When We Sink Beneath the Waves of Lies About Who We Truly Are

Do you feel ugly, insecure, and worthless?

It’s so easy to find our identity in the hurting words and painful actions of others toward us, isn’t it? Words and actions that steal our confidence and security in who we truly are. That make us feel we are unwanted, unlovable, and unusable.

Demeaning words, abusive actions, and the lack of loving attention we swallow as a child may become our own assumptions that we guide our lives according to. Assumptions that lie to us about the reality of who we really are. Assumptions that make us more vulnerable to further abuse as we grow older.

When we have been abused in some way, it’s so difficult to change our thought pattern, isn’t it? I struggled with this for many years. Still do sometimes. As I look back, I often picture myself like Peter who was invited to walk to Jesus on the water. How thrilling, right? But as he walked, he opened his ears to all the noise of the storm and his eyes to the tumultuous waves around him ready to swallow him up. He took his focus off of Jesus. And he sank.

Satan knows how vulnerable we are and he tries his hardest to distract us from Jesus and the truth of His love and our value in Him. He whips up the noise and tumult of the lies we assumed about ourselves. In our weakness, we often succumb to it and sink beneath the waves, flailing against the strong currents of worthlessness that suck us down, down, down…

Over the years I have often taken my eyes off of Jesus and closed my ears to His whispers of love. I often sank back into the lies and shame, those assumptions I made from past demeaning words and abuse. I didn’t think I would ever come up for air, but Jesus didn’t let me drown in them. He lovingly reached down and lifted me up yet again. He lovingly held my face in His nail-pierced hands and said, “My precious child, keep your eyes fixed on Me.”

Jesus, in His unfailing love and endless compassion, reached down, took Peter’s hand, and pulled him up in spite of Peter’s doubts and fears. And Jesus will do the same for us every time we sink. He never tires of lifting us up again.

God is so ready and willing to restore what others shattered in us and help us to see ourselves through His eyes. What HE says about us and what HE has done for us is what matters, and He can give us the grace to again and again fix our eyes on Him. He is not going to condemn us or stop loving us when we falter. He empathizes deeply with our pain and struggles.

“From the ends of the earth I call to You,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:2 NIV

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me;
My God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge;
My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold.”

Psalm18:2 AMP

“The eternal God is your refuge,
and His everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
He cries out, ‘Destroy them!’”

Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT

Our Inner Child: Connecting and Recovering Those Pockets of Our Real Selves

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“We can’t go back the way we came.
Let’s travel ahead with each other –
to awaken our hearts to rest in whitespace,
to recover those pockets of our real selves.”

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest
by Bonnie Gray

findingspiritualwhitespace_book-194x300I read these words and I can’t help but cry, “But how do I do that? How do I recover those pockets of my real self? That little girl who God created me to be? How do I recover those lost, stolen pockets of me as a person to be loved, respected, valued?”

To recover the pockets of my real self, I need to connect with that hurting child in me. If I don’t believe what I have lost, I will never find it back. I’m trying to connect, but I feel like I’m wandering in a maze of fog, disorientation, and numbness. I don’t know how to proceed, and yet I can’t go back to ignoring her either. I can’t keep trying to forget her pain.

I look back and see that little girl always striving to be enough in the eyes of her dad. Always worried about making everyone else happy, but feeling she doesn’t deserve to be happy herself. That little girl trying to be strong for her sister, trying to cheer up her brother, trying to get her dad to talk when he was mad and wouldn’t talk to her mom for days. Desperately trying to help her mom stop crying and be happier, only to end up feeling abandoned when her mom still checked out of her life either by withdrawing into her pain or going again to the hospital.

I look closer and watch the flits of sadness on her face. I catch her sitting on the steps with her head nestled in her arms across her knees. The tears flooding… A dog noses his way under her arms and licks the tears from her face. Then she buries her head into his fur and clings to his comfort.

This little girl hurts so bad, but she keeps it inside. She feels so lost and alone. Sometimes she wishes she had never been born. She tries to be so strong, but inside she is so afraid of her dad and does what she can to avoid being alone with him. And many times his words cut her to the core of her being.

As I take a step to go deeper into that little girl’s heart, I am sucked down into a quagmire of shame. Darkness and confusion engulf me. You are worthless. Nothing. Zero. Rejected. You will never be good enough. You will never amount to much. You are unlovable, incapable, and inadequate. You make life more miserable for anyone around you. What’s wrong with you anyway?

“As I think back on my childhood,
the word shame serves as an umbrella.
It is the sense of being completely insufficient as a person,
the nagging feeling that for some reason
you’re defective and unworthy.”

(All Is Grace by Brennan Manning)

Often that hurting child cries for help. She is still so alone, so empty, so inadequate. But I ignore her. I say, “I don’t believe you had it that bad. Suck it up and move on. Quit complaining. Others had it worse than you.”

I wholeheartedly believe what my dad did do to someone else and I can feel deep hurt and anger for them. But when it comes to this hurting little girl, I minimize or disassociate from her pain as if she is not a part of me. I have shared snippets of her sadness at times, but then my heart disassociates and closes her in again. Keep thinking happy. There is no room for sadness. Others had it worse than you. Be grateful for what you did have.

It pains me to talk bad about anyone. I always tell myself that if I look in myself, I see enough. I have no right to judge someone else’s heart. And it’s so hard to talk against my dad, because I loved him and he was the only dad I had. I’d try to forget how he hurt me and focus on the good things. Then later in life, when I could see the grace of God work a change in him, I felt even more guilty to bring it up. Why should I talk about it if God forgave him? And I started seeing his inner hurting child, so again I kept minimizing the pain in my own inner child. And that isn’t fair to her. I need to acknowledge her pain. If I don’t believe the truth of her pain, how will I ever connect with her?

I can’t connect with her and bring her to a place of healing if I don’t believe her. If I face the truth, I know her identity became who her dad said she was. I have not wanted to admit this to myself, but the truth is my dad laid the groundwork of shame that made me more vulnerable to further abuse at the hands of others. Minimizing this truth is lying and continuing to beat down that hurting little girl inside of me. I just hope what I have shared is grace-filled, makes you feel less alone, and gives you courage to connect with and bring healing to that hurting child within you.

When Bonnie gave us this week’s Spiritual Whitespace challenge, I didn’t think I could do it. I still teeter between shame sucking me under and no feelings at all when I go deeper into the pain of my inner child. But after writing the above, I’m going to attempt a short note, hopefully the beginning of many more as I learn to connect with her and nurture her as God wants me to.

Write a letter to your younger self.
What would you say to her, knowing what you know today?

“My dear child, I’m so sorry I have ignored your pain. I have abandoned anything good in you. It’s no wonder you feel so empty and alone. My heart aches and is heavily burdened for the pain of other children, but I have not acknowledged yours. I’m so sorry. I want you in my life. I want to acknowledge you as a part of me. I don’t want to keep stuffing you deeper into the quagmire of shame. I don’t want to keep avoiding its power to keep hurting you. I want to nurture you more. You feel so unlovable, so incapable, so inadequate. I want to take you with me into the open heart of Jesus. Jesus who travels this journey of pain with us. He understands and longs to recover those lost and stolen pockets of our real selves. Let’s open our heart and invite Him in. To connect us. To make us one. To penetrate those deep hidden crevices of pain and heal us. He takes little girls into the center of His heart and longs to bless them. He doesn’t want me to keep hiding you. Even He chose to allow the world to see His wounds after He arose again. He doesn’t want me to be ashamed of your brokenness. Come. Let’s enter into His safe and healing sanctuary together.”

“His (Jesus’) wounds didn’t disappear with His resurrected body.
Jesus chose to walk out into the world
with His scars from the past – visible.”

– Bonnie Gray

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How about you? Can you connect with your inner child?
Or do you disassociate from him/her? Maybe because it hurts too much?
If you could write him/her a letter, what would you say?

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Joining Up With:

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

A Soft Gentle Voice

Failure Doesn’t Make Us Less Cherished By God

alwayscherished

Do you ever feel like a failure? Like no matter how hard you try, you’re always insufficient or falling short? Like you’re a disappointment to everyone, especially to God?

When I was a child, my dad said to me, “You never were much of a daughter to me.” Though later in life he did say that wasn’t what he meant and I forgave him, the words still engraved themselves in my heart. I didn’t realize it at first, but I applied it to every role I have ever played in life – wife, mom, grandma, sister, friend, teacher, writer, etc.

When I don’t meet the expectations of others, including myself, I think I have failed. When what I say or do doesn’t make someone feel better, I think have failed. When I start a project and don’t finish it, I think I have failed.

But what I often forget is that those “I’m a failure” thoughts are lies. Even when I do fail at something, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure as a person. It just means I’m learning an important lesson.

Remember that failure is an event, not a person. ~ Zig Ziglar

Most importantly, Jesus’ love is unconditional. It doesn’t depend on what we do or don’t do right or perfectly. It depends on what He has done for us!

“For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14 AMP)

A Child's Trust

“Holy God, I am Your child – loved, cherished, sought after, justified by Your own sacrifice. I want to live my life as a person adopted and loved by God. Life gets messy, though, and sometimes I don’t do that. Forgive me for trusting other people more than You to define myself. Help me to hear You even when life is very loud. Help me to listen and live according to Your truth. Amen.”      (Prayer from The Search for Significance Devotional Journal: A 60-day Journey to Discovering Your True Worth)

Soul Rest Sunday