I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for more than 30 years. My abuser gave good face; was elusive and discreet. And yet, my anxiety and how I saw myself was becoming increasingly indiscreet. In retrospect, I don’t think I knew what was happening or that the relationship was unhealthy. Imagine my horror when I came into knowledge and realized that the offender was me. That’s right. For more than 30 years, I abused me.
How else would you describe a relationship when you allow someone to discount, negate, judge, and criticize you? What would you call someone that reminded you of your shameful acts, shortcomings or belittled your accomplishments? Whose name calling and labeling have so penetrated your soul that you now second guess yourself and no longer trust your judgment? Now, the ‘accuser of the brethern’ played a role in all of this. He got the party started, but after a while, he didn’t have to say a thing. I was well conditioned and could finish his sentences concerning me.
That defines the relationship I used to have with myself. Critical of what I saw in the mirror. Hesitant to interject and contribute to thoughtful dialogue for fear that I didn’t sound as thoughtful. Stopped sharing jokes because someone said they were corny. If that wasn’t bad enough, I married someone who would faithfully fill in for me on those days I decided to take off. I subjected my mind, body and soul to people, places and things that diminished me in my own eyes, defiled my being and broke my heart.
Years ago, when I placed a demand on my faith and asked God to be my God and not just my mother’s God, I think I caught a vision of Him leaping, like a third-string player being called off the bench by the coach. One of the first things He told me to do was to breakup with me, to breakup with my old self.
Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
During the breakup period, I learned that every time someone labeled me, criticized me without God’s filter, if I did not negate it on the spot, I essentially came into agreement with it. And when you come into agreement with something, you tend to live up to that something, your decisions reflect that something, and you choose people that reinforce that something.
What labels or attitudes have you come into agreement with?
SELFISH; SLOW; TOO AGGRESSIVE; LAZY; AVERAGE; UNCOORDINATED; CLUMSY; MEAN; ANGRY; SHY; INSECURE; NO SENSE OF DIRECTION; I’M A MISTAKE; SOCIALLY AWKWARD; JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER/FATHER; YOU WON’T WIN; IT WON’T LAST; YOU’LL FAIL; YOU NEED HIM/HER; THEY DON’T LIKE YOU; THAT’S THE BEST YOU’LL EVER DO, BE, GO—
Breaking up is always painful, even when you know its good for you. With great patience and empathy, Holy Spirit led me through the Word and taught me how to cancel out past and future words spoken over me that did not line up with His Word or how He saw me.
The healing didn’t end there. Jesus told me that I had to break up with religion. Abandon the idea that I have to perform for Him. End the weight-bearing rituals and church formulas that have been passed on from generation to generation because it distorted how I saw Him and subsequently related to Him.
I didn’t see Him as a Father. I didn’t see myself as worthy. In fact, I said often, “I am not worthy.” Many Christians say this- as part of our prayers, public confessions and humble testimonies. And in so doing, in our genuine gratitude and tendency to speak church-ese, we inadvertently diminish our standing as a child of God.
I am making a distinction between worthy and deserving. To have worth is about value and position. To be deserving is about merit and performance. Are we deserving of the love, mercy, forgiveness and generosity of God? No. Are we worthy of His love, mercy, forgiveness and generosity? He says yes, and He paid a heavy price to prove it.
If you walk in a spirit of unworthiness, you will engage with your Father more like a beggar than a son or daughter; like a guest in your own home- asking for permission to go into the refrigerator. You wish with crossed fingers, instead of praying with expectation. Your life mistakes and mishaps cause you to hide behind fig leaves. When you call yourself unworthy of the Lord’s love, your saying that His salvation isn’t enough; that it wasn’t finished (John 19:30). How dishonoring is that to the greatest gift given to the world?
My daughter, Reese, is 12 years old and everything that comes with being 12. I think I’ve seen her eyes turn colors right in front of me. I told her once (or twice) I could arrange for her to meet Jesus face-to-face…if she wanted me to. She has cost me money, lost me money, deprived me of sleep, taken over my schedule, and created emergencies for the entire family. And will look at me as if I had a problem.
Does Reese deserve my generosity? Uh-no. And yet, that kid could have A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. she wants that’s within my power to give. She’s my daughter. She’s valuable to me. She has position in my heart. Because of my affection for her, Reese gets to share in my bounty. I love her even when she’s not acting lovable. I would think she was crazy if she came to me pleading, Supreme Feminine Being, I know I am so unworthy but may I have lunch money… just for today?
That’s how many of us are relating to God. We are abusing ourselves by agreeing with the negative words spoken over us or by us. We experience a dwarfed relationship with Jesus, and consequently live in heartbreaking disappointment.
So unnecessary! John 17:23 tells us that God loves you just as much as He loves Jesus! Not a little less than—just as much!
I challenge you today to breakup with your old self, to speak positive and affirming words over your life that cancel out the critical and hurtful ones. I challenge you to see yourself as God does; as worthy, valuable, and irreplaceable. I challenge you to act like a son; to act like a daughter. Your Father is sitting on the bench, ready for the opportunity for you to let Him act like a Daddy.
What old labels, words or mindset will you give up today?
This week, I leave you with a few scriptures to remind you of His affection for you. I pray it enlivens your heart.
I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:18
[The Father] guarded him as the apple of his eye. Deuteronomy 32:10
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us. In love he predestined us to be adopted as His [children]. Ephesians 1:3-5
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1