What My Problem Was
I recently finished Mary DeMuth wonderful new book, Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Makes You Worthy. I love all of Mary’s books, but this one is special. It tackles a topic that is close to my heart: the lies that mess with our sense of worth, and the Truth that sets us free when we let it. God’s timing never fails to amaze me. While reading Worth Living, I happened to be marveling over a heart-healing that reflected one of her points.
It started several months ago with a frustrating, “This doesn’t make sense” struggle.
The insecurities began oozing out while participating in a ministry I loved (and still love). The director was wonderful! She’d become a friend. I’d made lots of friends in this ministry! We did fun things together. I’d received nothing but supportive feedback and nice comments. If I was asked to do something differently, the suggestion came in such a kind, respectful way that I felt thankful for the opportunity to grow and improve. Whenever my turn came to serve, I had a great time. So why the bouts with anxiety later? Why did I occasionally catch myself losing my confidence? Why were certain things suddenly translating in my mind as, “You aren’t good enough”? Why did I picture the same people who said, “Good job” discussing my shortcomings behind my back? Why did I not trust nice friends to stay nice?
What was my problem? Nothing had happened to warrant this silliness! Had I gone insane?
God made it clear that I needed to hash this out with Him. I knew the answer to “What is my problem, God?” I’d known it all along but felt the need to slough it off. (When are you going to get over that? It happened how many years ago?) This wasn’t something I could blame on the divorce. It came from a different place.
I sensed something brewing when someone sent me a blog post that included, “Until we’ve grieved over a past hurt, it will keep resurfacing . . .” That line came back to me while making sense of memories from a time that I now refer to as a perfect storm of mixed messages. I’d received a lot of praise and many exciting opportunities, and I had some great friends, but other experiences . . . those explained the onslaughts of fear—every one of them. They’d set the standard for what I expected from people, what was expected of me, what made me valuable, and who got to decide what was true about me. Self-esteem issues only complicated the situation.
It took this annoying inability to trust a good thing for me to accept that, even though I’d had plenty of better experience since “the perfect storm,” I’d been wounded by it, and I’d let that wound fester for far too long. Kindness (of all things!) had re-opened it.
When I found myself feeling sad, even over the role my neediness played in the whole mess, I realized I was doing what that quote from the blog post suggested—admitting something hurt and grieving over it so it wouldn’t keep resurfacing. To my surprise, the process didn’t require therapy or a support group, just a journal, my Bible, some teary moments, and divinely-placed friends. Through this I recognized how God had been using my new ministry experience to heal those wounds. Finally, I could see the gift in front of me, but in order to fully embrace it I needed to release one more piece of the past.
One night, during a late-night talk with one of those divinely-placed friends, I decided it was time to let go of that old hurt. I had no idea how to do it, only that I wanted to. We prayed, and I went home feeling like I’d rid my heart of poison.
Isn’t that what the enemy’s lies are?
The next time I served, I felt surprisingly free!
I am finally able to truly relax and enjoy what God is doing now instead of letting the past muck it up. Insecurities still surface, but I ride them out more quickly.
This is why I so appreciate Mary’s book, because it reflects work that God has done in me over the past few years, and recently. It includes a line very similar to the one mentioned earlier:
“Grief is the threshold we must cross in order to be set free from the past.”
The story I just shared reminds me how true that is. Perhaps Worth Living contains some truths that you need too.
Which lies has the enemy used to rob you of joy, stand between you and good relationships, or distract you from the new things God wants to do in your life?
How has He used grief to release you from the past?
I’d love to hear your story. Please share it in a comment and I’ll put your name in a drawing for a free copy of Worth Living!