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Why I stopped doing yoga

Why I Stopped Doing Yoga

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

First off, I want to head off this whole series with a disclaimer: this is my testimony, sharing my own personal convictions and experiences. I’m not the Holy Spirit, nor am I trying to be. It’s not my aim to push my convictions onto anyone else. If you disagree with them, peace be with you. My only goal is to share where God is leading me and what He’s been doing in my life, in the hopes that it will give my fellow Believers something to think about and inspire them to draw closer to Him.

Now then.

Before I talk about what led me to stop doing yoga, let’s talk about what led me into it in the first place.

I had flirted with yoga off and on over the years. Way back when VCRs were still a thing and I was still struggling with my weight, I purchased a Yoga for Weight Loss VHS tape and actually did the workout regularly for months. It was a pretty benign workout that, other than a little bit of talk here and there about rooting into the earth and the standard Namaste salutation at the end, didn’t have anything overtly new agey enough to raise my hackles. When a church friend of my mom’s criticized me for doing yoga and warned me that I was participating in pagan worship and opening a spiritual doorway, I, like many Christian yoga enthusiasts, rolled my eyes (I mean, not to her face; I was polite about it) and insisted that there’s nothing inherently pagan or dangerous about stretching and that you can’t inadvertently or unwittingly worship demons–a position I continued to hold until a little over a year ago.

Nevertheless, I eventually got a DVD player and some Pilates DVDs, my VCR broke, and yoga fell off my workout radar.

Fast forward to the start of 2019. Not only had yoga become increasingly mainstream and popular, but it was also widely accepted in the Church–not just accepted, but actively promoted, with many churches offering “Holy Yoga” classes and Christian yoga instructors proliferating YouTube. Many of the Christian influencers I followed on Instagram were getting into yoga and loving it. What’s more, as someone with PCOS, I was constantly seeing yoga recommended as a great, healing exercise for PCOS sufferers.

I was at a highly vulnerable point in my life. I’d just survived one of my hardest years, which started with my mom having a stroke and ended with a major move to a new state where the only soul I knew was my husband. In between, my world had imploded as I realized how deeply the dysfunction ran in my family and narratives I’d bought into my entire life were stripped away, and my identity along with them. I’d figured out that I still suffered from childhood trauma and that it was making me sick. I was worn out, depressed, chronically ill, and desperate for healing. Of course, I prayed daily and spent time in the word, but I felt like that wasn’t enough. I needed to heal my trauma, I needed to quiet my mind and ground my body in the present reality, and I needed to move in gentle ways that would alleviate stress and not add to it.

Yoga seemed like the perfect fit. So I pulled up those Christian yoga channels on YouTube and got started. And I loved it. Within a few months I lost that last stubborn 20 pounds that had refused for years to come off, I felt more centered and balanced, I was strong and flexible and had more energy… what’s not to love?

I should add that I also prayed about it before I got started. My beliefs about yoga hadn’t changed, but enough of a seed of doubt had been planted that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to do anything that wasn’t pleasing to God. But I admit that I didn’t pray long about it. Pretty much, I said one prayer, basically asking for permission, and came away thinking of meat sacrificed to idols, and that yoga falls into that category. In other words, I once again settled in my conscience that the devil doesn’t own breathing and stretching and that there isn’t anything inherently pagan or worshipful about this type of exercise, and it’s a matter of Christian liberty.

So it’s all good, right?

Fast forward again another year, to January 2020, in those innocent days when rumors of a viral outbreak in China still seemed far away and unthreatening and I thought the election would be the most stressful thing going on that year. All those Instagram influencers I followed? They were all signing on for a month-long yoga challenge with an instructor named Adrienne. I’d been slacking on my yoga practice through the holidays and wanted to get back into my health groove, so I signed on as well. I’d done a few of Adrienne’s lessons on YouTube before, so I was familiar with her. I liked her well enough, even though she was a little more New Agey and woo woo than the other instructors I’d followed. I shrugged off all her talk about chakras and simply didn’t participate in the moves that she promised would open my third eye. It was fine.

Or so I told myself.

Now here’s where things get crazy. Around this time, we started having what I would call spooky incidents around the house. Things we could dismiss at first. A strange noise here, a bottle falling over by itself in the shower there, our live Christmas tree propped firmly in the corner waiting to be set up and decorated suddenly pitching forward and falling over… there had to be a rational explanation for all these things. Even as my husband and I sat in the kitchen one night and watched as the lid to our Pyrex baking dish slowly slid forward by itself and then fell on the floor, we found a way to explain it away.

And then something happened that we could neither dismiss nor explain. One night I got woken up by a bang so loud I thought a tree had fallen on the house. It sounded like it was right next to my head. We were sleeping in separate rooms at the time, because I would have to stay up late to give our Chihuahua his heart meds, and Matt was such a light sleeper, so Pete and I just slept on the guest bed in my office.

The bed was against the wall that was shared with the guest bathroom. On the other side of the wall, pretty well aligned with where my head would be, sat the crate that we keep our cat in at night.

Like I said, I thought something must have fallen on the house. The noise I heard sounded like an explosion next to my head, and it also shook me. So I got up to investigate. I looked all over, inside and out, and couldn’t find anything that could have caused that ruckus. Finally, I shrugged it off and decided to use the bathroom before I went back to bed. I’d worry about it in the morning.

So I went in the bathroom–and saw the cat crate pushed away from the wall, skewed catty-corner from its previous position, her food and water dishes on top having skidded to the edge, and our kitty Boudicca looking out at me with a terrified expression on her face.

Y’all. I don’t know what did that, but you better believe I prayed over my house and everyone in it and asked the Lord to rebuke anything that didn’t belong there before I went back to bed.

The next day, I started praying long and hard about what was going on and asked the Lord to show me anything in my life that could be inviting anything into my home that didn’t belong there. Immediately I became strongly convicted about the yoga I’d been doing and felt that I needed to stop. So I did, and I repented for doing it in the first place. And the strange activity stopped.

But the conviction didn’t. That’s when the Lord started opening my eyes to how truly spiritually dangerous yoga was for me to practice. Coincidentally, if you believe in coincidence, which I don’t, right when all of this was happening, Allie Stuckey interviewed a former New Ager turned Christian on her Relatable podcast. In this episode, Doreen Virtue explained how certain yoga poses, particularly those involved in the Sun Salutation, as well as the Warrior poses, act out a battle between Hindu gods, and how these poses are inextricably linked to Hindu worship practices. She warned that these poses can an often do open a door to unsavory spiritual forces to come into your life and oppress you. I’d heard all of this before, and scoffed. But this time, I felt convicted with a sense of certainty that what she was saying was true.

That was the first domino. Once it tipped over, more would fall with it. But I’ll save those for another post.

It’s Time to Get Real

For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to share my faith journey here on my platform. I keep putting it off because there’s so much I want to share and say, and I don’t know where to start. But getting started is always the biggest hurdle. The only way to get over it is just to pick a point and go for it.

So I’m going for it. I feel like this is necessary because in a time when so many Big Name Christians are “deconstructing” their beliefs and falling away from the faith loudly and publicly, obviously wanting to take as many people as they can down with them, it’s important to hear stories from those who, like me, have faced challenges, carefully examined their beliefs, scrutinized scripture, and come out stronger in their faith than ever before.

First, some background. I came to know Christ at a very young age. I’ve been saved as long as I can remember, and there’s not a time in my life that I’m conscious of when I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus or a reliance on God. I’ll spare you the details, but growing up with a narcissist and alcoholic for a father, my faith got me through a lot of chaos and hard times. I’ve been a prayer warrior from the age of four or five. I learned very early on how to effectively pray.

That’s both because and in spite of the fact that my family were believers. My earliest church memories are of a Vineyard-style charismatic church down the road from where we lived. My dad, though he was apathetic about God, didn’t want us going there and so at some point he started taking us to a Methodist church. He soon stopped going, but my mom continued to take us there faithfully for years, until the teaching there started taking an uncomfortably progressive turn. After that, she got us back into a non-denominational charismatic church with a strong Full Gospel flavor. And all the while, every summer a nearby Baptist church bused all the kids in my neighborhood to their Vacation Bible School. I say all of this only to point out that I had a pretty eclectic religious upbringing, and I’ve never had any loyalties to any particular denomination.

But from the time I was about 14 on, we attended the same non-denom charismatic church. Some might label it hyper-charismatic. It was heavily steeped in prosperity and Word of Faith teaching and practiced a lot of things that I wouldn’t realize until much later were unbiblical. A lot of it never sat quite right with me, but I couldn’t articulate why, and I thought the problem was with me.

Fast forward to my early thirties, when I met the man who would become my husband. By this point I had stopped attending church, though I still prayed regularly and cracked my Bible open on occasion. One evening, early in our dating relationship, I sat across from him at a coffee shop and fell more and more in love with him as he spoke animatedly and enthusiastically about the Bible, and simultaneously more and more convicted that I, a life-long Christian, knew so little about what was actually written in the word outside of the passages that prosperity teachers love to return to again and again.

The next day, I opened my Bible and started reading through the Epistles. I kept it up, day after day, and soon it became a habit. I started it mainly so I could keep up with Matt in conversation, but it didn’t take long for my eyes to be opened to the deception I’d been under for so long, and how so much of what I’d been taught was not actually what the Bible said.

That was the beginning of what I call my Great Spiritual Awakening, a process that is still ongoing today. Since then, I’ve gone through so much and learned even more. I’ve grown in ways I’d never imagined, but I’ve also fallen into — and been delivered from — other forms of deception, which I’ll be talking about here in future posts. The point of all of this is to say, the antidote for deception is knowing the truth that’s written in God’s word.

I’ll say that again: the antidote for deception is knowing the truth that’s written in God’s word.

We’re in a time right now where deception is rampant, both in the Church and in the greater world outside. We’re constantly being deceived by the media, by politicians, by doctors, by false teachers and false gospels, by conspiracy theories and people accusing us of being conspiracy theorists if we merely question the narrative, by gaslighting and propaganda… the list goes on. It’s mind-boggling, and it can feel next to impossible to know where to go for actual truth, especially in a culture that denies that objective truth is even a thing that exists.

But God’s word is truth, and it can arm you against deception and equip you to see through the lies.

For a good long while, I’ve been praying about how God wants me to show up in this small space I’ve carved out here online, and how he wants me to use my talents. He’s given me a gift for wrangling words, and I’m sure I’m meant to do more with it than tell stories about ghosts and zombies or write about dogs and cats for a living. I’ve been hesitant to dive in, partly because, like I said earlier, there’s so much to say and it’s overwhelming. And partly because it’s such a huge responsibility. I don’t want to presume to take the place of a teacher, and I certainly don’t want to come off as trying to be anyone’s Holy Spirit substitute, pushing my personal convictions onto others.

But what I know for sure is that I want to use the measure of talent and influence I’ve been given to be a light in the darkness and to combat deception with truth. And more than anything, I want to inspire women to put away fluffy, shallow Instagram Christianity and pick up their actual Bibles, to learn what is actually written in its pages, to arm themselves against deception and armor up against the spiritual onslaught that’s facing our Church, our nation and our world.

The time is past for me to fly under the radar and be timid about sharing my faith and experience.

So from here on out I’m going to be using this space (not exclusively, mind… I’ll still talk about writing, and life, and whatever strikes my fancy) to do just that. If you’re concerned I’m going to be constantly preaching, that’s not my goal. The Bible is actually a really cool and amazing book, and I hope to help you see that. And to say that Jesus himself is amazingly cool is the mother of all understatements.

We’re going to get into some interesting stuff. I”m going to share some personal stories. We’re going to talk about why I quit doing yoga, and the Enneagram, and mindfulness meditation and contemplative prayer. We’re going to talk about the historicity of the Bible and why you can trust it. We’re going to talk about the supernatural and the Powers that are waging war in the unseen realms. We’re going to talk about HOW to study your Bible, as well as WHY. We’re going to be examining false gospels and heresies and why they’re false and heretical. We’re going to look at what truly makes a Christian, Christian. I’m going to be pointing you to good teachers who can explain everything so much better than I can, and reviewing and recommending books and other resources. And more!

These times are scary, but they’re also exciting. And I was scared when I started this post, but now that I’ve laid all of this out I’m excited about this new direction.

What a time to be alive, y’all. Let’s do this.

Photo by Ryan Riggins on Unsplash

Projection 101

Something that those with what are known in the psychology world as cluster B personality disorders, particularly Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is the designation for psychopaths and sociopaths, have in common with people of a particular political persuasion is a tendency towards projection.

What is projection? I’ve touched briefly on it here before, describing it as when someone accuses someone else of what they themselves are guilty of in order to deflect blame and attention away from themselves and onto their opposition.

But it goes beyond that. People of the above mindset are wired in such a way that they are pathologically incapable of even beginning to fathom that other people are different — with different morals, different values, different moral limits, different patterns of thought — than themselves, and so they feel perfectly justified in projecting their own guilt onto others. After all, what they’re accusing you of is exactly what they would do in your situation, and so you must secretly be guilty, too. They’re just exposing what in their minds is true.

This is destructive enough on an individual level when applied to interpersonal relationships. But when a large group of people who think this way get together, combine their resources, and attain power over those who don’t think this way, things get really dangerous. Then you begin to see entire groups of people maligned for evils they would never even think of committing — and not only maligned, but punished for them.

One fortunate thing for us normals is that people with this mindset can’t help but expose themselves and their true nature by the things they accuse others of doing or  being. They tell us exactly what they would do if they were in their opponents’ position, incapable of comprehending that most of those they’re lumping together simply want to live their lives in peace, get along with others, and be free to provide for themselves and their families as they see fit. Violent people see violence all around them and expect violence from others. Disloyal people see disloyalty all around them and expect disloyalty from others. Insert your sociopathic quality here and repeat, ad nauseum.

Conversely, kind and considerate people tend to see kindness and consideration and to expect it from others, and are shocked when they’re met with unkindness and lack of consideration, and with false accusations and unjust maligning of character. It shakes us off our foundation and leaves us floundering as we try to make sense of what just happened — which is why it’s such an effective tactic that the narcopath returns to again and again. See also: gaslighting

Maya Angelou famously said, when people tell you who they are, listen to them. It’s time to listen and pay attention.

It would not be the worst idea in the world, if you have time, to educate yourself about narcissists and psychopaths and the way these people think, as well as the tactics they use to manipulate, control, and get their way. On YouTube, Richard Grannon, Dr. Ramani, and the Surviving Narcissism channel are all good places to start.

***

We’re living in perilous times, friends. I wish I had some encouragement. But one of the best things we can do, besides pray, is arm ourselves with discernment skills and learn to exercise prudence.

Yesterday, during Bible study, this thought occurred to me — that God is going to allow things to get really bad before they get better, because these latter generations, who have lived our lives in relative ease and comfort, need to be exposed first-hand to true evil and see for ourselves what it’s capable of and what happens when sin and lawlessness are allowed to go unchecked. This life is our inoculation against evil, so that we will be immune to it in the afterlife. And we’re all about to get a big dose.

But the righteous will be saved by faith. Habbakuk first said it, and Paul repeated it multiple times. What makes us righteous? Not our works or our morals or our human virtue. Nothing inherent in us. Only faith in Jesus Christ, who covers us with his righteousness.

The Lord knows them that are his, and he is in the boat with us, our rock and our refuge, our shelter in times of trouble. He will see us through the storm.

Some Thoughts About the Current State of Things

Image by Taylor Burnett from Pixabay

I mentioned in Monday’s post how one of the hallmarks of 2020 was constantly battling the feeling of cognitive dissonance from watching plots of dystopian sci-fi and horror movies from my youth play out in real life. Yesterday and this morning, I’m experiencing that feeling in spades.

Having grown up with a narcissistic parent, I’ve learned well how to recognize when I’m being gaslit, manipulated, bullied, and outright lied to. Things in our nation and culture have devolved to such a point that this is now happening daily, on both sides. Those who report and commentate on the news seem to be divided into those who are knowingly participating in the lying and gaslighting and those who are naive and deceived enough to go along with the narrative. It’s hard to know what, or who, to believe, and right now I feel like nobody’s telling the whole truth.

Just an aside: another hallmark of narcissists and psychopaths is projection — that is, accusing others of what they themselves are guilty of in order to deflect blame away from themselves. In my observations, the people who shout the loudest accusations are usually the most guilty of those things which they’re accusing others of doing or thinking. Narcopaths always tattle on themselves. Never forget that.

At any rate, I don’t know what to think about the events that unfolded yesterday, or what to believe. I do know, now that the dust has settled a bit, that the events at the Capitol disrupted the proceedings just in time to prevent Cruz and Hawley, et al, from formally making their protests, and put an end to all debate about the veracity of the election outcome. Upon reflection, it seems like the only ones who benefited from those shenanigans were Biden and the Left. If it was indeed Trump supporters who led the charge, they undermined everything their side claimed to desire and destroyed all future hopes of a political future for the President as well as ensuring that, at best, no one will ever take their side seriously again, and at worse, that all Trump supporters will be branded as crazies and terrorists.

I want to share two videos for your consideration, and I suggest you watch them quickly before they’re removed. The first is only a minute long. I’m not sure who this guy is or where the footage was obtained, or even if he’s telling the truth, but I don’t find his claims hard to believe.

The second is longer, around 45 minutes, but I urge you to make time to watch it. I find this woman extremely credible and, as crazy as everything she’s saying would have sounded a year ago, after 2020, it’s all completely believable to me.

(Update: YouTube already took the second video down. I’ve replaced it with a copy from Vimeo. If that should disappear as well, here’s a link to watch it on Bitchute.)

Like I told my husband last night, life in our present age feels a lot like how it felt growing up with an alcoholic narcissist — never able to relax, always bracing for the next crazy thing, never sure what to believe, wondering if I’m the one who’s crazy.

And yet, through it all, I have a deep, abiding sense of peace. I have peace because, in the midst of all the lying and gaslighting, I have the objective, absolute truth of God’s word as an anchor. I know that the Creator of the universe is sovereign over all of His creation, that He installs governments, raises up their leaders and removes them as He sees fit. I know that He has a plan, and that His plans always prevail, and that nothing happens that He doesn’t allow, and that He works ALL things together for ultimate good, and in the end, nobody’s going to get away with anything.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. –Romans 8:28 (NASB)

We can’t trust our media, we can’t trust our government, and we can’t trust our politicians. Put your trust in God, and in Jesus Christ his Son. They will never fail you.

2013: Blessing In Disguise

I’m not going to beat around the bush: 2013 was not a good year. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it had very little to offer in the way of high points and was filled with a lot of very low lows. Low-lights include losing one of my uncles and one of our cats, substantial freelance income loss and a whole lot of stress and frustration.

There was also a lot of blaming myself and beating myself up, feeling completely helpless and useless, and wondering why God was punishing us. What can I say? It’s hard to think healthy and helpful thoughts when you’re standing knee-deep in the doo. 

Surrender

God has really been at work in me lately. He’s been patiently pulling me through a rather painful and difficult process of learning to let things go, to stop being led by my ego and my stubborn desires and to submit my will to His.

I confess that we haven’t been happy lately. Pretty much the opposite, really. Not with each other, I should clarify — our marriage is the one great thing we’ve got going. Well, and our dog. He’s pretty great, too. He makes us laugh when we really don’t feel like laughing. But everything we’ve been working on and toward has ground to a halt. For a little while there it seemed like the freelance biz was starting to pick up and maybe head toward success, but it’s floundering again, and while we’re still managing to scrape by, home repairs are piling up, and other little emergencies keep cropping up, and things have been overwhelming and we’ve just kind of been drifting, directionless, not knowing where to go next or what to do. It’s like God suddenly said, “NOPE! This isn’t the direction I want for you guys.” And for a while, instead of humbling ourselves and praying for Him to show us the right direction, we (I, mostly) kept stubbornly butting our heads against the wall trying to make it move.

I’ve done a lot of crying out to the Lord in my frustration in the last couple of months. I’ve done a lot of casting about for something or someone (other than myself) to blame. But I’ve also been digging deeper into scripture and realizing that I’m the one who needs to change. I need to surrender my pride and my ego and humble myself to God’s will. I need to surrender all of my desires and give God rein over my life. I need to stop seeking my own pleasure and start seeking His. I need to stop trying to wrestle everything into submission to my own will and start trusting in Him to care for us. And I need to stop putting him in the back seat in certain areas of my life.

These are of course hard lessons for any Christian, but I think they might be especially hard for those who, like me, were raised in faith and grew up taking God and Christ and salvation and faith and etc. for granted. It’s hard to fully understand passages of scripture that talk about putting off the old man when you were only five years old when you got saved. It’s too tempting to think that you don’t have an old man to put off.

So now, at 40 years old, I’m just now beginning to grasp what it means to present myself a living sacrifice. I’m finally starting to understand that in letting myself be broken down like this I’m giving God material to work with so He can build me back up, and He’ll build me into something better than I ever could have imagined for myself.

Since I’ve come to that realization, things are starting to turn around. Doors are starting to open for us again. Matt and I had a heart-to-heart the other day about re-examining and re-defining our priorities and what changes we need to make to ensure that we’re walking in God’s will. Part of that is that we both need to start looking for work outside of the home, because God clearly hasn’t blessed our home business. We have to accept that maybe that’s not something He wants for us right now. Maybe it’s not something He wants for us ever. And that’s okay, because whatever He has for us will be better. At any rate, I have my peace back, and I’m full of hope for the first time in a long time.

Last year, we got to a point where business died down, and out of sheer desperation I started looking for a full-time job. I did so grudgingly. I cried a lot. I was resentful. I didn’t put my all into the search. Somehow, I still managed to find a job, but it was a terrible job and I only lasted there about six weeks, and I cried almost every day that I worked there. I came out of it resolved to make our business work no matter what.

But now, there are two differences. For one thing, we’re not desperate. We’ve still got some work coming in, plus content mill writing (which isn’t my favorite, but I’m grateful for it regardless), and while it’s not enough to prosper, it’s enough to make ends meet while I take the time to find the right job — the right job being one that meets all of our needs and is well-suited to my personality and abilities.

The other, biggest difference is that this time I have total and utter peace and contentment about going back to full-time employment. I’m even a little excited about it. And as we make our plans, I trust that the Lord will order our steps. I look forwarding to seeing where He leads us.

A Spark of Hope, Extinguished

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