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DROP YOUR FISTS

AND

RAISE YOUR HANDS


DR DEBRA R WILSON



Copyright 2017 Dr. Debra R Wilson


Smashwords Edition



Copyright © 2017 by Debra R. Wilson All rights reserved.


Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands by Dr Debra R Wilson


Front Cover conceptual design by Arturo Roque. All rights reserved.


Front Cover and Full wrap designed by Victoria Faye, WhitandWare.com. All rights reserved.


Author photograph taken by Mack Vision, Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.


Edited by Quanie Miller


Formatted by Kat Spencer


Illustrations by Kenny Martin Jr., Custom Art/Illustration, http://www.artbykenny.com


Published by perfecting-purpose.com


All rights reserved solely by the author. The author guarantees all content is original and does not infringe upon the legal rights of any other person or work. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author. While all of the incidents in this book happened, the names of people, business and institutions were changed when it felt right. In a few cases a fact slightly nudged, but no more than necessary and only to avoid identifying somebody I love.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)—public domain.


DEDICATED





In honor and memory of my mother,

Audrey Delores Epps-Wilson.

Her strength, endurance and love anchored me as she watched me persevere to apply the principles,

Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands.

And

Kalah Renee and Autumn Corine, my daughters who continue to be the wind beneath my wings.

Table of Contents



PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

EXERCISE #1

COMMERCIAL BREAK

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

THE SPIRITUAL FRAMEWORK OF COPING

CHAPTER 1—THE BATTLE CONTINUES

COMMERCIAL BREAK

REFLECTIONS

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS

CHAPTER 2—THE HIT LIST

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS

EXERCISE #2

REFLECTIONS

CHAPTER 3—DROP EM

COMMERCIAL BREAK

EXERCISE #3

REFLECTIONS

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS—(PART 1)

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS—(PART 2)

CHAPTER 4—RAISE YOUR HANDS

COMMERCIAL BREAK

REFLECTIONS

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS

CHAPTER 5—RESPONSIBLE EMPOWERMENT

EXERCISE #4

COMMERCIAL BREAK

EXERCISE #5

REFLECTIONS

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS

MEANINGFUL MOMENTS—(PART 3)

TEAR UP RISK AGREEMENTS

BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION GUIDE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR

REFRENCES FOR REFORMATION


PREFACE

The Holy Spirit inspired me to write this book right in the middle of battle. I was a high-risk pregnancy with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, my spouse was unemployed, I was asked to work beyond my pregnancy leave, and I was evicted while shouldering the financial weight for my family. I tried to hide my situation from my family, friends and those who continued to hate and criticize me amid my turmoil. It was in this season of dimension-climbing experiences that this book was born. Dimension-climbing experiences are the moments of anguish in our life that bring definition to our character and to our purpose. This is the best way to describe the dichotomy between understanding who we believe we are and discovering who God has called us to be; or, who we are trying to become while realizing it may not be quite what God intended.

I began to journal as a strategy to keep calm, keep emotionally connected and remain conscious to avoid resentment. At the same time, I fought hard to resist negative feelings, surroundings (people) or conversations that threatened my peace, my faith and my capacity to love.


We know that we have passed from death (dimension) to life (dimension), because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

I John 3:14 (NIV)


To love someone sincerely is to cross dimensions. To love someone who is difficult to love must be like crossing several dimensions.

I had to recognize that my experiences were “dimension-climbing” because every opposing force seemed to be working against me: shattered family relationships, abusive connections, false sense of relationships in the church, feeling taken advantage of, and the overwhelming financial struggles. In agreement, these maladies came against me to the degree that they launched me from one place to another emotionally, mentally, spiritually and at times physically. I felt torn, depressed, confused, felt that I was not enough; I forgot simple things and at times felt physically nauseous. I was literally going through the motions of living; dressed up on the outside with a smile, but inside I felt hollow and afraid. I lost trust in people, and at some point, I think I lost faith in myself. Somehow, however, I kept pouring into others; preaching, teaching, and encouraging.

God carried me through what would have destroyed me had I stayed there continuing to internally fight back or attempting to meander through it. If God had not rescued me from battles that I did not understand how to win, the experiences would have diminished my capacity to forgive and persevere. Basically, it would have taken me under.

Prior to beginning this writing project, I still believed that the ability to love was inherent and a part of human nature as opposed to something that needed to be cultivated, nurtured, and protected. While the love element seems to come naturally in the animal kingdom, humans struggle with loyalty, attention, sympathy, empathy, affection, and kindness. When love challenges us by the amount of work it involves or is destroyed by broken trust, shattered by abuse, or bruised by rejection, the resulting devastation can lead to life-altering consequences such as a broken home, addiction, promiscuity, regret, and thoughts of suicide for some.

For a season during this process, I came to the end of myself and cried out to God in emotional exhaustion. I heard God quietly, yet fervently say, “Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands.” From that time and long after that breaking point, God would quietly remind me of this scripture.


...Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s…

2 Chronicles 20:15b (KJV)


Yes, I understood the verse, but I was taken aback when the great multitude of battle was in my core relationships: home, family, friends, and church family; especially those I thought were kind, saved, and sincere. Boy was I in shock! For some time, I felt disconnected. I was still coming into bloom within my own ministry and leadership development. It was like I had gone behind the curtain of “church,” to what really happens behind the scenes and it hurt. It was hard to witness spiritual leaders bully young Christians with growing faith. It was difficult watching the manipulation and deliberate cruelty used to leverage emotional and mental control. This was not just one sect or one church, but this spirit was abroad Christendom. There was such callousness and falling away from the rudiment of true ministry-love. I think it is important for us to discuss this notion of bullying and manipulating further. When most people hear these terms, they tend to believe it does not describe their behavior. And, some people are so prone to being victims of this treatment that they do not realize their situation is dangerous and causing them to live with raised fists. When people come to others for sympathy, comfort, and healing, it is unfortunate when their vulnerabilities are taken advantage of. Instead of being given sincere love and understanding, they are accounted as a dumb sheep for an emotional slaughter. There are horror stories of people being talked about to the extent that they feel distant, disconnected, depressed, and suicidal because they trusted someone who was vile and deceptive. I have seen people ex-communicated and ignored by leadership only because they made a typo on a program, or did not hit the right note during a song, or could not leave their family to attend a particular event. People who are young in their faith were made to feel guilt and shame for missing services, not giving money they did not have to give or refusing to do other inappropriate favors, sexual and otherwise. I have watched people who have positions that support the worship experience (musician, ministry staff, etc.) used for their gifts and talents, while their heart and soul remained damaged, undelivered and pushed by the wayside. Their contributions were more important than their life.

On some level, I felt trapped with no relief, no reprieve, and certainly no retreat because I was committed. I was vested and invested in people and my own leadership growth. I felt the strong sense of responsibility to protect innocent people from being hurt by vile dynamics. God did not let me just bail out of the situation, and I did not desire to. I refused to leave people stranded and alone. God wanted to groom me, to prepare me and to allow me to recognize the truth of my situation. I was in battle. And it seemed the more I defended others, the worse the battle became for me.

It is no secret that church is not always the safest place simply because we are there. Yes, us, ordinary people with unique personalities, proclivities, and pessimistic attitudes. People bring their non-convicted hearts and unkind dispositions with them when they come to church; and, until people choose to let the church in them instead of just showing up causing discord and mayhem, they will never learn how to drop their fists and instead, raise their hands. Sometimes I wonder if people actually fear God because it is not evident by the way they treat others.

Now, I am mature enough to understand personality conflict, corporate bureaucracy, and even politics, but when these things are flagrant in the church, they breed confusion and can be eternally dangerous. The church is an organism as well as an organization so we should expect some level of corporate culture to coincide within church business, but the disregard for integrity, the calculated deception, and the wicked intent is almost surreal. It is baffling that people bring this to the church without any level of conviction or conscience. Evil just waltzes right in and takes a seat as far in the forefront as possible and then parades while we worship around it. This divisive spirit and arrogant attitude can kill a person’s faith while we shout and dance over it like it’s right. This type of open fool-season shenanigans is not good and causes significant damage, not to mention permanently raised fists. I have seen a multitude of families leave “the church” and sometimes their faith because of this brutality in the name of Jesus. Really??? This situation was one of the many that helped bring this book to life. Little did I know, there were many more battles to come.

Another issue that prompted this book was the state of today’s society. We have national figures venting and airing ignorant ideologies on social mediums and people in leadership roles that cannot seem to stay on task to deal with issues without deception or prejudice. Let’s keep in mind that in both worlds, church and secular, we are describing behavioral patterns of adults claiming to be God-fearing; some of these people have degrees, some have prestigious pedigrees, and some even have most important societal influence. All of this unrighteousness is happening in and out of the church while our children hang in the balance.

So, here it is; we are facing battles from all angles. And of course, let’s not forget the battle with the person that we face in the mirror. Mercy! I am finding that we need more grace to deal with ourselves than any other external influence or opposing force.

Right in the heat of a battle or while going through an overwhelming challenge, someone who knew about this writing project would ask me when I was going to finish it. Ugh! I would always candidly respond, “When I have mastered doing it myself.” Well, of course, that never happened, and I have come to realize that it probably never will. Dropping your fists and raising your hands is a principle; therefore, it is a mode of conduct and a lifelong process. During this journey, I have changed, adjusted and then changed again so that my response to challenges, battles, or struggles is becoming filtered through a new lens. I am developing a new internal proclivity to “drop my fists and raise my hands.

This concept may sound like a cliché of, “Get over it,” but it is much more than a simple, “Accept things for what they are and move on.” This journey will challenge the heart, the mindset, our tucked away hurts, and the multi-layered reasons behind our raised fists by causing us to face our truth. The book will cause us to look into our mirrors without masks and away from the crowd. We will be able to search the deepest part of our hearts and see the what, who, how, when, and where our truth is to determine that it is now time to drop our fists and raise our hands.

This method is intended to provide a new strategy for overcoming obstacles, a new approach to handling the potholes in life before they become ditches or quicksand swamps. Those who take the journey will learn how to apply the manifold concepts that are discussed in this book. We will find out how to process situations before speaking prematurely, and we will also discover how to avoid drowning in a shallow pool that feels like an ocean.

Perception is an integral part of the principle, but praying is the most crucial part of the strategy. I discovered new attributes of God while writing this book. I have developed a relationship with God with full assurance that He is in me and that He is for me. As you take this journey, I am confident that you will make many new personal discoveries too.

I started the Drop Your Fist and Raise Your Hands project many years ago. At first, I believed that I was just writing to fulfill a lifelong passion to write a book. I can relate to those who write for release of stress, expression, or just to keep a record of life’s events. The hurdles and roadblocks in my life have been surmountable, and each experience a definitive epilog. Through each circumstance, God enabled me to survive, overcome and triumph. As I started writing down my thoughts and feelings, I also began writing this book. It seemed that despite several failed attempts at completing this book over the past 16 years, I knew God was inspiring me and pushing me past my fears to finish it and to publish it to help others.

Drop Your Fist and Raise Your Hands is a response to the current cry of God’s people, and as such, its healing message of surrender and deliverance will go out to the masses and not return to Him unaccomplished.

INTRODUCTION

Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands is a concept that can become a way of life. As we discuss and discover examples of people who have successfully applied this methodology to everyday challenges, we will begin to understand the relevance and timeliness of this fundamental principle.

The Bible story about Joseph is an excellent place to begin this journey because it illustrates the theoretical framework for Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands. The theoretical framework is the structure that can back up or support a theory. Joseph, perhaps a familiar story to some, was a man in the Bible, who was the younger, said to be, overconfident son of Jacob. Joseph had the gifts of dreams and interpreting the dreams of others. He was seen as his father’s favorite and for this cause his ten older brothers sold him to slave traders and told their father he was dead. Joseph would hurdle over constant life battles such as imprisonment, false accusation, deception, betrayal, but would then overcome these hurdles and live a life of favor, triumph, prosperity and restoration.

We will discover what makes the principle of Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands relevant and refer to the Spiritual Framework of Coping as our support.

Like Joseph and his older brothers, we will see how God is able to turn the enemy’s agenda for our destruction into an overwhelming blessing. We will also come to realize that this will not happen without a process. God’s blessing is so much more than just material gain because God’s divine and supernatural blessings are life-changing. It was not just Joseph who learned lessons in humility, courage, and responsible empowerment; his father, his brothers, and an entire nation felt the impact of these experiences.

We tend to focus on Joseph in the story because he seems to be the main character and most people like to associate their life with a story’s hero. In this story; however, Joseph’s brothers are practical examples of individuals in modern society. Even though the story goes back thousands of years, many people we live among and interact with display the same unrighteous behavior that was illustrated by Joseph’s brothers.

Jealousy and cruelty are not just emotions exemplified or amplified by unchurched people or terrorists. These feelings and the actions that are propelled by them are not associated with the evilest people in our society; ordinary folks can fall prey to these emotions as well.

For Joseph to actualize his purpose, he had to stop being the victim. He had to learn the concept of dropping your fists and raising your hands in the midst of rejection, disconnection, abuse, imprisonment and abandonment. His brothers hated him because:

a) he was favored by his father

b) he was gifted by God

c) he testified of his anticipation

d) his favor threatened their self-worth


Have you ever been hated by someone based upon their perception of you alone? They hate you because they feel that something about you may threaten their self-worth. Just like Joseph, we may find some unpleasant bridges to cross as we heal beyond our hurting places and progress into our life’s purpose.

Let’s take a moment to think about this in an exercise.

EXERCISE # 1

PERCEPTION POISON

This exercise explores “perception poison.” Perception Poison is the notion that another person’s negative perception of us can poison our self-perception and have an adverse impact on our thought process and our behavior. Negative perceptions can be criticisms that seem intended to cause hurt, bring shame, embarrass, diminish and intimidate another person.

People often allow the perceptions, opinions, and expectations of others to influence their self-efficacy.

In the story of Joseph, he did not seem to allow his brother’s perception to change his mind, lessen his confidence or threaten his convictions.

This exercise makes it possible to ponder how we respond to negative perceptions. The questions below encourage us to think about instances in life when we felt that someone attempted to lessen our confidence by their negative perceptions or opinions.

You can write your answers here or in the 21 Day Reflection Journal. It is important to ponder if your experiences have caused raised fists. It is necessary to work through the questions below in order to begin the process of dropping your fists and raising your hands.


1) Have you ever experienced someone’s attempt to poison your self-perception?

a) Who was the person?

b) What was their role or relationship to you?

c) Do you remember how the experience felt?


2) From your perspective was this experience fueled by jealousy, resentment or some other motivation?

a) Is this experience ongoing or just a tabloid drive by? A tabloid drive by is when an individual makes an assumption without any information about you.


3) What was your response?

a) How did you overcome?


4) Have you ever been accused of trying to poison someone’s self-esteem?


5) Was the accusation true?

a) If so, what caused you to behave this way? Jealousy? Insecurity? Anger?

b) If not, why do you believe they felt this way?

c) If there was an opportunity to discuss the issue, what was the outcome?


This exercise shows us that we can experience poison perception as a victim or as an accused offender.

What do we do now that we answered the questions?

We should take this opportunity to search within to see if we harbor any negative feelings from being a victim of poison perceptions.

Do we need to forgive someone in our hearts for their attempt to hurt us?

Do we need to stand strong and refuse to allow another person’s perception to influence our self-esteem, self-efficacy, and choices?

Do we need to be mindful of how our interactions with others could be perceived as poison to their self-esteem?


This is a good place to journal your feelings in the Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands 21 Days of Reflection Journal.

This exercise challenged us to ponder and search our hearts for any unresolved feelings that may cause us to have raise fists. As we journal our responses and feelings, we can decide to make the choice to surrender our negative feelings. Surrendering our feelings means letting them go.


Remember, Acknowledge, Drop, and Raise (R.A.D.A.R.)!


Perhaps answering some of those questions dredged up some painful memories. These type of experiences feel like emotional drive-by’s, where someone just runs you over emotionally and leaves you wounded, ready to hit you again or willing to let you just bleed out and die. Sometimes, these emotional hits happen by people who do not even know you, understand you and have not taken the time to really know your story, your struggles, your failures, your fears, etc. And contrary to popular sexist belief, women are not the only ones who exhibit this type of catty behavior; men have issues of hateration, too.

We learn a valuable lesson from the story of Joseph and his brothers.

We have to be careful who we share our dreams and aspirations with. I believe we have to share it by faith to set it in motion, for it to come to life, but we have to know the audience we share with.

Everybody will not share in the celebration of your successes. People closest to you may not be able to handle God’s blessings upon your life.


Joseph was the object of a hate so vehement that his very being, as perceived by his brothers, was a threat to their being. The Bible reminds us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave; meaning that sometimes, jealous people kill the person they are envious of because of some crazy notion that taking them out will somehow remove the threat and salvage their shortcomings. If these people make it to prison to mull over how irrational their motivation was, they might eventually realize that someone else’s success should actually inspire positive change and not corruption. The worst reality of this madness is that there are people in our circle of life that would rather see us dead than to witness our success.

Joseph’s dream revealed that he would eventually become both leader and lender to his older brothers, but the dream was not the only source of contention. The father favored Joseph and openly set him apart from his brothers, covering him with an elaborate coat of many colors.

Let’s discuss favor for a moment. Has God ever publicly blessed you and provided you with His favor to the degree that you felt put on blast? Oh, you accepted the blessing, praised God for the favor, and humbly recognized the grace and mercy, but you may not have realized the precarious position you would be in among those around you. Ironically, our blessings often come with harsh lessons regarding loyalty and friendships. Sometimes, the person who appears to be the biggest supporter of your success might secretly be your worst enemy. They appreciate what your blessing does for them, but hate you for being the one chosen to carry the blessing.

They love you, and then they grow to hate the very thing that caused them to love you in the first place. Wow! Sounds crazy? It is! And you can almost sit back with a bucket of popcorn and a soft drink watching them go through their personal drama because of your blessing and their perception of how it impacts them. Of course, amid all of this, they are missing the way to their own blessings.

Let’s spend some time in the mind of the Hater. The term Hater describes a person who cannot be happy for another’s success, achievement, lifestyle, or freedom; and as a result, they make an effort to point out perceived flaws, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities of that person. The Hater is not necessarily fueled by jealousy or wanting to replace the person they criticize, they just want the person to be less of a success, or perhaps, to feel less free, or just to be taken down. Why?

I am sure there are a myriad of explanations people give for being over critical of a person they should be happy for and celebrate with. Perhaps the hater feels inferior, limited, intimidated, or just fails to realize that God’s blessings are open to them if they would have faith and believe. People can actually be a hater to those they claim to love, but due to an unresolved issue deep within, they cannot be happy for that person. This dynamic happens among family, friends, co-workers, students, church members, etc. Sometimes people do not even realize that they are being haters because their tendency to find fault with someone has become their typical response. Hateration spawns from an unfulfilled heart; from feeling that one did not receive an opportunity, a fair chance, appropriate resources or provision. As a result, fists are raised, and people become critical of others, negative, condescending, sarcastic, and just plain ol’ mean. Everyone is susceptible to being a hater. We have to search our heart to find the root of these feelings and then make a choice to confront it.

This brings us to another story that illustrates the concept of Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands: The Biblical story of Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was a farmer who grew vegetables and grains while Abel was a shepherd who took care of the family’s cattle. The boys were instructed to prepare an offering to God to show their appreciation for His bountiful blessings of living in the beautiful Garden of Eden. Abel, the shepherd, took the time to find the most precious lamb of great value and worth to offer God. He gave up a lamb without blemishes, the most expensive one in the herd. Cain, the gardener, gave straw, which was not of any value or sacrifice to what he possessed. Cain simply could not understand why God needed an offering and figured that his raggedy straw was good enough to throw back at God.

God responded to both sacrifices; He completely received Abel’s offering but somewhat rejected Cain’s offering. God preferred Abel’s offering over Cain’s based on the intention behind their giving. For this reason, Cain developed hate in his heart toward Abel. We ask ourselves, how could Cain be angry with Abel? This is the plight of the hater: failure to recognize cause and effect, refusal to accept responsibility and being too prideful to change. God went so far as to have a personal conversation with Cain to reason with him and to let him know how he could be equally blessed if he would humble his heart and change his mind.

What an opportunity it is for God to extend His mercy and His grace to help us out of our own mess—face to face even. Unfortunately, instead of Cain listening to God and accepting the fact that he had to change his mind and his heart to obtain a blessing, he chose to hate and then kill his brother. Cain killed his brother Abel with foolish pride, callous jealousy, and hatred in his heart. The spirit of Cain rests upon us today. This type of relentless anger is the cause of many calamities in our society; murder, slander, drug pushing, adultery, abuse, etc.

What do we take away from Abel’s legacy? Perhaps we learn how much our heart and mindset affects our willingness to drop our fists and raise our hands. The concept of drop your fists and raise your hands fosters peace; peace within ourselves and peace with God. It is a concept that affects every area of our life. Abel teaches us how to please God by giving with a sincere heart. Abel pleased God. That is his legacy. What we purpose in our heart is important to God. How many people actually please God today? Is that even their focus anymore?


Blessings and Bosting


Let’s look at Joseph’s life a little more. Have you ever been blessed to the degree that you became boastful? After Joseph was adorned with the coat of many colors by his father, he may have used every opportunity to rub the coat in his brother’s face. In my imagination, I see Joseph wearing the coat and prancing around where the brothers were hard at work since he was the youngest and free to play. He probably showed up to every meal in the coat. He may have even worn the coat to play and perhaps made a production while taking it off, folding it just so and making sure he was seen in full effect. And when he revealed the dream God gave him concerning his purpose, which included reigning over his brothers, he may have told it at the dinner table, even causing his father to raise an eyebrow.

In Joseph’s dream, he and his brothers were working in a field when suddenly his sheaf of the grain rose and stood upright while his brothers’ sheaves gathered around to his and bowed down to it. If that was not enough, Joseph had another dream that the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. Even Joseph’s father had issues with his dreams, asking him if he was insinuating that his whole family would one day come and bow down to the ground before him. The brothers became jealous and hated Joseph while the father quietly pondered his dreams.

When foolish or immature people are granted favor, it can sometimes lead to their detriment. Not that Joseph was evil or arrogant, but perhaps a bit foolish in the way he shared the information. Because he was just a child, he did not understand how the dream would be perceived or received by his family.

So the coat, Joseph’s behavior, the father’s favor, and then the revelation of his dream was just too much for his brothers to take. If Joseph’s dream materialized, it would mean that he, the spoiled brat with the colorful coat, would be their ruler. His behavior was not worthy of such hate and certainly did not warrant being sold or left for dead, but his brothers were operating under the same self-serving sense of entitlement as Cain.

I am learning that when people fear, it can sometimes breed contempt. People fear what they do not understand. People often fear what could be a blessing to them if they just took the time to wait, watch, ask questions, and resist the temptation to ridicule.


The people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.

Woe unto them! They have taken the way of Cain.

Jude 1:10-11a (NIV)


Joseph’s brothers were emotionally distraught after they sold him, and there was much conflict among them after they committed the crime. To make matters worse, they had to watch their father suffer after they lied to him about Joseph’s disappearance. Joseph’s father was left in anguish without a true explanation. Fear and misunderstanding can transform into anger that broods and boils over until an individual commits a heinous act that affects everyone around them. The people affected by such crimes are often left without explanation, just like Joseph’s father. The devastation can be so heavy that those affected may never heal.

Like Joseph and Abel, Kind David was another biblical character who experienced wrongdoing at the hands of family members. When David was brought into a dinner that his father excluded him from with the Prophet Samuel and his older brothers, God anointed him as the next King. What do we take away from this story? How might David have felt, knowing that he was not even invited to dinner with his family and their special guest? Imagine coming into the house, dinner is smelling good, and everybody is dressed in their Sunday-best, and there you are, uninvited, and unwelcome. Your family doesn’t want you there, but they allow you to stay because their guest insists. You are not dressed, dirty in fact, with no opportunity to acclimate to the setting before you. You do realize; however, that you were left out, rejected, and not considered worthy, but you are not even given time to process it because before you can even blink, God pours out a blessing upon you and anoints you right in the middle of what looks like a mess. I believe this is why David later wrote in Psalm 23:5:


You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”


When Prophet Samuel anointed David as King of Israel in front of his father and brothers, the Bible says that he went back to the field he was called from and continued to shepherd the sheep until the appointed time. Wow! How many people are willing to do this today? He dropped his fists and raised his hands. However, the rejection and the suppressed pain of being the “black sheep” of the family would later manifest into other habits, bad choices and detrimental consequences for David and the generations that followed. David committed adultery with his soldier’s wife, got her pregnant and then arranged for the soldier’s death. David was so busy running around sinning that he didn’t realize his children were out committing, in some cases, even more atrocious acts. One of them committed rape and incest, (which led to another son killing him.) Another son, Absalom, would revolt against him and lead a rebellion to take over his throne, which only led to his own demise. David would become stubborn and ignore advice resulting in a deadly plague affecting everyone he was responsible for. David suffered great loss. But, in spite of these obstacles, David’s life exemplified the principle of drop your fists and raise your hands, and he was considered “a man after God’s own heart” simply because David was a Worshipper. He knew how to humble himself, come to God broken after he failed, ask God to cleanse him, restore him, and then try again to please God. David would spend his lifetime applying this principle. He endured struggles, experienced heartache, battled in his home, waged wars against nations, lost moral challenges and suffered consequences. But David would always find his way back in God’s presence with R.A.D.A.R.; recognizing his issues, addressing his situation, dropping his fists and raising his hands.

Drop your fists and raise your hands is not intended for the perfect, but for the flawed, the failed, the diseased and the discontented, who, in spite of these human frailties, contend to apply the principle. By applying this principle, we have hope and we are able to persevere and to reap bountiful blessings despite our situations. We can overcome, heal, start over, seize new opportunities, and experience abundant living with joy and in peace.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Have we learned how to ponder? This is a process worth putting into practice. To ponder is to take the time to think things through. I am learning to reject my tendency to just jump at what I believe I hear God saying to me or what He is trying to show me without processing what I heard. I used to hear God begin to speak something into me, through a dream, or a revelation, or by experiencing an “Aha moment;” but before God could give me the intent or the meaning, I would run with it and begin making plans. Really? Sometimes we need to have a seat until we are asked to do otherwise. Every encounter is not an invitation.


But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:19


The excitement of new information or an encounter with truth can sometimes make it difficult to keep still, but it is necessary to avoid the leap. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, we need to learn how to keep all things and to ponder them in our heart. Regardless of how exciting the revelation or the “Aha moment,” is, it is necessary to relax, to hold on, to breathe, and to ponder.

I am learning how to ponder long enough for God to actually finish His sentence and how to make my way safe before I jump into action. This saves me time and embarrassment. I do not want to waste time missing divine opportunities simply because I did not take the time to ponder.


Back to the story of David...


David kept his anointing to himself, pondered the encounter in his heart, and went back to what he was doing until time and opportunity dictated something new. Was David resented by his older brothers? I am sure that he was. That particular scene prompted God to challenge the Prophet because even Prophet Samuel was confused. He did not know who to anoint, so he made assumptions, looking on the outward appearance of Jesse’s sons to determine who would be the next King. God chastised Samuel to let him know that he was judging the situation based upon a person’s outward countenance, while God makes choices based on a person’s heart. These events also put David’s father on notice and caused the jaws of his brothers to drop. The black sheep of the family, the rejected stone which the builders rejected, had now become the chief among them.

God has a blessing upon your life that will drop the jaws of those who feel more qualified or more worthy. Ponder these things.

Similar to David’s story, God also put Joseph’s father on notice. Although Joseph’s father was proud of him, he caused discord in the home by openly preferring Joseph over his other sons. Did Joseph’s father dote on his other boys the way he did Joseph? It does not sound like it.

Many of us can relate to either side of this story. Perhaps we were favored when we least expected it. Sometimes we are favored simply because those intended for the blessing forfeited. On the other hand, when people do not feel favored, they may perhaps feel rejected. Parents, if they are not careful, can cause great division in their home by favoring one child over the other children. Every child is unique with tailored needs. We cannot write the script of our children’s lives, but we can certainly set them up for success by providing a safe, loving home environment where they can freely express themselves. Leaders, if not careful and fair, can cause great discord within their organization by not providing appropriate and equal opportunities among their employees.

Every person has unique talents and abilities. A good parent, just like an effective leader, provides a fair balance by nurturing their children’s talents and helping them strengthen their deficiencies. If these balances do not occur, we may raise children who go through life with raised fists in every situation.

Fairness in leadership helps to prevent unnecessary conflict. We learn the term “fair” early in life, especially once we begin the process of socialization. We begin to define fair based upon life experiences. This frames our perception and impacts our relationships. Our perception of what is fair can also cause us to raise our fists in situations instead of allowing God to make things right on our behalf. Once established, our concept of what is fair is deep-seated and only altered by what we continue to experience in life and perhaps by situations that take us through broken places. Both Joseph and his brothers defined and then redefined fairness based upon the issues they faced in life. This can be the place of great transformation and where we may learn that there comes a point in our lives when we have to “drop our fists and raise our hands.”

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands is an interactive book designed to be a collaborative experience. Together, we will discover what causes raised fists, learn the purpose and the process of dropping them, and then learn how to raise our hands. Serious life-changing concepts are interspersed with humor as I write directly from my heart to yours.

I purposely made this book easy-to-read. The concepts are relatable, retainable, and readily applicable. There will be segments of Commercial Breaks where God “stopped the press” to drop in a Word of Knowledge.

There will be Reflections where I share my personal application of the lessons learned while on this journey.

Meaningful Moments are where I share snippets of real life events that will showcase this principle in action and hopefully make this journey real and tangible for you.

I encourage you to become an active participant by completing the exercises. The exercises are strategically placed throughout the book so that you can write about your experiences as they relate to the book’s principles. It is my hope that these exercises will allow you to express yourself while also challenging your thinking and enlightening your heart.

I encourage you to allow time for reflection and to perhaps journal your feelings and thoughts as you read the book. Again, for you to become an active participant in this journey, I strongly suggest reading this book sequentially; the personal inserts are shared respectively to keep the information in context and to ensure that you fully receive the intended message in each section. You will gain more insight and experience change if you walk through this process step-by-step with me. Skipping sections (or reading out of order) may cause you to miss messages that are designed to facilitate healing, closure, and in some cases, a fresh outlook and new beginning.

The two-part principle was divinely given to me during a season of anguish and despair, but I knew that to fully develop this theory, I needed to do a bit of research. I searched for a theoretical framework that would support the fundamental concepts of my theory: coping with unresolved issues by deep introspection and surrendering to God as our source of help, healing, and strength. I used my personal experiences, along with selected methodologies from The Spiritual Framework of Coping, to fully develop this process.

I believe this book will be helpful for those in all walks of faith, from the novice to the veteran, and I am overjoyed that you have decided to take this journey with me.

THE SPIRITUAL FRAMEWORK OF COPING

This book is balanced with spiritual and natural truths, events of my life’s experiences and examples from my life’s struggles and triumphs. The premise of this work is for us to understand the nature and the role of how each realm,—spiritual and natural, influences our ability to cope with the stress of holding on to past hurts, to adapt to a new way of processing emotional challenges, to become flexible in our response to obstacles and to heal beyond “here.” Helping you to achieve Holistic Health is the ultimate goal of Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands.

The Spiritual Framework of Coping came from a Scholarly Article as a result of many years of research to associate the influence of religion and/or spirituality on stress, coping, and health. Most of the research concerning this effort was conducted by K.I.Pargament, beginning in 1997, using a transactional model of stress and coping. Kenneth I. Pargament is licensed in Clinical Psychology and an emeritus professor of psychology. He has published over 200 articles on the subject of religion and spirituality in psychology and studies various relationships between religion, psychological well-being and stress, as well as other closely related subjects. In 1997, his research focused on the process of religious coping with emphasis on three key components: Spiritual appraisals, Person Factors, and Meaning-Making.


Spiritual Appraisals


Spiritual appraisals is a concept used to describe how people process coping with stress, illness, accidents and other negative life events. It is the notion that people use spiritual causal attributions as a common way to understand these occurrences. The concept indicates that attributions to God may help people preserve their belief in a just world, which in turn helps them hold on to a sense of personal control when confronted with uncontrollable situations. The process of appraisal represents an individual’s view of specific spiritual coping methods that could be used in response to a stressor. In other words, it is the process that people go through as they look to God for help in dealing with issues that they feel hopeless in trying to change for themselves.


Person Factors


Person factors involve how a person’s religious denomination and doctrinal beliefs direct how they will cope with life stressors. It is found that religious-oriented lifestyles tend to be healthier with reduced occurrences of disease. Further, it is believed that people who have internalized a deep belief system in their faith rely on their religious resources in times of crisis, especially if the event is perceived to be out of their personal control. This is referred to as intrinsic religion, where a person chooses to believe without an external motive. Simply, by faith. Researchers found that intrinsic religious orientation provided individuals with a sense of meaning when dealing with severe stress and resulted in a successful healing process as well as a predictive decline in depression. Researchers refer to intrinsic religion as being more mature because it is personally chosen as opposed to extrinsic religion which is motivated by external factors such as social acceptance and advancement. Pargament indicated that studies indicate religious coping styles affected the levels of anxiety experienced in a group of cardiac transplant candidates. It is believed that a collaborative relationship with God appears to provide individuals with a sense of empowerment in the face of difficult situations. Other studies implicate that a belief in God’s control is a factor in coping with health-related issues.

A 1998 study of coronary bypass surgery found that over 50% of patients who chose private prayer as the most frequent practice out of a list of 21 non-medical help-seeking or coping behaviors experienced less discomfort post-surgery. In 1999, a study of caregivers concluded that prayer might be the most profound religious coping behavior. In fact, this study proposed that an individual experiences a sense of “shared” control with God that includes their own sense of responsibility in coping with stress.

More recent studies in 2000 proposed that a surrendering style of spiritual problem-solving involves an active decision to release personal control to God over those aspects of life that fall outside of one’s control. This is believed to provide an emotionally overwhelmed individual some relief and a sense of assurance that God is in charge of the situation. Breast cancer survivors, for example, reported feeling a sense of relief by sharing their burden with God (Gall & Cornbalt, 2002). These types of results have led researchers to conclude that a just and benevolent God provides individuals with a framework of control that is perceived as more trustworthy than leaving things up to chance.

Based upon research, people who used spiritual coping reported the following benefits:

• A positive impact on the healing process

• Lower depression, greater happiness, and greater life satisfaction

• Better self-health

• Lower alcohol consumption in patients

• Fewer somatic complaints

• Increased social activity

• Fewer interpersonal problems

• Lower mortality


These are just a few examples of how Person Factors can positively impact coping and healing. Another component of religious coping, Meaning-Making, explains how spirituality can influence one’s perception of stressful life events.


Meaning Making


Pargament (1997) found that religion and/or spirituality play an important role in finding meaning in a stressful event. In fact, situational meaning involves an individual making an event less threatening by actually seeing opportunities for growth in the situation. Meaning-making involves a change in perspective because of one’s faith. Further, meaning-making results in the reframing of a stressful event as a spiritual opportunity that offers benefits and change to gain insights about life. Research reports that life-threatening events may serve as “wake-up” calls to take stock of life and rearrange priorities based upon one’s spirituality. On the other hand, it is reported that stressful events can also be interpreted as punishment for something bad. They can also be perceived as a test, a form of purification, or a challenge meant to be mastered. In the latter, individuals are apt to believe that God would not give them more than they could handle.

Another study reported that reframing and the influence of spirituality on meaning-making is the possibility of seeing oneself as having a limited ability to understand the entirety of events and becoming content with not finding a “reason” for suffering, pain, etc. (Pargament, 1992)

More recently, a 2002 study found that spirituality can help people center an event within the context of a “bigger picture,” or master plan. Once an individual uses spirituality to perceive a deeper purpose, troubling circumstances take on new meaning and can be seen as something that was meant to happen as opposed to something that occurred randomly.

Current work on meaning-making and spirituality is focused on a process researchers term “sanctification”: applying spiritual character and significance to secular aspects of life. Researchers report that with sanctification, an event can be experienced as a manifestation of God based upon one’s belief, image of or experiences with God.

The Spiritual Framework of Coping, along with Biblical truths and real-life events, provide theoretical, spiritual, and practical learning tools for confronting issues that cause emotional turmoil. The framework substantiates that life events and negative perception of those events, can cause raised fists; however, spirituality and personal choice can allow us to simply raise our hands.

By using the concepts and exercises provided in Drop Your Fists and Raise Your Hands, you will actively work towards developing a new personal arsenal of emotional, spiritual and practical strength. You will also work through past pain to get closure, facilitate change, and empower yourself to make positive life choices every day.


Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek –

Barack Obama

CHAPTER BREAK

CHAPTER 1

THE BATTLE CONTINUES

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)


The challenges, obstacles, frustrations, and hurts of today can make life seem like a constant war-zone. Why do we face such strife? This is a perfect place to open the discussion, but first, I have some important and timely information about the battle we all face—it is not new.

The battle could mean many different things: the battle in our mind, our heart, our soul. We face a battle at every turn. What we are challenged with, opposed by, and struggling to overcome is real. It may catch us off guard, threaten to cause anguish, disguise itself as a blessing to dismantle us, and will no doubt serve to distract, but it is not a new battle.

We are using the singular noun “battle” because the term indicates a large scale and a long duration of time that encompasses multiple elements, categories, dimensions, etc. It is one battle with many facets, implications, weapons, fights, and zones. It is indicative of what challenges us in this life.

We may be facing something life-changing or feel like we are in the middle of a war, but the advantage of knowing that the battle is not new provides an opportunity for a changed perspective and perhaps a different response.

The goal of drop your fists and raise your hands is not just sustainability in battle, but the goal is to provide a strategy for continual victory in and out of battle. If there was ever a time that we needed a fresh perspective and a well thought out strategy, that time is right now. With the current climate in our society, the time for dealing with the battle in a deliberate way is now. Drop your fists and raise your hands is a concept that offers a new approach to the way we respond to a battle.

Some of the most popular books and movies surround the theme of triumph in spite of adversity. For those of us who like action type books and films, we are intrigued by the suspense of the struggle, the fight, the variable scenes and the victory of the main character. In the most gripping movies that hint at a sequel, there has to be evidence alluding to an unfinished battle (or the emergence of a new one). It is the anticipation that captures our attention. When the sequel of a good movie arrives, we become eager to learn how the battle will pick up where it left off in the previous movie. We mentally and sometimes emotionally replay the scenes from the first movie in our head to prepare ourselves for the sequel. While drama or suspense may be entertaining to watch, it is not fun to experience in real life.

Our life is an action movie, but if it becomes smothered in drama and suspense, it can feel like we are suffocating. Know this; we are not alone in our experiences. We all will suffer loss at some point in our lives; loss of a person we cherish, perhaps the loss of a relationship, employment, an opportunity or our possessions. We all will experience hurt, brokenness, failure, a set-back, and disappointment. The battle we encounter is not uncommon, but rather a continuing sequel of life, a sequel that originates from recorded Biblical events as well as our practical life experiences.

I have a jewel of wisdom for you, but unlike a movie cliffhanger, I won’t leave you in suspense: we are in a continuous battle. After reading this book and implementing the strategies presented, my hope is that you will learn to intrinsically drop your fists and raise your hands in response to adversity.

There are two realms where we will encounter warfare: the spiritual realm and the natural. These encounters are not new to anyone, particularly to people who are of Christian faith. The war in these realms is inherent to life, especially once we are born-again believers because we begin to understand the dimensions of battle. This is not solely a Christian concept, however. In life, there will be opposition and conflict. This is true for all humankind. We are born in conflict. Our struggle in the labor process is just the beginning of a lifelong battle. What is the battle over? The spoil.

Spoil refers to goods, worth, and valuables. Goods that are so important, people will wage war to get them. In fact, spoil, or perceived spoil, has been the cause of many wars over centuries in many countries, communities, in politics, and even in families. Where there is no spoil, there is no need for battle. A battle occurs when there is something worth fighting for. We are the spoil to every battle in our life. Why? God and the enemy are fighting for our surrender as we are of such great value. We are valuable because we have a divine purpose and even more so because God loves us. We are worth the opposition between God and the enemy. We are worth the conflict. God deemed us worthy to die for so surely we are worth fighting for. Moreover, because of our great worth to God, we are of great spoil to the enemy. Therefore, our attempt to avoid opposition will not prohibit this uninvited and certainly unwelcomed guest from intruding in our lives. The battle we encounter is sometimes short-lived, and at times, it appears that it never ceases.


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