Allowing God to Affirm Me
It seems that victims (or former victims) of any kind of abuse hunger for validation in their hearts. Actually, not hunger — starve. Recently, one of our anonymous contributors wrote this post. And I quote:
When we are degraded and made to feel worthless and are unloved by the very one who is supposed to demonstrate Christ’s love to us, it distorts the entire picture of Christ and His love for us. I began to doubt and think that God saw me the way my abuser saw me. Hence, I began to look for approval from others, to be loved and accepted and so I could think that the abuser was wrong in his treatment of me – that I did not deserve it, and therefore God should not think of me that way either. If only I could gain acceptance and love somewhere.
I could easily have written this paragraph. In my first marriage, I was desperate to be loved and accepted. My view of God eroded and I did not know how to redeem it on my own. And I was very sure that God’s view of me was poor, as well. When I went to church, I was looking for some sort of esteem somewhere . . . anywhere. I have since repented of this, as church is not to be used that way. In fact, no person or institution or anything is to be used that way. Sadly, wherever I went for validation, I found none. I just was not in the right place for that. But, it may have been a blessing. Our esteem is not to be found in man. It is always a joy when someone reminds me that I am a child of God, when someone edifies or lifts me up or encourages me. We are called to do this for each other and it is important. But, ultimately, we do not rely on people for our worth, right? Ultimately, our worth is very much found in Christ. We all know that. But, how do we get there? I mean, how does a person learn to anchor herself or himself to the Anchor of our souls? I will share with you a few things that I have done to help myself become solid in my identity in Christ. Hopefully, it will help others who have had the same struggles as I.
First, (and I believe I have mentioned this before), I have written down the lies that I have been told about myself and the lies I have believed all on my own. These lies are on the left side of the paper. On the right side, I have listed the Truth. Sometimes, I attach Scripture, as well. For example, one of the lies is this: “You are a burden”. To this, I have replied:
I am not a burden, I have gifts that will bless others and honor God. I am part of a Chosen People, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation and God’s special possession. 1 Peter 2:9
I keep this list in my Bible and read it almost every day.
Next . . . I listen much much more to Jesus during my prayer time. Today, I was struggling . . . feeling a bit low as I allowed the lies to creep back into my mind. I read through 1 John this morning and then, just defeated, I put my head down on the table and wept. And then, something new happened. I felt as though God had His hand on my shoulder (at the risk of sounding really surreal). I just listened. And, as I listened, God brought to mind all of the precious, emotion-filled moments of my life . . . the eight or nine times where I just knew He was there . . . the times where I knew I loved Him . . . the times where I knew His hand was on me . . . and, one by one, He played them back to me like a movie. He started with when I was little . . .
. . . The time when I was 7 years old and my earthly father took me through a book to explain what Communion was and why we do it. I began to love Jesus then.
. . . The time when I was 8 years old and home sick from church. I laid in my grandmother’s guest room and watched some form of the Jesus Movie in its entirety. I wept. My heart ached that my sin would pin Jesus to a cross.
. . . The time when I was 11 and I could not get enough of the Bible narratives. Reading them on my own, I developed a real love for God’s Word.
. . . Again, at age 11, when I cried out to Jesus in loneliness on my bed, begging to know Him, wanting to be loved. I knew I needed Him.
. . . The time when I was in college and I felt distant from Him. Waking up in the middle of the night, I wept as I drew near to Him again for the first time in a long time.
. . . The time I was notified by a policeman and a priest at the front door that my parents had been killed in a car accident. He held me up — literally. And then He held me for weeks and months afterward.
. . . The four hours afterward when I waited through a long night alone (besides our dog barking) for four hours at our kitchen table . . . waiting until morning to call my siblings and tell them we had lost our parents. It was the longest wait of my life, and Jesus was there.
. . . Every single time I wept alone in the bathroom or in my bed during the 11-12 years of my first marriage. Jesus was there; He never left me.
. . . When my faith was hanging by a thread, amidst extreme confusion and persecution, after I left my first husband. Weeping in our tiny kitchen/bathroom/laundry room, God told me that He still required obedience — to love those around me and love Him with all my heart. The comfort was astounding.
By listening to Christ this morning, and opening my heart to really hear Him, He brought to my memory the nearness of Him within the different stages of my life. I was so reassured, friends, that I belong to Him and always have. Even as I write this, my words are inadequate to describe how I walked away with a full heart and confidence in my spirit as I had just experienced the Holy Spirit witnessing to my spirit that I am sealed in Him.
My sweet husband, David, shared a verse with me the other day:
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant. Psalm 25:14 ESV
Here it is in two different versions:
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them. NIV
God-friendship is for God-worshipers;
They are the ones he confides in. The Message
God speaks to us in our relationship with Him. Confides (astounding). Rarely am I quiet enough to listen! But, I will be doing that a whole lot more now! He is our King and our Friend (amazing). By listening to Him today, He graciously and mercifully reminded me of who I am. I cannot urge others enough to turn to Him and allow His truth to sink in. I am more stable than ever. I thought I had to somehow come up with my thicker skin.
As it turns out, Jesus is my thicker skin. He is my defense. He is my Strong Tower. And He covers me.