Last week, after posting the blog God’s Not Mad at Me, I received an email from a Conqueror. The email was deeply moving and courageously honest. So, with permission, I share with you the email I received and my response, in hopes it helps you!
Every time I read your post it hits home so hard. I cry and reflect at what you say and how our lives have lead a parallel journey. My pain cuts deep for shame and guilt live in the forefront of every waking day. Somedays I cry and cry about the pain and disgust this subject brings me. Unlike you, I have never admitted all parts of my past. Just small pieces here and there. Right or wrong for feeling shame and guilt—it’s slowly killing me and my soul.
I have spent the last year and a half in court with my ex of ten years fighting over our seven-year-old son. He has decided I am not a fit mother due to the fact I decided on a voluntary basis to receive help for my depression and anxiety. Well that has blown up in my face and they are using it against me to take my son. I can’t survive this pain of losing him. I cry every day. I am a good mother and I take care of my children. I love them and would give them anything they need. I need an attorney and at this time I am unable to afford representation. I can’t lose my child. I’m not sure how I would go on. The pain and grief is deep.
This is God’s punishment for my assorted past…
Signed, A Lost Soul.”
God is not mad at you—He is not punishing you for an assorted past. We all have a past. Your past does not equal your future! It’s time for you to drop the baggage that you have been carrying, or it will emotionally bankrupt you.
There’s a story in the Bible that I love—the story of Jericho. I remember as a child singing about God’s people marching around the walls, and the walls tumbling down. I also remember the prostitute that lived in Jericho named, Rahab. The short version of the story is that two men went into Jericho to spy out the land. The king of Jericho hears that spies have entered into the city and sends soldiers out to capture them. In order to prevent the spies from being killed, Rahab hides them on the roof of her house. This woman, a prostitute, had godly foresight about Jericho being destroyed, and asked the spies for a favor. She asked them to return the kindness that she showed them by saving her and her family before destroying Jericho.
I love this story, because Rahab could have easily allowed the shame of being a prostitute keep her from making such a request. She could have easily believed that “she wasn’t worthy to be rescued,” and never made the request to be saved. However, had she not made the request, she would have died along with everyone else in Jericho.
You see, shame condemns us. It tells us that we don’t deserve to be brought out of our mess. We don’t deserve to walk in newness of life. We don’t deserve to be happy. We don’t deserve good things to happen to us. It beats us down, keeps its foot on our neck, demeans us, and tells us we’re unworthy and undeserving to make such requests.
But Rahab, didn’t allow her assorted past or her assorted present cause her to perish.
As I said previously in God’s Not Mad at Me, “Guilt is when you’ve done something wrong, but shame is when you are something wrong. Shame is life-dominating and stubborn. Once it enters your heart and mind, it is a squatter that refuses to leave.”
Shame is invasive, pervasive, and personal.
Shame will condemn the place in which it squats. A condemned house will have an orange notice on the door to let everyone know that “It’s condemned.” Today, I want to help take that "sign" off the door of your heart and reverse the effects that shame's had on you. It’s time to flip the story that Shame's been telling you. Yes, I said, flip. Just like flipping a house--you are the foreman of this job—what you say—goes, but it’s going to take a conscious effort to do this and to create a new habit for yourself.
The power is in the application, so keep reading. Here are three things I’ve done in my life to help me reverse the effects of shame.
#1: YOU MUST CHANGE HOW YOU THINK
Someone once said, "I've discovered how important it is to turn up the volume on the good words in our heads."
As a Conqueror, you are only as strong as your weakest think, therefore, it's important to understand that what you think about grows. You have to change the story that you’ve been telling yourself-- and that means changing your internal dialogue. You do this by consciously replacing “the negative” with “the positive” one thought at a time. Not to mention, monitoring how you think is scriptural—yes, the scripture literally instructs us on how we should think.
Here let me show you.
Philippians 4:8-9, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, and whatsoever things are of good report to think on these things.”
Proverbs 23:7, “For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”
Acts 26:2, “I think myself happy.”
You are the only person in your head, therefore, you are the only one who can control your thoughts. Keep in mind, it takes 30 days to create a new habit, so “thinking positive” over time will change your life for the good.
There’s only a one letter difference between the word “think” and the word “thank.” Charles Fillmore said, "We increase whatever we praise. The whole creation responds to praise, and is glad," which reminds me of something Adair Lara said, "It could be that we ourselves are the principal beneficiaries of our praise."
#2: YOU MUST CHANGE HOW YOU TALK
Would you dump a big bag of trash all over your living room? No. I didn't think so. Yet, we do this all the time. The space between our two ears is called our "living space." We dump negative and condescending thoughts and words on ourselves, about ourselves, all day long, then wonder why our attitude about ourselves stinks. Just as what you think about grows; what you talk about grows. Words have power! Not a little power—A LOT OF POWER! Ask Eve, who allowed a snake to talk her into eating the forbidden fruit, or David, who cut off Goliath's head to ensure that the voice of condemnation and negativity couldn't return to taunt Israel.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. "Our words always reveal whats going on inside" - Hal Urban.
If words inflict long term pain on others, then what do you think they do when you unleash calloused and careless words on yourself?
What would happen if for one week you only celebrated life? Only made positive declarations about yourself and about your situation? One week of no worrying, no negative speaking, no put downs, complaints, and no beating yourself up. One week of monitoring your words and your thoughts. One week of repeatedly speaking things like: “God’s got this," "Everything will work out for the good," "My past doesn’t equal my future," "I can do all things through Christ," "I am not a failure," "God knows my needs," "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills," or "God is my ever present help in the time of trouble.”
In fact, what would happen if you wrote these declarations on index cards and put them on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, bedroom dresser, car visor, and repeated these declarations over and over throughout the day for a month?
Here is what the scripture says about the power of words:
Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” How awesome is that? The world was framed by words! How much more do we frame our own world by what we speak on a daily basis?
Proverbs 15:4, "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life."
Romans 4:17, “…Calleth those things that be not as though they were.” Another words, God called things into existence that didn’t exist prior to Him speaking it into existence. We have the power to create by what we speak. We have the power to “call those things that be not as though they were.” Start speaking and declaring blessings over your current situation.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character."
If you don’t think words matter, take a look at the children of Israel. Their trek through the wilderness should have only taken ten days, but their mumbling and grumbling caused them to wander for forty-years. Where has your mumbling and negative speech taken you?
#3: WORRY--IT'S NOT YOUR BAG!
Every time you start to worry remember this analogy:
"When you go to the airport, you don’t take someone else's bag off the conveyor belt, right? Right! Why? Because it’s not your bag. You go to the conveyor belt and you pick up your bag. So the next time you pick up worry, drop it and say, 'WORRY—It’s not my bag!'"
Anxiety disorder is nothing new. In fact, the first diagnosis dates back to the Bible. In Luke 10, Martha is upset with Mary. Martha is running around like a chicken with her head cut off, while Mary is hanging out with Jesus and not helping her prepare the house. Jesus diagnoses Martha as being anxious and worried about many things. He goes on to tell Martha that “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The King James Version Bible uses an interesting word choice, it says that Mary “chose” not to worry, while Martha “chose” to worry.
Here are three powerful verses to replace worry with:
John 14:4, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your cares upon him; for he careth for you.”
Luke 12:27-28, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothed the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will he clothe you? You men of little faith!”
Here are some of my favorite sayings on worry:
Worry divides the mind.
Worry is the darkroom in which fears develop.
Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—it’s like carrying two loads at once.
Try not to worry, as it’s sticky and hard to scrub off.
85% of what we worry about never happens
Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. It will give you something to do but won’t get you anywhere.
Worry is like walking around with an umbrella up waiting for it to rain.
Change the things you can change, and stop worrying about the things you can’t change.
In a final response to your email, remember that abundant life starts now. These three steps may not eliminate anxiety and shame completely, but if applied they will help to reduce the effects they are having on you, and help you to possess a better quality of life. I’m believing God with you. Don’t sweat your ex-husband’s high powered attorney. You have an Advocate named Jesus—and trust me, Lawyer’s don’t get more High Powered than Him! Trust in Him. Speak faith. Stop worrying!
As I end, I leave you with 21 of my all-time favorite verses to mediate on:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made – Psalm 139:14
How precious are thy thoughts toward me, O God –Psalm 139:17 (another words, you are always on His mind)
Wither shall I go from thy spirit? Or wither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heave, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me –Psalm 139:7-10 (I love this these ones. They helped me through the darkest times of my life. God is everywhere present. There is no where you are that God is not—He is with you!)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen – Hebrews 11:1
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) – Hebrews 10:23
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out – Romans 11:33
Delight yourself in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart – Psalm 37:4
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you – Matthew 7:7
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose – Romans 8:28
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us – Romans 8:37
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved – Romans 10:13
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 5:10
Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light – Matthew 11:28-30
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint – Isaiah 40:31
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him – Proverbs 30:5
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding – Proverbs 3:5
We walk by faith and not by sight – 2 Corinthians 5:7
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light – Ephesians 5:8
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus – Philippians 2:5
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:7
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:19
I Am M.O.R.E., and so are you!