Discovering the root of dysfunctional patterns

We often feel stuck in unhealthy patterns of behavior or unhealthy beliefs about ourselves, don’t we?  Here’s a thought.  Instead of staying stuck there, how about if we dig down to discover the root of the dysfunction so that we can dig it up and be free?!  After all, God intends us to be free.  John 8:36 says. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

I’ve found this simple exercise to be very helpful in finding freedom from unhealthy old thinking and old ways.  Think of the main negative emotion you’re experiencing lately.  It could be worry, fear, anger, sadness, insecurity, jealousy, loneliness, resentment, shame, etc.  Now ask God to help you remember the very, very first time you ever remember experiencing the same emotion.  Many women can trace that emotion back to their toddler years or grade school years!  Now take a moment to consider the event that prompted that emotion.  Did someone say something to you?  Did a situation cause that feeling?

Once you’ve identified the event that prompted this feeling, ask God to reveal whether you began believing a lie about yourself or other people as a result of that event.  Remember, Satan is described by Jesus in John 8:44 as “the father of lies“, and he likely whispered a lie in your ear about that event.

For me personally, I have wrestled all my life with the dysfunctional tendency to avoid conflict and ignore serious problems in relationships. So, I tried this exercise.  I realized my main negative emotion is fear.  As I pondered this with God, I realized I first started feeling that emotion as a toddler in a home where there was tons of yelling and verbal abuse.  God helped me see that the lie I believed back then was that somehow I needed to find a way to make the yelling stop, and that keeping everyone “happy” was my responsibility so that things didn’t spiral way out of control. But that thinking was a lie! It wasn’t my responsibility then and it isn’t my responsibility now!

Have you been believing a lie all these years?  Has it affected your decisions?  Has it resulted in dysfunction in your life?  Ask God to reveal the truth about who you are.  Ask God to give you right beliefs to overcome the lies of the enemy!

Resisting the temptation that has your name written on it!

About 25 years ago, I heard a line in a sermon that will always stick with me.  The pastor said we all have a “signature sin”…a sin that has our name written all over it!  Do you have a signature sin or temptation?  Is there one particular thing that trips you up all the time?  Yes, that’s what I thought.  And I’m sure Satan laughs his butt off every time you and I give into that temptation.

Well, we all might have a signature sin or a specific temptation that seems insurmountable, but Satan doesn’t get the last laugh!  Jesus promises to provide a way out of every temptation.  I just need to ask Him to give me eyes to see the avenue of escape and for Him to give me the strength to turn from my old patterns and take that escape exit.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says “…God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I’ve learned that the first step in overcoming that signature sin in my life is this: discovering the lie I’ve believed!  For me, the “way out” of temptation to eat the wrong food is uncovering the ridiculous lie I’ve believed about food.  God is showing me that I have somehow been deluded into thinking that eating a boatload of sugary treats and a ton of french fries would make me feel better!  That’s a lie.  The truth is that eating healthy will make me feel better, so that’s what I’ve been choosing to do for the last 5 years.  And you know what?  I feel great…physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Do you keep repeatedly falling into the same temptation because you’ve believed a lie?  It’s food for thought (pardon the pun!).

Becoming a secure & confident woman!

Most women wrestle with insecurity, and when we live in a place of insecurity, we often make unhealthy choices.  We tend to put up with disrespectful behavior.  We tend to look to other people for our value and become codependent in relationships.

Well, I have found that meditating on these 3 Bible verses helps me start to feel more secure and grounded.  I become more confident in both my value and the decisions I need to make in life.  I begin to relax and feel safe.  As a result, I can approach all my relationships in a much healthier way!  Here are the 3 verses:

1) He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:5) *you are his adopted daughter!  Awesome!!

2)  Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) *He will always be by your side! Awesome!!

3) You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. (Psalm 73:24)  *He will guide me in all my decisions and he is preparing a fantastic future for me in eternity! Awesome!!

Move from despair to anticipation!

In our marriage and in all our relationships, we will face challenges.  In response, we often wring our hands in despair, get mad at God, sink into depression, lash out at people around us, get really grouchy, and on and on.  We act as if we’re surprised that we’ve encountered heartache and trials.  Well, here’s a news flash for you.  Trouble is normal and to be expected.  After all, Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble“.  Drat.

However, God has a plan to do something wonderful in the middle of our challenges…if we decide to move out of despair and self-pity.  God wants to teach us something.  He doesn’t waste any opportunities for our personal growth!  In the middle of our suffering, God gives us the choice to either wallow in depression or contemplate what He might be trying to teach us.  Romans 5:3-5 sums this up well: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

 The choice is yours.  You can stay mired in despair if you want to, or you can anticipate a time of great personal growth and shaping of your character.  Could God be teaching you patience, or perhaps teaching you to be courageous in confronting abuse, or maybe teaching you to help and comfort others who share a similar heartache?  Maybe the Lord simply wants to teach you to draw even closer to Him and to trust in Him completely.

Don’t miss out on your life!!

We are all so prone to dwell on what we don’t have.  For instance, you might spend lots of mental time and energy longing for a more romantic husband.  Or maybe you rehearse over and over again the many qualities your husband lacks!  You may be a single woman reading this devotion, and you may be spending lots of energy and time trying to capture a man who can become your husband!

Here’s the thing.  We can easily spend so much time focusing on what we don’t have…and trying to manipulate people and circumstances to get what we want…that we don’t even enjoy the many blessings God has actually given us.  We can miss out on the life we have!

Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  You and I need to focus on the many things for which we can be thankful.  What good people has God placed in your life?  How has God provided for you?  Dwell on those things and be thankful.  When you stop focusing on what you don’t have, you’ll finally be able to truly enjoy all the blessings that you do have!

Bible verse to help you overcome insecurity

Most women are plagued by insecurity.  As a result of our insecurity, we end up putting up with rude, irresponsible or abusive behavior from others.  Our insecurity leads up to covet what other women have.  Our insecurity prompts us to put other people down so we look better in comparison.   When we are drowning in insecurity, we tend to expect a man to be the “answer”.  We seek and catch a husband and then expect him to make us feel better about ourselves by constantly telling us that we’re beautiful, desirable, smart, funny, intelligent, etc.   However, our husbands are imperfect themselves!  They can’t be our source of security.

I believe we would benefit by reading aloud one particular Bible verse every morning.  It is a great reminder of how God sees us.  It’s a reminder that He loves us and even delights in us!  This verse portrays the picture of a loving father tenderly cradling his daughter in his arms.  Here is the verse.  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.”   Close your eyes and picture God smiling at you as he holds you.  Hear him whispering those words to you.  Ah. So good.  I feel so much more secure.  How about you?

Be on the alert for this destructive attitude!

We’ve all been betrayed and we’ve all betrayed others.  I can almost guarantee this is true for all of us, although we only seem to remember the times when we’ve been betrayed.  We conveniently “forget” the times we’ve betrayed others, in big and small ways.

Here’s the thing.  When we allow our focus to remain on the deeply hurtful things people have done to us, it’s as if we tie a heavy chain around our ankles and toss ourselves into a deep, dark lake.  We slowly sink deeper and deeper into murky darkness.  We’re starved for life-giving oxygen.  We slowly drown in self-pity.  We become enveloped by resentment and that resentment becomes a poison to us and everyone around us!

Cut the chains of bitterness and resentment!  Come up for air.  Drop the “victim” attitude.  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:15 to “see to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many”.  Your choice to embrace and coddle your bitterness will surely be the death of your joy and the joy of those around you.

How can you get rid of this super destructive attitude of resentment? Here are some insights. Choose this day to be thankful for what you do have.  Make a choice to have compassion on your offender, realizing that you’re not perfect either!  If the resentment stems from current behavior, then seek godly counsel on establishing boundaries in that relationship.  Finally, ask God to redeem your painful experience in some kind of way.  He loves to do that!  Romans 8:28 promises us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”