I also promised in my last blog that I would share the skills and tools God has given me to use when I find myself free-falling with the bungee cord of idolatry wrapped around my ankles. So here are those tools:
Self-awareness is the number one skill I have had to develop in order to untie that nagging bungee cord. Self-awareness comes from admitting what is going on in me. God wants me to know what is going on within me. By this I mean that I am to be fully honest with God about my emotions, desires, and struggles. This is biblical truth, not psychobabble. James 1:8 says that a double-minded person is unstable in all his ways. If I am hiding part of what is really going on in me and denying that it exists, then I am being double-minded. Eventually my double-mindedness will lead to instability and sin. I will make sinful choices and not even know what is driving my behavior.
God wants all of my heart. If I am to give it to Him, I must begin to know what I am giving. I cannot give Him the parts I don't know exist.
All of the other skills I will need are completely useless, if I am not first aware of and acknowledging the problem. So under the skill of self-awareness is a subset of skills and tools God has given me to be free. The Father has shown me my need for:
- Opening my heart to others. This one is perhaps most challenging for me, but oh so necessary. Sometimes it even comes before self-awareness because I need others to be able to see myself clearly. While it maybe easy to isolate myself or just keep things between me and God, I will miss health and healing in my life if I don't get real with others.Sin grows in isolation. Healing happens in relationship. Self-sufficiency is a lie from the pit. Even the sinless Son of God asked fallen human beings to pray with Him when He was suffering. If Jesus had friends and asked for their help, I need that too. If I don't open myself to others, then I am missing God. God tells us repeatedly to encourage one another, pray for one another, love one another, share with one another, etc. God's plan for me is relationship with Him and relationship with others. I can't be close with hundreds of people, but I can have a few very close friends who know my struggles, can see my blind spots, and can speak the truth freely into my life.
- Stillness and quiet, so I can hear what God is saying to my heart. Many times when I am feeling ill at ease and uncomfortable around my relationship with Kevin, I have tried to keep busy so I wouldn't have to think about it. This approach fails me on two levels: 1) I avoid what I need to face and 2) I am still able to obsess/replay the mental tape of what is eating at me. I must intentionally pull away from my own busyness and thoughts to stop and listen to what God says.
- Meditating on the truth and reading God's Word goes hand in hand with the stillness and quiet. I often go to the Psalms, Jeremiah, or Lamentations when I my soul is not at rest. Here I can see and hear how godly saints of old were completely real with God about what they were feeling and thinking. I often identify with their cries and I am set free to tell God exactly where I am.
- Opening my heart to the changing work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when I am stuck, I don't want to let go. Sometimes I struggle to open my hand and heart; I want someone to pay for the hurt. When I find myself hardened like this, I have to tell God the truth again and ask that He help me to want to change, to help me see His truth, to help me see how I am not helping myself or reflecting His glory.
- Repeating a short phrase that captures God's heart for me. These can be Bible verses or phrases or maybe lines from a hymn or song. A few of my favorites are, "Even so, He loves me," "He is for me," "He is with me always", and "I am His beloved daughter." I pick one of these according to my need and put it on autoplay in my mind.
While co-dependency has its downward cycle of despair (try harder... do more... fail... despair...), healing has a cycle of hope: open myself to others, see the truth, tell the truth to God, feel connected, tell the truth to myself, feel solid, open my hand and heart, feel release and freedom and more hope.
And that is a cycle I can live with.