Nebuchadnezzar, the king with impulse control problems whose heart changed

Nebuchadnezzar humbled

Nebuchadnezzar humbled

I totally admire the Old Testament. Not only reveals God’s righteousness and love, but points to Jesus Christ so many times that I lost counting. And what is even more fascinating that it doesn’t matter how many times I read a certain well-known story, the Holy Spirit reveals something new on every occasion. This is what happened now when I started the Book of Daniel and had another chance to view a character in a different light.

 

What caught me especially now is the personality  and remarkable change of king Nebuchadnezzar. He has a long life and great power, yet in the first chapters of the book he behaves like a spoilt toddler who can only get over his discomfort by torturing others with his tantrums.

In chapter 2 he expects the magicians and wise men to interpret his dream without knowing the dream. Here is his reaction when they can’t do what he asks for:

“This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.  So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death…” Daniel 2.12-13

And in Chapter 3 this is how he reacts when the three Jewish men do not obey and worship the idol:

“Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” Daniel 3.13
“Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Daniel 3.15

He is impulsive and furious if things don’t go the way he wanted. And quite frankly, no one would stop him on earth as he is the king of a world leading empire with great authority. But there is one thing that shows that he had some kind of openness to God. Every time God shows his power, when Daniel is able to interpret a dream or when He frees the three men from the fire, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges God’s power and authority. (We can’t see this attitude with his successor Belshazzar).

Unfortunately for Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledging God’s power and greatness does not save anyone. And he has to learn it the hard way. If you read Daniel day by day, you might notice that Chapter 4 kind of sticking out from the book. Instead of someone telling us the story as a third person, the chapter changes the settings and Nebuchadnezzar writes a letter with his own point of view. A fascinating story about God’s righteousness and saving grace at the same time.

The chapter starts with worship. The formerly impulsive, tantrum driven ruler worships God:

“How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
    his dominion endures from generation to generation.” Daniel 4.3

A complete change of heart. Initiated by the certain fulfilment of God’s promise. This is what happened to Nebuchadnezzar as a consequence of his pride:

“He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Daniel 4.33

Possibly it is the greatest humiliation of a powerful ruler in history. Losing his mind, living like and animal. But he is not cut out completely because God is gracious and because Nebuchadnezzar learns:

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified him who lives forever.” Daniel 4.34

Here is a change of heart and a wonderful example of God’s love. He did not give up on Nebuchadnezzar. There is no hopeless case in His eyes, not even a spoilt king with great earthly power.

And I praise the Lord that He didn’t give up on me either.

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Alcohol free and socially awkward

Eight months passed since I went alcohol free. And although I did not consume much alcohol anyway before (with the exception of my young and wild phase, might write about it later) I wanted to share with you some challenges in my commitment to be booze free on the long term.

First of all I did not choose to be alcohol free because I have a personal problem with the drink, no. I declared war against the alcohol industry due to their aggressive marketing and low prices which lead to severe drinking-related harm in this country.
Just to mention a few:

  1. Drink driving issues – England, Wales and Northern Ireland has the highest legal blood alcohol level in the entire continent and the alcohol lobby prevented lowering it at least twice. To give you a perspective: reaction time is slowing down at 0.03% blood alcohol level, at 0.06% the risk of crash exponentially grows. Yet, in England you can still drive on 0.08%. Please don’t drink and drive. At all. Just don’t.
  2. 70% of A&E visits on weekends seem to be alcohol related – massive cost to the NHS and some permanently damaged lives. The government failed to stop the happy hours or rise the price of alcohol in pubs which would have a protective effect. (Both were included in the 2012 Alcohol strategy)
  3. Alcohol is so cheap in supermarkets than you are able to drink more than eat… The Scotch Whiskey is actually suing the Scottish Government for wanting to introduce higher alcohol prices.
  4. Liver cirrhosis is on a remarkable rise and the drink industry manipulatively supports campaigns that look like “fighting against the harms” but in reality only include non effective methods that will not reduce drinking. For example labelling.

My no alcohol commitment goes further than simply refusing to drink. Not supporting the industry in any ways mean that I don’t even buy alcohol. And this is where the social difficulties start.

Because I will never buy anyone a drink in a pub or bring a bottle of wine if invited for dinner.  I’m happy to buy anyone an orange juice and turn up for a dinner with a cake or soft drinks. Unfortunately in this culture it seems to be awkward. How do you explain to a friend without sounding judgemental that you are very happy to buy her/him a drink as long as it is a soft drink? I find it slightly disturbing that the worlds’ most dangerous psychoactive substance is so intertwined with the culture that one should feel awkward not wanting to support its rise.

I have to add I don’t judge anyone who drinks and happy to sit down in a pub sipping on my juice while the others drink alcohol in my company. But this commitment is socially not too light or easy I have to say.

If you are a long term abstainer like me and want to share your experience, please leave a comment.

Blessings to you all.

 

 

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An ENTJ Christian woman

Yeah, an ENTJ, you heard that. Which means that I’m supposed to be a highly annoying, big mouthed, bossy, heartless, competitive world leader. Hitler was an ENTJ. As well as Napoleon, Churchill, and Donald Trump. On the feminine side: Margaret Teacher, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton (Yep 2 ENTJs competing for rulership over the US, God have mercy on them 😊)

If you have no clue what I’m talking about don’t worry. It is yet another popular personality test that tries to cluster people into categories. And in this post I am trying to explore the positives and negatives of this test.

First of all, some background.
The Myers Briggs Trait Inventory (MBTI) explores binary working modes in 4 different areas:
1. Orientation where you can be Introvert (I) or Extrovert (E)
2. Information processing: iNtuitive (N) or Sensor (S)
3. Decision making process: Thinker (T) or Feeler (F)
4. Organisation style: Perceiver (P) or Judger (J)

Then your personality type comes together from the strongest attribute of each pair, so you get 4 letters. You can take the test here.

My type is Extrovert, iNtuitive, Thinker, Judger, which is ENTJ. I am an Extrovert because I feel more comfortable with others than alone, iNtuitive as I am living in the future and my had is always filled with ideas instead of being present oriented and realistic. A Thinker because I make decisions based on logic rather than feelings and a Judger which indicates that I live my life constantly creating plans and generally happy about being ready before deadlines rather than leaving all to the last minute.

The MBTI is highly popular nowadays everywhere, including Christian communities.

On the positive side it is quite flexible. Instead of putting you into strict and impermeable categories straight away, it shows your working mode in 4 different areas. And I think it helps to understand yourself more. The MBTI helped me to get to know myself better. To know why I am frustrated if I have to stay on my own for days and how delightful it is to worship together with hundreds. To realise that being a daydreamer and constantly thinking ahead while zoning out from the present is just how my mind works (intuitive mind) and not an attention problem. To accept that I am a Thinker and it is not an odd thing even when I am a woman. And to realise that planning  ahead is ok and it is quite normal that I am not too delighted about spontaneity.

The test also helped me to see the areas I have to improve. Knowing that I am a strong extrovert helps me to understand introverts more and their need for being alone time to time. I am more in control of my wandering mind and direct myself back to the present easier. I learn to feel with my thinker brain (this is the toughest of all, might give it another post later… Now back to the present) and I am trying hard to relax a bit and not to panic if my next three months are not planned out with sheer perfection.

And now the negatives of the MBTI (or at least what I think the downsides are). Although it gives more flexibility finding a place for you on a scale between binary attributes, it does cluster you into one of the 16 personality types. And this is where the problem lies. Once there are clusters people tend to think that all who belong to the same type are basically the same. There are long descriptions of the 16 types with suggestions for different jobs, description of romantic relationships, parenting styles, strength and weaknesses and so on. There are many jokes about how different types react in different situations (which is quite funny if you don’t take it seriously). And even though I find the descriptions more or less accurate, I think the clustering holds the danger of judging others by their types. Am I really sharing the exact same personality with Hitler, Napoleon or Churchill? They weren’t the same and neither am I. So many other things influence how we think and behave.

I accept my MBTI personality type easily and agree with the working modes the test shows. But I reject being and ENTJ as a letter combination and only that. I am a unique creation that God carefully and wonderfully made. He formed my bones, my body and many of my personality traits in my mother’s womb (Psalms 139). He knew how I will turn out. And very importantly, he knows my future too.

Dear brothers and sisters, take the test. It helps to know yourself better and it is fun. But don’t take it too seriously.

 

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Letter to a friend

Dear friend,

It’s been almost 2 years since I last saw you and your face starts fading from my memory. Funny that I still remember the way you laughed. I barely think of you anymore, but when I do, my heart sinks and I want to break that invisible cord that was created by us. Yeah, I think of you today, my friend, and it is disturbing. Because I shouldn’t.
I shouldn’t.

It is disturbing because while I am able to accept many things that I can’t control in this world, it is very difficult to accept not being able to control something that comes from inside me. And no one else knows that better than you.

We are cut out of the same material, my friend. We know how to use and exhaust our body and mind without limits. To pursue what we want with all seriousness, ignoring pain and sacrifice. We know how to rely on our own strength and brainpower. Because we can push ourselves to the extreme. What we don’t know is how to do feelings, the language we don’t speak is emotions. Relying on someone else is completely missing from our dictionary…

You know me, my friend. In fact, you know me from the very beginning. Whenever I’m trying to analyse what happened between us I find hard to believe how quickly you pierced through all my defences and shot straight to the heart. It takes years for others to get to the level that you reached with me in months. Or, in fact, weeks. You exploded into my life. And that caught me off guard.

Suddenly there was something in me that I couldn’t control. And that was seriously scary and frustrating.

The most difficult thing about being an I/ENTJ is not that we don’t feel anything. It is that we don’t know when we do.

You know why we struggled? We both tried describing feelings with logic. It is impossible. But we tried regardless. Because we are in control of ourselves… And it resulted in hurt and pain. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry I told you horrible things. And it hurts that you left the way you did. I felt so little. I felt so abandoned.

It’s been almost 2 years since I last saw you and your face starts fading from my memory. But I am grateful to God that he allowed us meet. You made me to face myself. You helped me to grow. And for that I’m grateful.

Today I think of you as a friend. I won’t forget you. And I know you will not forget me. And it is ok, my friend. It is ok.

I can’t do anything else but wish you blessings from our Saviour.

 

 

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Shadows – A binge eater’s diary

As years go by I am more and more convinced that my, almost non-diagnosable, eating disorder will always hang over my head. Started at age 12 with binges and worries about my – by the way normal – weight and more or less followed through my life since. At that time, of course I did not know what binges meant but I do remember I was scared that I will put on weight.
I can’t count how many diets I tried, they went right through my teenage years, then my twenties, creeping along my thirties too. Very restrictive fortnight long diets, 90 days diets and so on. Many of them failed right at the beginning, the others later, after I lost weight. And one in particular brought me to a very low point.

About a year ago, in January 2015, I decided to go on a diet once again. Nothing new, just calorie counting and exercising. Signed up for a gym membership and chose healthier food. One could say the calorie counting app helped or the meanwhile discovered food allergies (which made me to leave out wheat and dairy from my diet anyway) or maybe the half marathon I also signed up for, but I am convinced now that my Saviour helped me endure and keep going. Day by day I knew he was with me, with my body, he made me stronger, healthier. I saw it in my improving running times and decreasing waistline. I lost 2 stones in the course of 6 month (I’m happy it didn’t go quicker) and happily keep my weight at my new, normal BMI at the moment. In previous diets I kept going after 3 months and still on track more or less a year later.

Is it a successful diet then? Depends on what I consider to be a success. Am I skinny? No. Am I happy? Yes!!

But there are shadows still and that is why I write this post.

A couple of months ago I had to hide my mirror. Little thing but it made me remember of the result of my worst after diet state.  Once again, I kept watching my body in the mirror and if you ever been there you know how obsessive it could be for a binge eater. After a little while, my body start to look different and I no longer know what is my real reflection. The whole thing turns to be chubs and lumps and waistline. My God created body is distorted by my own mind! (I’m not talking about any hallucinations) When I noticed the first signs, the mirror had to go.

Then, I had a binge a few weeks ago. It was out of nowhere, just following an impulse. I HAVE TO EAT! Was on my way home from a church service, wanting to buy some food. Started to plan what to buy on the way home and my mind went in wild directions of junk food. I could not stop it. I could not. (probably could have then, on the bus but ignored the signs) I HAVE TO EAT! I shouldn’t have gone to the supermarket after all but convinced myself that I need to cook for tomorrow (I didn’t) so I went in I HAVE TO EAT! and ended up buying brownies and vegetable crisps and some mini pack of haribo. I HAVE TO EAT!  Stood by the shelves looking at these and I knew I will eat them as soon as I got home (the haribo didn’t even reach home). I HAVE TO EAT! So I got home and prepared myself a large bowl of muesli with maple syrup on top an rushed to my room I HAVE TO EAT! So I watched a movie and eaten the muesli, the whole packet (large one) of vegetable crisps and all the 4 brownies in the box. I think it was about 3000 calories at one sitting.

Then I knew it is not over. Maybe it will never be over. But I will try my best to put a leash on it and with God’s help I believe it is possible. This episode was followed by some smaller binges but so far it seems to be settled for now. (Although a bit scared to weigh myself now) I’m chewing on carrots in the evenings and started over training after 7 weeks of shoulder pain, I plan to run an other half marathon in October. So things look ok. I learn to accept that I am in this position and I have to be cautious. I learn to accept and will love myself even if I fail. Because God created me, He loves me and He never fails.

Overeater friends, there is hope, hang in there.

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