I lost life as I knew it over the course of one year a while back. Of course it was a slow build up to that year, but denial has a funny way of making you blind to what is coming.
(The complete story of this trip into the wasteland of my soul is recorded in my last book, Climbing Out of the Box.)
Through years of denial, spiritual abuse, and unresolved childhood abuse issues, my life broke apart in huge chunks and floated away on a sea of despair. I lost my marriage, my home, myself, my church, and my children moved out…and did I mention I lost myself?
…all within a few months of each other.
Then I entered the wasteland of devastation and loss and an overload of “feelings”.
How can I describe the feelings?
It was like being on a huge merry go round, holding on for dear life, trying to look like I had a grip but my vise gripped fingers were sliding off with every whirl. It twirled faster and faster until my hands did lose their grip and I was flung off into space with magnitude force into nothingness with no idea where I would finally land. When I did land I felt like I was smothering in feelings and couldn’t breathe; Kind of like being buried alive.
In the years that followed I was alone with myself and thought I would never recover from the empty shell that was me.
My feelings became my faithful companions until I finally started talking to God. Boy did I have the questions.
The most fascinating thing to me was that He never left. He stepped back, though, to give me time to come to the place of realizing all my answers were in Him. He is always so patient with us.
As I called upon Him in my solitary place, He began to heal my frayed and broken heart. I was ruled by my feelings at the point of quiet desperation and had been since the beginning of the dirge into blackness.
And then the healing began. I learned so much in the next few years of exile.
One of the things I learned was that my feelings didn’t have to rule me or dictate to me how to act for the rest of my life.
When we call upon Him in our feelings of abandonment and reach deep into our still, quiet heart, where He dwells,
Our fears lose their power to control us;
Our “out of control” anger loses its power to devastate anyone lying in its wake….and
Our depression loses its power to consume us.
Our feelings lose their control over us.
That still, quiet center of us, where He resides, is where we are aware of His presence the most. Learn how to quiet yourself and find that spot of uninterruption and you will find His voice.
He centers us.
He is our anchor.
When we call upon Him, we find the power to let go of our resentment and ask for forgiveness. We can also forgive ourselves and be free. We can let go of the past and move into the stillness of living large in the here and now.
And then we learn to trade in our profound shame for vulnerability with others, for in Him we are safe; and we trade in our fear of being embarrassed, to finally being transparent.
Our feelings provide the fertile ground of captivity for us.
If we listen to them they will kill our creativity that God wants to use. They will squelch our love for others and undermine our knowledge of redemption and grace.
What if we just decided to stop listening to our feelings, and started listening to what God says about us; and start focusing in on His still whispers of direction and love? What if we make a conscious decision to believe we are really hearing His voice and just do it…by faith?
And accepting our feelings as real, for they are very real, but not necessarily true if they become our dictating force and despair. They can betray us in portraying Gods words as not trust worthy.
It is like a drop of soothing, healing water to accept that our feelings are real, but can be deceptive outside of God’s truth about us.
“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?” I said
“What sounds good?” He said.
“Hmmmmm, not sure. We could go here!” I said.
“Nah, that doesn’t sound good to me.” He said.
“Okay, well, how about here.” I said.
“I’m bored with their food.” He said.
“Well, then YOU make the choice.” I said.
“No, because if I do you won’t like it.” He said.
“I promise to like it. You just choose.” I said.
“I don’t know where I want to go.” He said.
“Oh for Pete’s sake, let’s just go here then. It’ll be fine.” I said.
“Finally, I’m starving.” He said.
“The service here is horrible. The food is not good. YOU should have made a better choice.” I said.
Have you ever made a choice and when the outcome wasn’t so good, blamed the results of your poor choice on someone else? Boundary violations are about not taking responsibility for our own choices and trying to lay the responsibility of those choices on someone else.
How often do we use the phrase, “I HAD to”, or “HE made me do it.” Whom are we blaming for the circumstances of our lives?
The above dialogue is just a comical scenario that many couples find themselves in often, including me. But the truth behind it is that many of us are afraid to set boundaries in our lives for fear of making the wrong choices as if we are powerless over our own behavior.
We have good hearts. So, we need to trust our hearts to know when to say no and when to take responsibility for our own choices. We are not victims. Whatever our circumstances we can make choices to change ourselves regardless of what others are doing.
We are to love one another, not BE one another. Learning to respect someone else’s boundaries is vital if we want to know how to take charge of our own lives.
We learn to accept other’s freedoms to say no, and not get angry, feel guilty, or remove our love from them. When we give others room to say no it sets us free as well.
No one wants their boundaries violated. So why do we allow it? Why do we NOT enforce or uphold our boundaries? The three main answers are:
The truth, however, is that if you don’t learn to put up boundaries for yourself and take responsibility for your choices you only enable others to take control in your life. You will experience the very things you fear the most as a result and the enemy will come in and devour your self esteem.
Establishing healthy boundaries and enforcing them opens the door for you to step into your authentic self with confidence. You deserve to be authentically liked, loved, and respected.
If you would like to hear more on Boundaries, leave a comment.
“It is for freedom He has set us free!!” Galatians 5:1
If you’d like coaching on boundaries in your life, contact me: http://www.reflectionsofgracehome.com/lifecoaching.html
As a young believer coming into a new group of believers I was so shy. I kept to myself though I longed to join other young couples and make friends. I would watch them gather together and keep myself apart from them because I felt so inferior. I had nothing to offer them, I thought. I just have to look good and they will think I am together. It didn’t work. I mistakenly thought they didn’t like me. This was because I always believed I was flawed because I was abused as a child. Then one day one of the young mothers told me that she would like to be my friend but that I was giving off the persona that I was better than them. What? All the time I was dying to make friends, they thought I was snooty because of my little act of sufficiency. This was eye opening to me. I decided that no matter how I felt on the inside I would “put on” who I wanted to be. I started going up to people and act very friendly and welcome them to church, as if I was the director of customer service. I would stand in the foyer and greet people as if I was appointed the job, which I wasn’t. People started lighting up when they would see me and I made many friends. I found out from many of them that they were afraid to approach me.
Years later I found myself working frantically for God to be more acceptable to Him. I became addicted t o “ministry” to cover my own lack of self esteem. I had learned to paint the picture of being a worthy person very well. The busier I became in helping people the more accolades of praise and admiration they would lavish me with. Their words filled the deep holes in my soul that I so needed to feel important—temporarily, just as any addiction does. I didn’t understand Grace. I didn’t really know Jesus intimately. Oh, I knew He had redeemed me and I was going to Heaven. But I didn’t know He loved me exactly as I am and wanted to fill those deep holes with only Him. I was slowly sinking into a loss I was not prepared for.
I was caught up in legalism. I thought if I worked hard enough God would find me acceptable. Where did that come from? Was it correct thinking? I appeared righteous and spiritual, but inside I was ultimately failing to accomplish God’s purposes because my life was based on outward performance instead of inward change. Being a victim of incest at an early age I always thought that I was less than everyone else. I was miserable around people because I just knew they could see my flaws, thus, the constant working to prove myself worthy.
Quite often, from earliest childhood mostly, we are taught something born out of someone else’s insecurity, prejudice, ignorance, or our very own victimizations. These things form the way we think about ourselves. It is amazing how we can go a lifetime believing lies and living them as truth, based only on our past injuries.
Mistaken thinking can interfere with the plan God has for you on this earth. It can keep you down. It can keep you stuck in a strong hold that will blind you to God’s plan for you. We need to unlearn the things we have believed all of our lives in order to get unstuck in areas we just can’t seem to move forward in.
What are some areas you have mistakenly believed and walked in most of your life, or maybe, all of your life? Here are some examples:
I am unworthy of love.
God loves me only if I am productive.
I need to rescue people in order for them to like me.
I am an island.
Don’t trust anyone.
I am a victim for the rest of my life.
Never give up control.
People are cruel
Self esteem is based on good looks, riches, popularity, or power.
I have to be perfect.
I can fix people.
I must always play it safe.