I realize that’s a crazy sounding title.
“Are you… you?” As in, am I harboring multiple personalities? Am I someone else? Huh?
No… not what I mean. (and heads up – you may want to break this one into a few days! 🙂 )
Here’s the thing: all of us are wounded; all of us are sinners. Some of us are so wounded we won’t even acknowledge our wounding, and others can’t see the absolute marvelous blessing it is to forever be a sinner. In either case, we often are not behaving out of who we are created to be.
Let’s start with wounding. From the time we are babies, we navigate creating our sense of self. We look to a human face as an infant first, and then we begin to synthesize non-verbal cues into whom others see us to be. We’re simply sponge, developing primitive skills at excruciatingly slow rates – basic things like knowing that painful thing in our stomach goes away when we are fed, and realizing that if we cry mom will feed us. While all of this is going on, we’re busy developing socially also. We learn smiles are good things, frowns not so much. If we are living in an abusive home where our basic needs for nourishment, comfort and safety are neglected, at some point we might learn that our needs don’t get met no matter what we do – and we more easily become wounded.
The enemy has a hand in this too. I stood at the top of the stairs, 9 months pregnant, and one of my kids at age 3 decided that I didn’t love him anymore because of the new baby. This is one of his first memories. What’s crazy relieving and angering righteous-style is that I did everything “right” in that moment. He wanted me to pick him up. I was in tons of pain – combine a connective tissue disorder, tiny bone structure, and what turned out to be a 9lb 15oz baby, and I couldn’t lift him. I squatted down to his level when he asked me to carry him. I said something like, “Oh, honey, I wish I could. I love carrying you, and after the baby is born, I’ll be able to do that sometimes again. Right now, my tummy is so big and I hurt so much I can’t pick you up. How about I sit next to you and give you a hug for a while?” And that’s what we did instead.
I remember the moment because he gave me a funny look. He said okay, but something seemed a little off. He later told me that He “just knew” that I didn’t love him anymore, and that the baby was taking his spot. I learned that when he was 12 years old. The enemy of our souls is very good at what he does – so please know that even if it was possible to be the perfect parent (which I’m not btw, but that was one of the “got it right” moments), wounding CAN STILL occur. All of us are wounded in some way – it’s just some of us know where and choose to deal with it. That’s part of being self-aware and choosing to grow like God commands us.
Which brings me to the second point I made above: there’s tremendous freedom in knowing that we are now and will always be sinners. Saved by grace sinners, but none of us will ever live a perfect life, we’ll never do everything right, and we can’t possibly be right all the time. There’s only one Jesus. When I realized this truth, it took a ton of pressure off of me. I strive to do my best regardless, but I stopped beating myself up when I sin. I still have a bit of grief over these things when they occur, but I don’t dwell on them. I confess, apologize to those I injure and God, and then get on with things, trying to do better, and receiving grace. I don’t receive condemnation from myself or others once I have repented. There’s freedom and great courage in those things – that’s where the “life abundant” that Jesus talks about lives.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
This abundant living can occur today – now-style. It’s not just for heaven. It shows up when we start looking at conflict as a necessary and even good thing. We accept hard and painful times as good, even when we cannot see the good until we’re through the pain. We see it when we are no longer afraid to speak the truth in love – to anyone, including our spouse, our parents, our children, our friends, etc.
This is the first evidence of whether or not we respect ourselves, in my humble opinion.
We stop living in fear. And this needs to occur, because the opposite of abundant living is what could be “shackled living” where we are trapped by fear, and fear is sin. Doing anything that God tells us not to do, essentially, is sin. Failing to do things that God tells us to do is also sin. It helps a lot to know the Bible. The Bible is worth reading over and over again, daily-style, because the text is a living document, capable of speaking into the Now that you are currently in. It is the most common way God speaks to His children (those who have accepted Christ as the payment for their sin).
If you aren’t sure if you are one of God’s children, let’s take a moment and talk about that. Because God is perfect and holy and we are not, we need to somehow make restitution for that. We can’t though – so Jesus does it for us – and if you have chosen to learn His commands, obey Him, and really believe He is God and died and rose from the dead, you are one of His children.
If you haven’t done that yet, right now, you can choose to – just say to God, “Thank You for sending Jesus as the way to You. I know I am not worthy of eternal life, and that my heart deserves the fires of hell for the many sins I have committed, including ones I don’t even know about yet. Thank You that Jesus paid the price for my sins, and because of Him, He stands before me, presenting me as without stain. I have chosen to follow His teaching, learn to know and love You and others more, and fully believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He died for me, rose from the dead, and is Your Son, but also You, along with the Holy Spirit. Thank You for this gift of salvation – and I know I can go to heaven, but relationship with You means so much more. Help me experience Your presence, Your peace, and live to please only You with my life. It’s Yours. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.”
That prayer includes a few extras – you really only have to choose to believe that Christ is God and God’s Son, that He died on the cross, and rose from the dead; then make Him Lord of your entire life (by reading the Bible consistently, praying, listening, and obeying His Word), and confess to others verbally that this is true for you. Romans 10:9 spells this out clearly. You’ll notice that the verse includes the word “heart,” in many translations. It is my prayer that it is more than a choice, but a yearning, an ache for you. If it’s not, ask Him to make it that way – and He will!
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …”
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
A good chunk of the problems we have with sin, and healing from our various wounds is that we don’t really know who God made us to be. We have a hard time wrapping our brains around the gifting He’s given us, and we don’t think deeply about things – we distract and numb ourselves to His still small voice with screens and busyness. Given that we’re seeing research that reveals the critically important bonding between parents and children is being damaged by screens, and on top of that, there’s now research that shows cell phone radiation could be detrimental to a fetus, it’s a great idea to limit our “screen time” anyway. We need to get quiet, reflect daily on Him, who He made us to be, and get our marching orders from the Word of God, the Bible. He will amaze you with giving you just what you need just when you need it.
Much of what we need to learn about ourselves occurs if we’ll just take time to be quiet and observant. If we ask God how He gifted us, He’ll bring to mind our strengths, and our opportunities. Today’s dare is in two parts and will take you several days to do. The first part is to spend time reflecting on your gifting, and if money isn’t an issue, taking a Strength Finder’s test. Whether or not you decide to spring for the online test, sitting and asking God some questions and journaling about the answers will be beneficial.
What About You?
• How did today speak to you as you read through the verses and thoughts about fears and abundant living?
• How do these fears affect who you think God made you to be?
• What are the top 3 things you absolutely LOVE to do?
• What are the top 3 things other people say you do well?
• What then, in looking at those 6 items above, would you say are your greatest strengths?
• What would you (and others) say are weaknesses of yours? (limit 3)
• How do your fears affect your strengths and weaknesses?
• How does writing all of this out make you feel?
The second part of today’s dare is also based on some crazy-good research from a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook named, Arthur Aron. He has studied relationships extensively and has created a list of questions that can deeply connect people to each other, creating intimacy that usually takes weeks to months. We’ll use these same 30+ questions with other people intentionally in a coming dare, but for now, INTERVIEW YOURSELF. Part of being self-aware (while of course knowing how your behavior impacts others) is knowing yourself and what you really think about certain things, understanding your values and deeper thoughts, if you will. Most of the questions come from Aron’s research, but I’ve added a few that we’ve seen work as well, and are faith-based. Take as much time as you need to respond to these questions in your journal. In the words of Dale Carnegie, “become genuinely interested in other people,” but today, that person is YOU. If you are doing this dare journey in a group, have your participants write out their answers and let them keep them to themselves. Aron’s book is Handbook of Closeness and Intimacy, in case you want to do further study. It’s pretty academic and is a collection of studies.
Here are some of the questions:
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Why?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Who is the person you admire most? Name 3 things you have in common with this person.
8. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
10. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
11. If God could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
12. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
13. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life thus far?
14. What do you value most in a friendship?
15. What is your most treasured memory?
16. What is your most terrible memory?
17. When is a time you felt most cared for?
18. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
19. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
20. Complete this sentence: ”I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
21. If you were going to become a close friend with someone, what would you most want him or her to know?
22. What talents has God given you that you appreciate most?
23. What is your embarrassing moment in your life and why?
24. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
25. What is something you have always liked about yourself?
26. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
27. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
The purpose of these questions is to give you an idea of how to be interested in who God made you to be. You have specific thoughts and are an interesting and unique person. The relationship you have with yourself begins with knowing yourself well. These questions encourage you to interact with yourself. This is the basis for knowing two very important things for growth: 1) what you think about something, and 2) what you feel about it.
Too many times we find ourselves allowing ourselves to be controlled or vicariously lived through by another person. We have co-dependent relationships where we are afraid to do the right thing because we are too concerned about what someone else thinks of us. Some of this begins with not knowing what we even think so we are easily manipulated, and even before that, we are not in the habit of actually being interested in what we, as an individual think about something. We don’t take a moment to ask God what we should think about it. We just get carried away in someone else’s wishes – and too often, it’s not what we should have done.
Pray with me?
I thank You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I thank You for knitting me together in my mother’s womb, and for generously giving me gifts for Your glory. Help me learn to serve You with them. Help me learn that pride gets in the way of understanding who You’ve made me to be, but also find the confidence in the ability to be comfortable in who I am. I confess I feel so awkward sometimes, and fear grabs hold of me, sometimes even keeping me from doing what You’ve gifted and made me to do.
Help me not give way to fear, Lord. Help me do what is right and feel good, even if I am afraid when I do the right thing. Help me stop doing things because other people pressure me to, and instead, find myself in how You’ve made me, and help me grow in those strengths. Help me see where I am wounded, oh Lord, reveal to me the areas in my life that need healing. Show me where they get in the way of how You’ve made me. Help me overcome these wounds with Your truth, comfort, peace, and power. Show me as I meditate on the first moments I remember of that wounding, the specific incidents, reveal to me where Jesus is in those moments. Your Word says You will never leave me or forsake me, so help me see You in the moments that have wounded me. Help me see what is true. Help me not serve to please man, but instead to please You. Help me live my life for the Audience of One, God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. It is in Jesus Christ’s Name I pray, Amen.
The bottom line here is that to know how to heal from our woundings, we need to be self-aware – we need to know ourselves and how our behavior affects others. We have to first start with knowing ourselves, though.
Dare you to take a good hard look at whether or not what you actually do lines up with how He made you. There may be areas where you don’t know your gifting yet, and that’s okay. Do you have someone controlling your behavior? Are you doing what God would have you do, taking time to think and pray before acting, or are you allowing yourself to be a puppet for someone else?
Double dog dare you to consider the thoughts you had as you completed the many questions. Were they mostly positive and encouraging thoughts, or negative, maybe even shaming, guilty ones? How comfortable were you in interacting with yourself over these things?
Triple dog dare you to answer these questions: What do you sense God wants you to know about your woundings and giftings? What A-Ha’s did you have from this exercise? What does He want you to do with that?
Am seriously interested in hearing your reaction and thoughts about these things. 🙂
Chime in on the comments section below with your initial response, and then after you do the exercises, come back and let’s keep talking.
Love to you,
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