As a homeschooling parent and a ministry leader I invest a lot of time, effort and most of all heart into everything that I do. I have big dreams and I expect to see them come to fruition. Last week however confirmed for me that with big dreams also come big disappointments. Now I know that can sound a little pessimistic but it’s an honest statement that reminds me that I shouldn’t be surprised when things don’t go according to my plans. Instead I should use those experiences to deepen my faith and push harder towards those dreams. The biggest threat to my dreams aren’t the circumstances that are out of my control but the state of dismay that can overcome my heart as a result of them.
I’ve always been extremely hard on myself. My two biggest struggles in life have been with feelings of low self-worth and guilt. I remember carrying guilt about something I had done at about 10 years old well into my early 20’s. I’ve never had a problem forgiving others, just myself. Growing up fatherless and in a stressful home environment definitely attributed to my feelings of low self-worth even though I knew I was a capable, smart young woman.
In my early teens I discovered that I could get attention and feel valuable because of my looks. I learned that I could manipulate people in order to get the validation I so desperately desired if I was just willing to give up little bits of who I was and the principals I believed in along the way. Sadly, it was a trade-off I was willing to make. When I moved to Michigan at age 16 and came to really know Christ I beat myself up for about 3 more years because of all the drama and hurt I had caused in my circle of friends. During that time though, I prayed constantly for forgiveness, deliverance from my guilt and for God to heal the hurts I had caused in others. And in time I felt freedom from that guilt.
Fast forward to 2012. Six years into marriage. Two years into motherhood. I was not the wife I wanted to be. I was not the mother I thought I would be. My self-worth had plummeted to an all time low. I would offer myself no grace, only guilt and condemnation. A journal entry from August 16th read,
“My heart is heavy and burdened…I know there is truth in your word and I find it daily but it is not made real in my life. Guilt enslaves me and shame covers me. Thoughts of death tempt me. A heaviness makes it hard for me to breath. I’m sinking into a pit of my own despair. I remember the trials and triumphs of my past. The sufferings and difficulties you brought me out of and they seem far and small. But now my soul is in the balance, it cries out. Free me from these chains. Give me the strength to overcome…I don’t even feel you here now. I know you hear me and see me but are you here with me?…I feel like a failure…Rescue me!”
After this, I knew I couldn’t can take it on my own anymore and as difficult as it was I confided in my husband the struggles I was facing. Now let me explain, it was not difficult to tell him because I was afraid of how he might react. It was difficult to tell him because I felt guilty about being such a messed up wife. In my mind he deserved better than to have to try to “fix” my brokenness. I told him that at the slightest failure I would be flooded with voices in my head that told me that I would never change, that I would never accomplish anything and that the world was better off without me in it. And that I was sorry that he had such a damaged women for a wife.
And you know what he did? He ministered to me. He reminded me of my worth – to him, to my daughter, to God – he reassured me that I was loved, he reminded me that I was capable and valuable and that I would accomplish the things that set out to and that God had a great purpose for me. He ministered to me in a way that only a husband with a heart after God’s own heart can do.
Now, with my spirits lifted I had to figure out a way to silence the voices in my head. Being the visual person that I am I needed a way that I could be constantly reminded of who I was. So I grabbed a roll of wrapping paper, rolled out a large portion onto my bedroom wall with the blank side facing out and with a black sharpie I started writing. Writing the opposite of what those voices were saying.
- My existence is not a waste.
- I love my husband and my life.
- I am a good mother.
- I am special.
- I am powerful
- I have a healthy loving relationship with my daughter.
- I control my emotions, my emotions do not control me.
- I have a Father in heaven who loves me.
- My husband is blessed.
- My dreams will come true.
- My desire is for my husband alone.
- I am a blessing to others.
- I am full of ideas and potential and I can follow through to the end.
- I am a success.
- I can overcome.
And on and on.
Everyday for I don’t know how long I would read over every statement. Some times I would lay in bed and stare at one statement in particular until I felt the truth of it penetrate my heart. Sometimes I would ask my husband to guess which one I was looking at or thinking about that day. Sometimes I would ask him to speak one of them over me. Then I began to add declarations from the word to it and words that had been spoken to me by men and women of God over the years to confirm in me even more who I really was. Full of grace — Free of guilt.
I can’t tell you how long that poster stood on my wall – over a year at least – but in that time I learned that – for me – the most powerful tool I had against the enemy was what I declared about myself. Because he couldn’t make me believe something about myself that I knew was false. But God could make something true of me that previously was not, if I declared it to be so.
That’s when I decided to begin writing about the power of God’s word to truly change lives. You see the enemy spoke lies to me from early on in my life and although I knew the truth about myself it wasn’t until I began to declare in my heart and with my mouth the truth of who I was in Christ, that I found the power to silence him. And that’s what I want to share with others. That there is always a word of God that if declared will completely negate the word of the enemy and give victory to the one who believes it.
Today I sit at my desk surrounded love letters from my husband and by verses that I have written on sticky notes and scraps of paper that I look at frequently, meditate on and declare over not only myself but my family, my friends and other believers. Because I know that they are not just nicely written words of encouragement. They are life. They are truth. They are power.
And I want to help others to know that too.
And that’s why I write.
“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30”
Yesterday, as I was running errands, I unexpectedly found myself under attack. I didn’t know it when I left the house that morning but my enemy was laying in wait for me along my path. Being caught off guard I allowed him to get in a few heavy hits but then my training kicked in and with one move I knocked him out. But not without learning a valuable lesson in the process.
You see in the past I have struggled with self worth and confidence but over the last year or so the Lord has been building me up. Showing me who I am in him, who he has created me to be and the strength that I can find in him through his word, his Son and his Holy Spirit. So when I found myself being tested in this area my flesh thought it knew all the answers. It cried out, “Validate me, Give me worth, Satisfy me!” Although it’s voice was weak, hearing it filled me with fear and anxiety and I thought, this is not right, this is not the correct answer. That’s when I hear another voice, louder than the first saying, “There is nothing that this world can offer that is better than what I already have. I am priceless gem in the hands of my Father. His word gives me satisfaction and joy and through it I have many blessings.” It was the voice of my spirit echoing the voice of my Father.
After hearing the truth of who I am I was encouraged and reminded that there was a reason this sudden attack came to me. While driving in my car I began to speak out loud to myself and to the spirits in the air, “I am a threat to the kingdom of darkness. I am a threat to the kingdom of darkness. I am a great threat to the kingdom of darkness. I am a GREAT threat to the kingdom of darkness.” And that’s where I really found my confidence because I knew that the attack itself was not important, what was important was the reason for the attack which was to debilitate me because I am a great threat to the kingdom of darkness. God is preparing me – training me – to be a valiant warrior for His kingdom. To bring hope and deliverance to those who are captive through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
So what started as a attack on my weaknesses ended as a display of His strength. And I’m ok with that because at the end of the day I am purified and He is glorified.