Healing in the Hands of the God Who Sees

woman standing in the darkI spent most of my adult life hiding while presenting an image to others of the person I wanted them to see. The woman I hoped to be but quite frankly, didn’t see myself as. If asked, I would’ve readily admitted I had an unhealthy fear of rejection.

I knew I overemphasized other’s opinions, but I didn’t understand why. Therefore, I continually fought surface level battles that led to short-lived behavior modification, frustration, and, often, defeat.

Galatians 1:10 was my go-to verse, one I prayed and meditated on countless times. Written by a first century church planter who routinely faced rejection and persecution, it says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

And every time I read those words, conviction squeezed my heart, followed by a commitment to do better. But a week or maybe a month later, I’d find myself battling the same insecurities.

I felt defeated. Stuck.

I wasn’t. Instead, I was held, searched, and known, deeply and intimately, by the one who not only sunset with quote pulled from text.saw my struggles but also the root cause beneath them (Psalm 139:1-2). Through a series of painful events, He allowed an inner lie to surface so that He could replace it with truth.

I was a new, and hugely insecure leader at the time, interacting with wounded and insecure women while still, largely, dealing with my own hurts and fears. I thought I could power through, but in so doing, was living but a fragment of who Christ created me to be.

God wanted to take me to a place of freedom. Therefore, He allowed me to land smack dab in three consecutive, ugly interactions where I felt misjudged, slandered, and attacked.

In response, I began to pull deeper into myself, feeding negative thinking that had been dormant yet festering deep within my heart. Lies I’d thought I’d overcome, had long since moved past, but which the God who searches and knows me saw as clearly as the tears on my face. And as He watched, He was waiting for the perfect moment to reveal them to me—so that He could initiate healing.

One afternoon, while I was moping around the house, my husband said, “You’re acting like you did something wrong.”

In that moment, something clicked, and a thought followed, Because I think I’m bad.

As God’s gentle Spirit ushered in, I realized my intense reaction—the reason the three rejections had hurt so deeply—came from a belief adopted early in my childhood, one I thought I’d long since dealt with but that had been far too engrained through years of hurt and failure to uproot easily.

Bowing my head, I offered my pain and the falsehoods surrounding it to the God who “searched me and knows me, when I sit and when I rise;” and who “perceives my thoughts” the reason behind every action and emotion “from afar” (Ps. 139:1-2, paraphrased and personalized.)

God knows and loves you just as deeply, and wants to bring you to a place of deeper healing and freedom. When emotions and insecurities arise, instead of fighting them in your own strength, surrender them to Christ. Ask Him to show you their root and to, step by step and prayer by prayer, push out all that is false, ugly, and painful with His love and grace.

Let’s talk about this! When strong emotions arise, how do you normally respond? How might turning to Jesus lead to lasting freedom? In what ways have you experienced this to be true?

Cover image for Becoming His Princess Bible StudyShare your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, and make sure to grab a free copy of Wholly Loved Becoming His Princess Bible study. You can do so HERE. For those who live in the Omaha Metro, join me for live teaching at Christ Community Church, starting March 12th. Register HERE.

And make sure to join me for one of Wholly Loved’s upcoming Fully Alive conferences. Find out more HERE.

 

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The Dangers of Pain Avoidance

danger signPain avoidance can lead to devastating, enslaving, and life-squelching results. No one enjoys pain, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. In fact, most of us will go to great lengths to preserve our comfort level—many times, unfortunately, to our own harm.

Admittedly, I’m likely more pain adverse than most. My husband and I became engaged in Nebraska (where I live now), and at the time, one needed blood tests before they could receive a marriage license.

This scared me on a couple levels. First, my past was far from squeaky clean and I’d always harbored a fear that I’d become infected with HIV. Second, I hated needles. So much so that the mere thought of one pricking my skin caused my pulse to rise, my muscles to tense, and my stomach to engage in enough fluttering to initiate a violent sense of nausea.

But I loved my fiancé (now husband) and desperately wanted to spend my life with him! So, each day, I’d drive to the local hospital, add my name to the blood-draw list, and wait. And wait. And wait.

And in my waiting, my anxiety grew until, ten to thirty minutes later, I walked out and drove home in defeat. Finally, my husband took time off work to drive me there himself, sitting with me in the waiting room to make sure I didn’t leave.

All fear stems from pain avoidance, and often, this avoidance ends up costing us much more than what we may have experienced had we simply confronted our fears.

We fear the pain of rejection and so we hold tight to unhealthy relationships or become relational chameleons. But by presenting a false self, we rob ourselves of the gift that comes from connecting with those who know us fully and love us anyway.

When our daughter entered public school after years of homeschooling and a short stint in Christian education, she suddenly found herself in the throws of a completely different culture. One that, at times, could be quite antagonistic to people of faith. I feared her desire to fit in, to make friends, to avoid the sting of rejection and loneliness, would sway her behavior, potentially leading her in a dangerous direction.

Until she told me about an incident during her social studies class. The teacher asked the students, if they could change the world, what would they wish for? Ashley raised her hand and said, “That everyone would be Christians, because then there’d be more love and less hate.”

Knowing how much she longed to make friends in this new environment, I was flabbergasted and asked, “Were you worried how the others might respond?”

“No,” she replied. “I’d rather they know who I am, and either like me or not for that.”

In other words, she was prepared for the possible sting of rejection, and though I have no doubt some amount of fear lingered at the thought, she faced that fear, and in so doing, embraced a deeper level of freedom.

She also discovered her people—friends who loved her for who she was, not who she could’ve pretended to be.

When we think of pain, usually our minds jump to the physical, and that can be daunting for sure. But emotional pain—loss, rejection, betrayal—has the capacity to hurt us most. Because of this, pain avoidance can become our driving motivation. It can cripple us and hinder our ability to live fully alive, if we let it.

But like I did in that hospital lab so long ago, and my daughter did in a middle school classroom, we can face our fears, even if that means embracing potential pain, to live in freedom.

Moving From Rejected to Deeply Loved

Picture of Ashley outside resting against a tree trunkHer greatest strength, the one that had enabled her to overcome incredible challenges, was not only being called into question but was condemned. It was our daughter’s first real job, her first time out of state, on her own. Really, her first steps into the world of adulthood. But a critical roommate turned what God intended for a blessing into months of rejection and pain.

And as I listened to her relay all her roommate had said and done, my anger and sorrow began to rise. Had we been discussing an issue of sin, then perhaps I could’ve understood. Even agreed with the young woman, encouraging my daughter to embrace truth as she attempted to grow in her faith and talents.

And perhaps had our daughter been home, surrounded by her friends, her support system, the criticism wouldn’t have cut so deeply. But there she sat, over 1,000 miles away, barely twenty years old and embracing a role many adults would find intimidating, and her every move, her every word, her very identity, was being challenged. To make matters more confusing, this other woman, who was older than my daughter, claimed to be a Christian, and often used Scripture to back up her condemnations.

“Mom, what’s wrong with me?” my daughter asked.

My response: “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Do not let her challenge the core of who you are. Those things that make you strong. That make you you.”

Though my daughter knew I was right, it was hard to shake off the insecurity her roommate triggered. Those inner lies that cropped up when life became hard and others acted ugly, lies that told her she was annoying or not good enough kept playing through her mind.

But my daughter kept pressing, kept praying, and kept going to work each day, refusing to cower to one woman’s faulty opinion. And over time, reality hit. She began to notice instances when her roommate was critical of others, belittled others behind their back, and viewed everyone and everything through a lens of judgment. This provided the context that allowed my daughter to see the situation more clearly.

She gained the wisdom necessary to shake off the rejection and move forward in godly confidence.

In Matthew 7:5, Jesus instructs us, when in relational conflict, to first remove the beam out of woman praying with text of quote pulled from articleour eye so that we can see clearly. In context, He’s addressing the person doing the judging, the person with a critical spirit, but I believe the general principle applies to both sides. So often, we have planks, whether pride, areas of deception, or wounds caused by past hurts, that distort our vision. Only God can see the situation clearly. Therefore, the best thing we can do, whenever conflict arises, is to seek Jesus. To ask Him to show us what’s really going on—our role and the other person’s.

When we do that, we may find, as my daughter did, that the issue isn’t about us at all. Other times, He may show us areas we need to change. Either way, by leaning into Him and seeking His wisdom, we step deeper into freedom and in situations like my daughter experienced, learn to move from rejected to deeply and wholly loved.

If this post encouraged you, pop over to the Wholly Loved website to watch a short video devotion on “shaking off the dust” of rejection. You can watch it HERE.

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