In a recent prayer time, God gently confronted me. He asked me this simple question. Are you going to be a slave to your to-do-list today, or are you going to focus on bringing me glory? Another way of putting this is: Are you working tirelessly to bring yourself glory as the “perfect wife’, “perfect mother” etc, or are you releasing your day to God and asking him to show you what to do and what NOT to do to bring HIM glory?
Oh man! Busted. To be honest, I tend to drive myself to always do more and do it better, because I want to look good in other people’s eyes. I become exhausted and stressed in the process. The good news is that God didn’t design us to be people-pleasers. Yes, we are to love people, but our focus shouldn’t be on doing whatever they want. Our focus also shouldn’t be trying to look good in people’s eyes. The Bible reminds us in Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?”
I am confident that if you and I were both to release our days to God and ask Him to guide us, we would find much more peace! We would be free of performance-exhaustion. Instead, we would be free to follow God’s promptings, which will lead to greater joy and peace than we’ve ever known. In fact, if you listen for God’s voice, he might even tell you to take a nap or relax while listening to praise music! God’s Word promises that those who seek to follow Him (instead of following their own agenda) will enter peace! (Isaiah 57:2 says, “For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace.” And Isaiah 26:3 reminds us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get consumed with the “what if” questions. What if my husband were to pass away? What if we lost our income? What if my kids make a really bad life-altering decision? What if my husband becomes attracted to another woman? When I start thinking this way, my serenity level plunges and my anxiety level shoots through the roof!
Well, here are some decisions that both you and I can make in order to regain peace of mind:
1) We must decide to follow the instructions given in Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In other words, we need to tell God all our concerns and ask Him to be in control!
2) We need to decide to trust Jesus with all things! I mean, seriously, do we believe God loves us and that He is perfect in all His ways? If we REALLY trust Him, then we can relax and realize that, even in difficult circumstances, He has a plan to bring about good thing in the lives of those who love Him. This is the essence of Romans 8:28… “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
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I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation. (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!) So why would a wife give up? I believe it boils down to one main fear.
The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draw a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure. But this is faulty thinking! Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness. God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security. If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially. I know He is. Do you trust Him? Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?
Trust in the One who will never leave your side. Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs. Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries. That One is Jesus.
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!
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!).
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!!
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.