Category Archives: Insecurity

‘Tis So Sweet: ‘Neath the Healing Flood

ID-100463957“Oh how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!”
-‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,  Louisa M. R. Stead

“And the Lord said to tell you that THIS TIME, your MIND will NOT get in the way!!”

My friend said those words forcefully during the prayer night as she spoke about THIS MAN. How did she know?, I thought to myself. I laughed a little bit as she said it, remembering all the past hurts I had experienced with guys and how I would obsess to the point of allowing even the smallest perceived rejection to send me spiraling out of control–to reject before I could be rejected. The most recent hurts, even though they were a couple of years in the past, were still on my mind a little bit. But I was pretty much over that stuff, fully accepting of myself and ready to date. So I agreed fully–she was right, God was right. I was in a much better place, and this time, my mind was not going to get in the way.

Honestly, I can’t decide whether I am naive or ignorant. I mean well; I’m not purposely thinking of myself as better than anyone else with regards to how I handle life. I guess for some reason, I believed that when the Lord said “My mind would not get in the way,” it meant there would be no issues or struggles. But that’s not what my friend said, and even more so, that is not what He meant…because that is not how He works. He works by bringing our core issues to the forefront so that we can work them out with fear and trembling. And that does not happen often without struggles.

So the first time I began to experience even a modicum of perceived rejection from THIS MAN, I freaked out a little bit. Mind you, I used the word “perceived” because that is all it was–my perception. A friend that I had (finally) confided in reminded me astutely: “Your mind is not going to get in the way.” I took this as a word straight from the Lord and let it go. But I was not as lucky this past weekend.

I was having my 10 percent day, and in the midst of it, I was feeling again a perceived rejection (again–PERCEIVED) when my flesh pounced. Instead of walking away from the damning thoughts, I waded neck deep into them. I stayed away from church, from the people who love me when I am at my deepest place of despair. I stayed in bed all day (since I hadn’t slept the night before), and I cried the majority of the day. I plotted and planned on how to make an easy escape from the difficulties of facing myself and THIS MAN; how to reject him before I could feel that rejection. I ruminated about it the entire day, making up excuses for why I could never be close to him–my personality was too big for him, he wasn’t mature enough, we didn’t have anything in common–and verbalizing why I perceived he was choosing not to be close to me. I obsessed and spiraled out of control, remembering the hurts that had been piled upon me from past relationships.

Normally, I would’ve done something extreme during those hours–unfollowed him on social media, sent a regrettable message, made my rejected feelings known in some way. But for some reason, I didn’t take any action. Then suddenly towards the day’s end, I started repeating Isaiah 26:3 to myself:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

It was almost immediate, the wave of relief that came over me. I felt like I had been literally plunged into His healing, cleansing flood. Peace washed over me as I settled down. My anxiety faded. My heart relaxed. My mind became focused on the immovable grace, peace, and love of Jesus.

And that was it. He was simply waiting for me to relent, to return. Waiting for me to come to the end of myself. Waiting to remind me that there’s so much more work to do in me than I even can see. And waiting to tell me that no rejection, real or perceived, from THIS MAN or any man can replace the acceptance He has given me as His precious daughter. I just need to trust Him and let His love heal and cleanse me.

I realize now that I will struggle, and that my mind may get the best of me on some days. But as long as I continue to trust Him, my mind will not get in the way. Not this time.

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This Is My Story, This Is My Song: Post Recovery

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25 

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

After attending Celebrate Recovery for a year, I felt God calling me back to my former church—yes, the one I had left abruptly. I had made amends with my pastor, and he had told me, “Oakdale will always be your home.” However, I somehow believed that completing a recovery process meant that I wouldn’t face any obstacles and that I was finished with my work. So even though I returned to the church a different and better person, God was not finished His work in me. I had a lot of growing to do. In fact, I found that I was still struggling with people and with how to use my gifts. So after a brief stint back, I left again, hoping to find a place where my gifts could be used—even though my heart was not in the right place.

My search turned up dry, though, and in the midst of feeling out of community, I became involved with a man who offered me false community and intimacy. He claimed to be a Christian but was not practicing or in community with other believers. We began a relationship while he was still married. I somehow convinced myself that this was not adultery because he and his wife were separating. However, because I had stopped talking with my close Christian friends, I had no accountability. It was a brief relationship, and thankfully, God delivered me from it and opened my eyes to my sins. When the relationship ended, I repented and returned once again to the church I had left—to the community of believers who showed me the grace and love I had been searching for.

The latest years of my life have shown me a few important things:

  1. Recovery is ongoing. Even though I was free from my pornography addiction and related issues, I was still struggling with my relationships. My beliefs about relationships with men and my own worth still needed work. And I realized that my thought life was still an issue—daydreaming and control issues ran rampant. I did not leave Celebrate Recovery fully healed: I left healed of many issues, but I still need constant work to continue to grow in my walk with God.
  2. Ongoing recovery requires community. I didn’t have to stay at Celebrate Recovery, but I needed to be in community SOMEWHERE. When I stopped attending church, hanging with my Christ-like friends, and allowing myself to be held accountable, I fell into sin very easily. I went down the slippery slope so fast, I was unable to recover in time. I praise God for His grace, but I know that not having community was the biggest reason I fell into sin. Now I make community a priority in my life—so that recovery can continue!
  3. Every community is made up of sinners like me. When I left my church, it was because I didn’t believe people were communicating with God about how to use my gifts. As it turns out, I was the one not in tune with God. No matter what church you attend, no one there is perfect—including you. I had to temper my expectations about people and about God. And I had to realize that people—even and especially my Christian friends, would disappoint me and even hurt me. When I understood and accepted those things, staying in community became that much easier.

When I returned to my church this last time, I spent one year in a ministry supporting in the background. I finally submitted to God, allowing Him to develop patience in me and allowing Him to use that year to mature me in very specific spiritual and emotional areas. And when I humbled myself before Him, He lifted me up (James 4:10)—to the perfect worship leadership position for me. I currently serve there, and though it is challenging, I know that God is using this time to develop and grow me even more, so that I can face the next eight years with full confidence in Him and who I am in Him. And that is the reason I sing!

Thank you for reading my story and hearing my song! I pray that it has blessed you and encouraged you in your own walk with Christ! 

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Fourth Eight

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

My break from ministry did not last long; after about eight months, I found another job in youth ministry and moved closer to DC. I thought things were turning around…I was starting to settle down a bit. But something still was not right. I was not happy in youth ministry. Perhaps I was burnt out; perhaps youth ministry was not for me. Whatever the reason, I was searching for community and had yet to find it. I left that ministry job after a few years and moved to another church in the same county. Meanwhile, a ministry friend invited me to attend a young adult Bible study that her new pastor had started. I ended up not only attending the Bible study but leading the worship band at her church while still serving as the youth minister at another. However, like they always had, things fell apart at my youth ministry job, and I was once again searching for what to do with my life. I applied for the worship pastor position at my friend’s church (now my church) and didn’t get it; thus, I continued to struggle with what God was asking me to do. After a few weeks in Phoenix to settle my brain, I took the first job I was offered at a data company back in Maryland.

In the next year, my life exploded as I was imploding emotionally. I had a terrible fight with my pastor and left my church and worship leadership position abruptly. I decided to stop talking to my family altogether. I was really struggling to make sense of my life. I hated my job, my family, and my life. And then, I began attending a young adult ministry at a nearby church and I met him. He was an incredible man…my total opposite, perhaps, in that he was sensitive and compassionate in great contrast to my brash honesty. I was attracted to him like a moth to a flame. He was good looking and funny, and I just wanted to be around him. Our friendship was filled with pain and confusion, though, mostly because he was the first God-honoring man I had ever been attracted to and, thanks to my warped porn-and-lust-addicted mind, I had no idea how to treat him. Even though we had admitted a mutual attraction existed, I was (unbeknownst to me) completely un-dateable. I wanted so badly to have someone love me in the ways I had never been loved that I pushed and pushed…until finally, I pushed him away for good. I was broken, and for the first time in my life, I knew it. The day after our friendship ended, I attended my first Celebrate Recovery meeting.

One lesson I learned from my fourth eight is to never underestimate where the desire for true love, acceptance, and intimacy will take you. My longing had taken me to many worldly places—pornography, partying, fantasy, and deeper into myself. However, the longing was never truly filled, and in the end, the pain of staying the same—always losing relationships and jobs—became too much for me to bear. I knew where to find true acceptance and love—I had known since I was eight years old—but I had not been willing to surrender my pride to the pain of changing for the better. I had never TRULY surrendered my issues to God because of my need for control. But in the fourth eight, everything changed. I wanted to know true love and I wanted to know how to love—and the only way I could find those things was to run straight into the arms of the Author of love, who was waiting to heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.

Where has the longing for true love, acceptance, and intimacy taken you?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Third Eight

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? –Matthew 7:3

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freeditigalphotos.net

I graduated from high school one week after turning 17 and headed off to college at James Madison University. I spent my first two years at college struggling to find myself and my faith. I struggled with drinking and partying and having no relationship at all with God, at one point even telling my mother I wasn’t sure if I believed in God anymore. While I had stopped looking at pornography when I came to college, it had already taken its place in my mind, changing the way I looked at people and the expectations I had for them. I cut people out of my life if they didn’t meet my criteria for what “good people” were. I judged people, had very little grace, and carried around a great deal of shame.

When I decided to turn my life over to Jesus my junior year, I left my former partying friends and joined a campus ministry, determined to change my course. But even there, I maintained that everything with me was great. No one knew that I was still secretly struggling with my self-worth and self-image, with being transparent and honest with others, and with having true intimacy in my life. I was hiding everything about myself behind academic and musical excellence. I made great friends but felt like no one understood me or the deep shame I had about my pornography addiction and struggles with lust and fantasy. I also continued to push people away with my brash and judgmental personality, leaving a trail of hurt friends in my path as I boldly proclaimed truth without love. I could see the everyone else’s faults, but I could not see my own. Even as God called me into youth ministry once I graduated from JMU, I continued losing these battles. In addition, my relationship with my family became strained. My internal struggles eventually became external, and I was abruptly fired from a youth ministry job. I took a break from working in ministry, believing that everyone else was to blame.

There I was: with broken relationships, a struggling career, and very little to call my own. I was too broken to see it then, but looking back, I can see that the common denominator in my problems was me. Too often people will look at their lives and say that they have constantly been victimized or dealt a bad hand—and sometimes, this is true. Other times, however, we are too quick to look at outside sources as the cause for our problems while refusing to look within. Why? Because it is easier to place blame than accept it. Even the Bible acknowledges this in Matthew 7:3—I was more likely to see others’ issues than my own. And Matthew 7:5 continues, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” And to be successful in ministry and life as a prophet gift, I would need to learn this difficult but important lesson.

In response to her penchant for writing songs about her failed relationships, someone said, “Did Taylor Swift ever consider that maybe she’s the problem?” Great question! Now, can we turn that around on ourselves, in our own situations, and ask, “Have I ever considered that perhaps I am the problem?” Because it’s when we are brave enough to look in the mirror instead of the windshield that we can begin to truly tackle our own issues and begin to heal.

Where do you most often look when problems arise: the windshield or the mirror?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Second Eight

“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” Luke 8:17

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

The hurt and loss from my first eight years never showed itself too much—I think my mother would say that I was a happy, well-adjusted child. I continued to excel in school and music, became incredibly involved in my church and youth group, and contributed to my community through volunteering and other fun activities. On the surface, everything seemed to be going extremely well for me, despite the deteriorating relationship with my father; despite a sister who was beginning to show signs of instability (requiring most of my mother’s attention); despite feeling like a bold, loud “ugly duckling” that no one desired. But soon, the hurt and loss I had experienced manifested itself through a dirty little secret.

It started innocently, really. My uncle had a satellite dish installed in my grandfather’s home because we lived outside the town limits and didn’t have cable television. Little did anyone know that there were some not-so-innocent pornographic channels streaming from the dish for free—not-so-innocent porn that a very innocent 10-year-old me saw and found intriguing. Before long, I was watching it as much as I possibly could. When the satellite dish stopped streaming, I switched to magazines I had found hidden in my grandfather’s house. My brain was filled with images and thoughts that I couldn’t keep inside, so in middle school and high school, I began writing my own pornographic novels, passing them around to my friends and filling their minds with the images and filth that saturated my own. I began experimenting sexually with boys, and I also developed an active fantasy life: an escape from reality—one in which I had control and felt loved and desired. When my sister was losing control or I was feeling rejected by boys or my father or I felt completely alone, I had a “safe place” to go—deep inside my head to fantasy land. On the outside, I was at the top of my class, excelling in music and academics with plenty of friends and an active church life. On the inside, I was struggling to keep it together.

The second eight years of my life reminds me of an important lesson: we should never overestimate the resiliency of children. We often say “kids are resilient” in hopes that the traumas they experience will just roll off them like water off a duck’s back. However, children are still humans with feelings, and even more importantly, they do not always know how to express what they are feeling. And when they do not know how to express their feelings, they will act out—and acting out looks different to each kid. For me, I acted out in secret. To everyone, including my mother, I was the “good Christian kid.” I played well by myself, could spend infinite amounts of time alone, got great grades, was incredibly responsible, and was a model child for the most part. My mom had no trouble with me because I was very good at hiding my pornography addiction, fantasy life, and sexual sins. But those were just the symptoms of a deeper issue: the hurt, rejection, and loss I had experienced in the first eight years of my life. And instead of addressing those issues, I developed other problems and addictions to cope. We notice when adults do this, but we don’t always recognize when it happens with children because we assume they will “get over it” easier. I can tell you from my own personal experience that this is not the case.

The Bible says in Luke 8:17 that all things that are in secret will eventually be brought into the light. Whether it comes to light through confession or a “symptom” like addiction, the truth is simple: we cannot outrun or overlook our hurt and pain at any age.

What hurt have you been trying to overlook or outrun?

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The First Eight

“This is my story/This is my song/Praising my Savior all the day long!” Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing my life testimony with you, including the lessons I’ve learned from my past, the excitement I am experiencing in the present, and the hope I have for my future. Blessings!

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” –Psalm 66:16

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

On Valentine’s Day in 1977, my mother went to the doctor believing she had a stomach tumor. As it turned out, she was actually pregnant with her second child—me. She was in the midst of separating from my father, and thus, in June 1977, I was born into a single parent home to my mom and a sister who was three and half years old. My father remarried when I was six months old to a woman I knew and loved my entire life as my stepmother.

I grew up in a relatively tight-knit family with my mom and sister, living next door to my grandparents (and sometimes my uncle). My father and stepmother lived in the same town, about 15 minutes away, though I only saw him sporadically as I was growing up. My earliest memory of my father is of him coming over to take my sister out—and leaving me behind. The rejection and isolation I felt, even at that young age, was palpable. It was the first of many rejections at the hands of my earthly father. Despite this, in my primary years, I excelled at school and found my many gifts—especially music. I attended church constantly with my family, and when I was eight years old, I responded to an altar call at my church and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was in third grade. That same year, my maternal grandmother died of colon cancer. I had lived next door to her my entire life, as she spoiled me with homemade candies and a true grandmother’s love. This loss was devastating to me personally. Shortly after her death, to help care for my aging grandfather, we moved next door into his house with him.

My primary years were marked by changes and loss, and though it was difficult, I can look back and see a valuable lesson that marked the first eight years of my life: You are never too young to begin a relationship with Christ. Even though I was only eight, beginning my journey with God at such a young age helped established the strong foundation in my life that has continued to this day. I’m not saying I haven’t struggled or doubted. But looking back, I can see that God was always with me during the rejection, the loss, and the suffering I experienced from life. Isaiah 41:10 says, “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.” Though I could not physically see God through my eight year old eyes, now I look back and see the truth of this verse lived out in my early years. I was rejected, but not alone. I experienced loss, but He helped me—even as a third grader with no deep knowledge of Him. God upheld me through this time of significant loss and change early in my life, and He still does the same for me today.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I am thankful that my mother not only believed this verse but lived it out so that I had a strong foundation on which to stand while facing the struggles that lay ahead for me in the next eight years.

If God can strengthen, help, and uphold a naïve, rejected, eight-year-old girl, what could He do for you today? 

Authentic Responsibilities: What’s Right For Me

Authentic Responsibility #11: I am responsible to decide what is right for me and what is important to me.

decide by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Last week, I wrote about clarity in communication and a situation in which I needed to have a conversation with a guy. I noted that it was time for me to buck up and pray about the opportunity to have that conversation, which I did. What I also did, however, was talk to several different friends about the situation and what was happening, unintentionally soliciting advice from all of them about what I should do. By yesterday, I had basically come unglued. I had several sets of advice to choose from, had already had another incident with the guy, and literally was crying out of frustration and stress. As I explained my craziness to a friend, she told me that I should only do what I think is right and then listen to what God is telling me. She gave this great advice right before she began a short diatribe on what she would do if she was in my situation. Luckily, she is an incredible friend—and she realized what she was doing just as I was about to point it out!

We all have well-meaning friends who don’t like to see us suffering and struggling. However, authentic responsibility #11 points out the important truth that you are the only one who can decide what is right and what is important for you. Here are two reasons why this is true:

  • You know you best. Whether it is your career path, your relationships, or your next meal, you know yourself better than anyone else. This is why self-awareness is so important! Only you can know your motives, your feelings, and your desires. As for me, this morning, I concluded that I have feelings for my guy friend—and I’m scared of rejection, so I’ve planned to set up walls and boundaries to avoid getting hurt. But I also know that in love, I am afraid to take risks. So I know I have to open myself up, be vulnerable, and take a chance—because that is the exact thing I’m afraid to do. And though others may see that about me, I frequently hide it behind the pushy prophet girl. (I know I do that, too!) Knowing yourself is the first step to truly knowing God and others. As Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD.” First, look at yourself, then look to the Lord because…
  • God knows you better. I did not come to this morning’s conclusion about myself on a whim. I was praying, reading my Bible, and journaling when I realized what was going on within me, and it was revealed because I asked the One knows everything about me. Psalm 139 says that God “made all the delicate, inner parts of me and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That means He knows my desires, my motives, and my heart better than I ever could, because He is my Creator and my Father. Understanding that God knows every intricate detail about me encourages me to seek Him! Psalm 139:23 tells us that we can ask God to search us, try us, and know our anxious thoughts—and when we do that, we learn more about ourselves and God than we can imagine! So I urge you to not only seek self-awareness, but seek God, the One who knows you better than you know yourself. He will help you decide what is right for you and important to you. 

Knowing what is right for you and what is important to you requires knowing yourself and knowing God. Become more authentically responsible by pursuing self-awareness and God-awareness, starting today!

What are some ways you can begin to pursue increased self-awareness and increased God-awareness?

Authentic Responsibilities: No Thanks

Authentic Responsibility #10: I am responsible for deciding if and what I want to improve about me and responsible to refuse any disrespect for me about not caring to improve in a particular way.

change by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

I am unashamedly loud, and I have always had a loud laugh. And I have always faced some sort of “suggestions” from my friends—mostly my Christian friends—about how I can change different parts of my bold, in-your-face, God-given personality. In one particular instance, a pastor friend of mine heard me laughing (loudly, of course) and rebuked me in front of a group of friends by saying, “How do you expect to get a man with a laugh like that?” I was embarrassed and hurt by his comment. However, he wasn’t done—he continued to criticize my personality by asking me how I thought Christian men would feel about me being a member of the Facebook group, “Sidney Crosby is a P***y.” I told him firmly that I believed that my future Christian husband would be a hockey fan and love it—and he’d better be a member of that group as well!

My life has been full of “helpful” people suggesting improvements for me by listing the things they don’t like about me or think I should change about myself. Authentic responsibility #10 reminds me that our job is to decide whether to listen to those suggestions for improvement. Here are three things to remember about the journey to self-improvement:

  • You get to decide what. My decision to ignore my pastor friend’s advice lay firmly in the fact that my identity as a child of God had nothing to do with his specific criticisms! Those were personality issues that my friend did not like—not hurts, habits, or hang-ups that were keeping me from experiencing the joy of abundant living in Christ OR from experiencing a husband. Practice self-awareness and measure carefully the improvements suggested to you—and remember to accept encouragement and edification of yourself, not destruction (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • You get to say if (and when). Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This means there is a time and season for you to improve yourself in certain ways! I recently experienced a season of incredible patience and heart work that God had planned for me. I had to decide to succumb to the work in me during this season. We must make our own decisions about if and when to address any issues that may be holding us back. So prayerfully ask for guidance not only about what, but if and when.
  • You get to refuse the criticism. I refused to believe that any part of my personality was keeping me from the man who God had intended for me. I rebuked my friend’s words and said no to his assessment of me. Notice that I said no to the disrespect of me, not the person! We may not love everyone’s opinion of us, but we should love them no matter. After all, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are” (Anais Nin). My friend’s assessment reflected his likes and dislikes, not me. Refuse any disrespect for not changing, and do so with love.

The Bible says wise people listen to constructive criticism and correction given them (Ecclesiastes 7:5; Proverbs 15:31), but they also prayerfully consider what, if, and when to make changes in their lives. Be authentically responsible and choose wisdom!

When has someone suggested you make a change in your life? What was your response?

Authentic Responsibilities: Make No Mistake?

Authentic Responsibility #5: As a human being, I will make mistakes. I am responsible to make appropriate restitution which may include expressions of regret or sorrow, but not guilt.

mistake man by stockimages

image courtesy of stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

Before I entered Celebrate Recovery, I was a die-hard, self-proclaimed perfectionist. Immediately prior to entering CR, I worked at a small, private WAN-LAN company in accounts receivables. I applied my entire perfectionist theory to my job in this company, wanting to excel in every possible way. After working there for only five months, at the company Christmas party, I was awarded the Employee of the Year award. During the party, my boss made a speech in which he noted that during my five-month tenure at the company, I had not made one single mistake. I was elated at this; my coworkers were not impressed at the praise lavished on me. And a few months later, when I finally did make a mistake, I realized how much pressure I had been putting on myself to continue my perfection streak, and how I had alienated most of my coworkers.

Expecting perfection from yourself (or someone else) is unrealistic. Authentic responsibility rejects the idea of perfectionism and accepts that we cannot yet achieve perfection, no matter how hard we try. So here are three things to remember if you are striving for perfection:

  • You will make mistakes. Not if, but when. No one is perfect, and Romans 3:23 says that we all sin and fall short of God’s intended glory for us. So accept that fact. Stop striving for perfection, because it will constantly elude you and make you feel like a failure. Give it your best, commit yourself to excellence, but understand that we are constantly being perfected and made holy as we live this life—and we won’t achieve absolute perfection until we are united with Jesus in heaven.
  • Making mistakes means growing in humility. What keeps conflicts, arguments, and dissension going among us? Pride. We hate admitting that we are wrong. We hate making mistakes (especially so-called perfectionists!). So we refuse to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord—or anyone else. However, authentic responsibility says to the Lord and to others, “I was wrong, and I apologize and will fix it.” Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” When I was trying so hard to be perfect, I was not allowing myself to grow. When I started my next job, I made several mistakes within the first week—and allowed myself the experience of learning from them. And when we learn from our mistakes, we gain humility and wisdom.
  • Guilt is not the same as regret. Guilt says, “I am a bad person.” Regret says, “I did a bad thing.” Guilt, shame, and condemnation focus on your character and personality. Regret, remorse, and sorrow focus on the action. Because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), because we are cleansed if we ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), we do not have to feel guilty. The Holy Spirit may convict us for our mistake, but we have the freedom to reject any condemnation.

Make no mistake, and you make no improvements in yourself. Instead, accept the authentic responsibility that allows you the freedom to make mistakes. But be brave in your pursuits to correct your wrongs, offer restitution, and express regret and sorrow. Not only will you learn more about yourself, you will grow in areas that are pleasing to the Lord.

In what ways has being imperfect helped you to grow?

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Authentic Responsibilities

The other day, I was hanging with my “other” family—a close-knit family that I love dearly and is incredibly close to my heart. The mother and daughter were having an honest conversation about something when the daughter essentially said, “Mom, every time you don’t do this, you make me feel guilty. I need you to do something else so that I won’t feel guilty.” The mother said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help that what I do makes you feel guilty.” I nodded in agreement with the mother, because she was right: her daughter was placing responsibility for her feelings with someone else.

responsibility by renjith krishnan

image courtesy of renjith krishnan / freeditigalphotos.net

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned through my journey towards health is about authentic responsibilities. What are authentic responsibilities? These are the honest, real assessments that only we can make about ourselves. The term implies the real responsibilities each person takes upon themselves and the responsibilities each of us have for our own wellbeing. Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging about authentic responsibilities, which was introduced to me by Kathryn Chamberlin, a licensed social worker, while I was attending Celebrate Recovery. There are fourteen authentic responsibilities from Ms. Chamberlin that we will discuss over the next few weeks.

As we begin this incredible discussion, here are a few things to remember as you consider authentic responsibilities:

  • Swallow the shallow. At first glance, these responsibilities may read as very prideful and self-absorbed. Please read them prayerfully and remember as you read them that this is not a “me first” effort but a focus on areas in which you should choose to take personal accountability in your life. Remember—if you do not make these decisions for yourself, then you are inadvertently allowing others to make them for you. If you go to a restaurant and don’t place your order, you either will not get served or you may get something that you don’t want! Choosing what you want does not make you conceited; it gives you necessary boundaries. So swallow the idea that authentic responsibilities are shallow and prideful, and embrace personal responsibility.
  • Struggle sincerely. It is okay to struggle in these areas. I am not speaking as if I have mastered the art of each of these authentic responsibilities—in fact, I still struggle with many of them! There are plenty of days when I realize that I did not speak out my true feelings and caused others to guess, or I allowed someone else’s judgment of me to annoy me instead of refusing it. As with all growth, learning to take authentic responsibility is a process and a journey. Give yourself the grace to struggle with the ideas and actions that come along with accepting authentic responsibilities in your life.
  • Start somewhere. While you are struggling sincerely, seeing fourteen areas of authentic responsibility may be overwhelming. In addition, realizing the areas that you need to work on may be depressing! I remember feeling weighed down by the volume of areas and my need to work. But then I remembered to cut myself some slack, and I asked the Lord to show me where to begin. He did. He will do the same for you, if only you will ask. Take Him along on your journey and He will make sure that you continue the work He has started in you.

Are you ready to take on more authentic responsibilities for yourself? Let the journey begin!

What are your ideas about authentic responsibilities that each person should have? Share in the comments below or use my Contact Me page to send your ideas and/or schedule a 30-minute Identity Intensive!