Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's All About Me and I Just Can't Help Myself!

Getting back on track after rearranging the order of a  couple of the lies from Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss brings us to Lies # 8 & 9.

Lie #8 :  I Need To Learn To Love Myself

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've heard this or read this in a culture that is obsessed with feeling better about themselves.  It's the world's most popular answer to  low self-esteem and one that Satan uses to trap us.....and we grasp it ~ hook, line and sinker.

One of the examples given by the author is a catalog that offers a "Magical Nightshirt" with this message printed backwards, so that the owner can read it to herself by looking in the mirror:
"I am a precious, wondrous, special, unique, giving, rare, valuable, whole, sacred, total, complete, entitled, worthy, and deserving person."
It is "meant to remind you just how precious and unique you are."

The Truth is that we are created in the image of God and He loves us ~ we ARE precious to Him.  As is the case with most lies, lie #8 isn't the polar opposite of the Truth, but a distortion of the Truth.

When I read that quote, it honestly gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Do you notice that most of those qualities listed are qualities of our Creator ~ and and self-worship is taking the Glory that belongs to Him and placing it on ourselves......the ones that He gave His life to save because of our sinfulness.  I'm not saying that we are not all precious in His sight, that we are not special or created uniquely ~ because we are.  I'm saying, "Praise be to GOD, not ourselves".

The problem is not that we don't love ourselves.  The problem is that we DO......and very much so.  Jesus tells us to "Love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and in Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands to "love their wives as they love their own bodies".  We naturally and automatically put ourselves first.  The author gives this example:
"If I get a toothache, I immediately look for a way to identify the problem and get rid of it.  If I didn't 'love myself', I would ignore the pain.  But when someone else has a toothache, it is easy to be indifferent to his need - that's his problem.  We naturally love ourselves; we do not naturally love others."
The world's prescription of self-love doesn't lead to relief from the bondage of low self-esteem.  Focus and worship of self leads to even more bondage.  We are living life continually focused on ourselves, constantly conscious of how people, things and circumstances are affecting us, deeply sensitive to our feelings, we find ourselves easily hurt and completely trapped in the misery of "low self-esteem".

I hope I'm not coming across as holier-than-thou.........because I've been there.  Really, I have ~ and didn't realize what I was doing to myself.  My self-absorption could have caused me to be offended  and defensive of this Truth, but thankfully many lies that have been exposed to me were exposed when my heart was open and ready to see things for what they were. 

The cure for low self-esteem isn't  loving and adoring yourself.  It is in receiving God's incredible love for us and to accept His design and purpose for our lives.  It is in doing what Jesus has called us to do.....loving our neighbors as ourselves.  He says that in losing our lives e find our lives.  Give others the same attention and care we naturally give ourselves.  In learning to deny ourselves, we can then do what does not come truly love God and others.  Once you have truly received and accepted His love, you will find you don't have to compare yourself to others.....instead of focusing on "self", you will become channels of His love to those who desperately need it. 

That's what we're here for.  We are His hands and feet.....we are to love and serve others as His vessels.  When we embrace that Truth, we discover that letting go of self and letting Him be the one to look out for us is a pretty good deal. (Disclaimer: this is not to be taken to mean that we should allow ourselves to be abused and mistreated....but that every little thing in life is not all about us and there is a much bigger picture if you take the time to look around and see it.)

Do I still sometimes find myself trudging through the consequences of listening to this lie? Yes.  But now I know the Truth ~  it really is more blessed to give than to receive......and more joyful life exists when my focus is not on me.  The good news about opening your heart to the Truth and accepting it, is that it allows the Holy Spirit to call you on it when you stumble and fall into it again.  He is good and faithful to pick you up, pull you out, dust you off, and get you on your way again. : )

Lie # 9:  I Can't Help The Way I Am..... yet another lie that can put us in lifelong bondage.  Often when we see things about ourselves that we don't like or wish were different, we use excuse after excuse to avoid accepting personal responsibility for our own behavior, attitudes and choices.

A good list of examples is given in the book.  Every single one excuse listed is one I've heard someone say at one time another, whether it be a family member, friend or acquaintance.  Just so you know that I'm not pointing fingers,  I'll italicize the ones I most often find myself thinking (or even saying)....
  • "Our house is so tiny, everything gets on my nerves"
  • "My job is so stressful, I can't help being irritable with my kids when I get home."  (totally applicable for those who also work from home)
  • "It's that time of month."
  • "My hormones are going crazy."
  • "I'm so exhausted, I just can't function."
  • "My family never dealt with problems; we just stuffed everything inside and pretended like nothing was wrong.  To this day, I can't really confront issues."
  • "My parents never affirmed me, and I've  never been able to feel loved."
  • "My mother and her mother were both manic-depressive.....I guess it just runs in my family."
  • "My mother was never a real mother to me - I've never had a model to show me how to raise my kids."
  • "I had an abusive childhood; I've never been able to trust people."
  • My ex-husband constantly put me down; he destroyed my self- esteem."
I only italicized the ones that I most often still think, but that doesn't mean that there aren't others on the list that I have said in the past.....or some that are versions of circumstances I have found myself in.

I mentioned in my first post on this book that I had read some criticisms of it, a few of which were pertaining to lies #8 & 9.  Ladies were offended, thinking that the author was making light of some of these very serious situations and I just don't take it that way.  Throughout the book, she points out that Satan is clever in using a fair amount of truth and twisting it to make his lies so appealing.

Some of these situations (and many more not listed that could have been) would definitely impact and shape who we are.  However, we are not simply victims of our circumstances, and these statements are used by the Enemy to make us just that ~ enslaving us to the bondage of being helpless, only able to react to wounds inflicted on us by others with no power to overcome. 

My house is small and I am a bit claustrophobic - does that give me an excuse to let everything get on my nerves?  I've found that a small house is easier to clean, and when jobs are not guaranteed ~ a smaller house payment is a blessing.  We have a roof over our heads when many don't.  How dare I be so ungrateful.  I've found that learning to see the blessings every day nips a complaining, easily agitated demeanor in the bud.

I often find it stressful trying to juggle so many things and working from home can be very stressful at times.  That gives me no right to take my stress out on my children (or husband).

If I'm so exhausted that I just can't function, perhaps I need to rethink my priorities, or train my children better ~ or let them help out around the house more and not be so inclined to do everything myself.  Relinquishing perfectionism is very freeing. : )

For the more difficult, deeply rooted issues that we use as our excuses:  We are not destined to be controlled by whoever or whatever has impacted our lives.  Difficult circumstance, scars and wounds from the past obviously affect us and shape us.  I do think when seeking to overcome bondage it is helpful to look back and find the roots of  behaviors that we desire to destroy.  There can be healing in discovering why we do the things we do.  However, at some point, we all have to realize that we have a choice.  Dig up those roots, deal with them......and move on.
 "We can be changed by the power of God's Spirit.  Once we know and embrace the Truth, we can break free from the chains of our past, our circumstances, and even deeply ingrained habit patterns." ~ Nancy deMoss
I recently won a give-away and received a book entitled "Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs by Warren Baldwin at Family Fountain.  I haven't had time to read the entire book yet, but it flipping through it I found an excerpt that applies to this very lie.  I've written before that I believe there is nothing like the Word of God when combating Satan's lies, and the Bible tells us "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."~ Proverbs 9:17
"We can't control what other people have dumped into our lives, but we can give up a victim mentality and cease blaming others.  We can 'guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life'.  We can take responsibility for our actions and seek the healing that Christ offers.  We can experience that healing, with God's presence in our hearts." ~ Warren Baldwin
It really is that simple.  It's all about a choice.  One choice leads to forgiveness, healing and victory while the other leads to a lifetime of bondage.

Which one do you choose?

My weekly verses for Mustard Seed Planting:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  ~ Phillipians 2:3-11


Kelli said...

Great photo and great message! We do sometimes get caught up in serving the "kingdom of me" instead of the "Kingdom of God!" Happy WFW!

Jennifer said...

I am right there on the perfectionism thing with you. I need to learn to delegate---and to train my children to help. Great post, and I still think it sounds like a great book!


Musings By Michele said...

Great post. Thanks for the nudge on some things that God has been laying on my heart. I love your American Girl Clothes. You are quite talented.
Hope you can stop by & visit my blog sometime. Going to check your FB page, too.

SchmoobleeSaver said...

I'm a new GFC follower. I came across your blog on the Wednesday Blog Hop.

I would love if you followed me back! Check out my savings blog!

Thanks, look forward to your posts.

♥ Gabrielle

Rebecca said...

LOVE this post. I really have to get a copy of this book....I struggle with so many things you have shared with us through your journey with it! I can't wait to read more of your journey through Warren's truly is a 'gem'!! Thank you for joining us today and sharing your means so much to so many in the world...with aching hearts to remember that we are not alone and it gives us more Fellowship, as we walk this journey! Blessings and let Jennifer/I know if we can pray for anything specific!

TJ of said...

Hey you liked my page on FB so I decided to check your website. I love that you're a Christian! I am also! And I am glad to have found a fellow Christian blogger! I read part of this post (I got to get going grocery shopping shortly, so I'll have to finish later). The part about the "I can't help how I am" idea reminds me of a deep conversation I had at college (I went to Pensacola Christian College in Florida). A guy-friend of mine was being rather mean to myself and several of our friends (like verbally) and I confronted him about it. He said he couldn't help it, that his parents were abusive so he obviously was too. I too grew up in an abusive home--my mom beat me, took knives to me, pulled my hair, called me nasty things and put me down...the list goes on. But I explained to him that I was not a product of this environment; I was a born-again Christian and what my parents did to me had absolutely nothing to do with who I am or how I behave. I explained that to him and he more or less got the picture and worked harder on being kind to others. Now, 6 years later, I have a son of my own. Do I intend to beat him and call him nasty things? Absolutely not! If anything the experience I underwent with all the heartache and sorrow has motivated to be the exact opposite. I will be a caring, loving, kind, considerate mother. Not that he won't ever get punished, but I definitely will not destroy him emotionally or physically. Sorry bout the novel! Basically just saying it's very good and I agree completely. Thanks and God bless!

Jill said...

TJ, thank you for sharing....and don't apologize for the "novel"! What a testimony you have of God's Grace and Healing in your life! Feel free to write another novel anytime you like! :)

Warren Baldwin said...

Very good post. There are so many lies we tell ourselves! And this is so true: "The problem is not that we don't love ourselves. The problem is that we DO......and very much so." We can't get out of our own way to let God rule.

And thank you for reading and mentioning Roaring Lions. I hope you are enjoying the book.