We were sitting in Panera Bread talking over broccoli cheddar cheese soup (of course) when she got a text that changed the course of our conversation.
She put her hands behind her head and leaned back, not in a relaxing way but in a fidgeting way. Her face got flushed, and she squirmed in her seat and said, “It’s happening right now.” She was having an anxiety hiccup (attack is too strong a word here, but it was a thing). “Okay,” I said. “Tell me more.”
She was hiccuping because she didn’t know how to respond to a text where she might be disappointing someone, where they might be upset at her. The text was just the weed peeking out from the dirt. The anxiety was coming from what was under the dirt, the tangled deep root of the wounded child that stayed in the heart of the adult.
We can pull the weed, but we better get at the root or we’ve done nothing but temporarily made a pretty show of the external.
“Listen to me. You are a grown woman, and you can handle this. Let’s talk it through right now.”
She took a deep breath, nodded at the fact that she was, indeed, a grown woman and able to handle this situation. We talked it through, she dealt with the text, and all was fine. She was okay. External.
Anxiety was telling her she couldn’t handle it, but the truth was, she could, and it wasn’t going to kill her.
We started at the roots, and it took her no time at all to go back to the child in her heart who learned that she must not trust her responses or she might lose what she wants more than anything: love. Internal.
My friend Cathy says that children are excellent observers but terrible interpreters. If we don’t trace our weeds back to the dirt, gently allowing God to excavate what’s underneath, we will carry our interpretations into our adulthood, creating and living out of a blindspot to the truth. So how do we know when we’ve carried our childhood wounds into our adulthood? Start with this:
1. Pay Attention.
What causes you to fly off the handle? What is it that causes you to go from 1-100 in no time flat? What words or actions? If you’re not sure, start paying attention and write down the circumstances that cause you to bolt into anger.
What causes you to feel anxious?
What causes you to feel depressed (we’re not talking about chemical depression but situational depression)?
The key is to get curious and follow the clues that your reactions give you. Just like a red light on the dash of your car alerts you that something is wrong, our emotions alert us as well. Learn to observe your emotions without judgment.
2. What lies are you believing in?
Which of these hits you? Feel free to add your own.
I am bad. I am worthless. I am unloved. I am not good enough. I am ugly. I am stupid. I am forgettable. I am a failure. I am not worth fighting for. I am wrong. I am lazy. I am weird. I am defective. I am shameful.
3. What are your goals?
Our goals are often subconscious, so just see which of these hits you.
I must . . .
Be good enough, confident, fit, respected, pretty, smart, right, wanted, successful, hidden, look like I have it all together, look good.
Now take a minute and put your belief and your goal together. For example, I am unloved, therefore I must please people so they will love me.
Here’s what often happens: Someone steps on this landmine in your heart and you react. When that happens, your emotion takes over because, landmine, and it threatens how you want/need to be viewed (self-protecting behavior). This is the red light on your dash. So you ask, Where did this belief come from? What is my first memory where I felt this? If junk is coming up for you, finding a good counselor or mentor to work this through is your next step. But in the meantime, tell yourself the truth.
4. Here’s the truth.
What do we all want deep down? We want to be loved and secure. So here’s the good news: Our worth and value are only dependent on how Christ sees us, and He sees us as righteous if we are in Him.
I don’t have to be good enough or smart enough or even taken seriously by others. How other people view me does not determine my worth — only Jesus determines my worth, and He is the only one who has the authority to tell me who I am.
The more we are willing to deal with our junk, to face our sin and our pain and our wounds, the freer we will become and the less damage we’ll do to ourselves and those around us.
The invitation is always on the table, the only question is, Are we willing to let God and others into the dirt?
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)
Only Jesus determines my worth, and He is the only one who has the authority to tell me who I am. -@sarahmae: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This statement is SO true: “Children are excellent observers, but terrible interprerters.” One of the “down” sides to being an only child is that you don’t get to see that your parents treat your siblings in much the same way as they treat you. I took my parents actions, lack of actions, and reactions very personally because I had nothing to compare them to. I was this sensitive kid who wore her emotions on her sleeve and I had two parents who rarely showed emotion. Conclusion drawn…something is “wrong” with me. I craved affirmation in words. My dad never said he loved me. Conclusion drawn: I must be unlovable. What got a positive reaction out of my parents? Good grades in school, being a “good” girl, following the rules, etc. I learned very early on to be a people pleaser. I suspect I’m not alone. Time has given me perspective that though my “love language” was words, my dad spoke the language of “acts of service”. In other words, he “told” me that he loved me by providing for me, putting a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back. I look back at how his parents were (my grandparents) and they were not warm and fuzzy people. I craved warm and fuzzy. One time I actually confronted my dad and asked him why he never said that he loves me? His answer? He said, “I tell you that I love you everyday.” He was speaking his love language and I couldn’t interpret it. I still get hung up on the people pleasing thing – old habits die hard, but learning to live to an audience of One helps me to really embrace that my identity is found in knowing Whose I am. People are definitely not perfect and we wound each other. God never wounds…He is pure love. Excellent post that spoke right to the wounded places in my heart.
Blessings and thanks,
Bev xx (People Pleasers Anonymous)
I’ve praying for a husband to be loved and feel secured. My mother and father were married for 44 years. I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers. I’m next to the youngest sister. Even though I had large family I never heard the words I love you. I would see my order siblings get in trouble and I was always trying to be the good little girl do everything right so that I could be most lovable child. I married at 21, to abusive man and stayed for 10 years! It was all about please him so that he would love me and not hurt me! After my divorce I had several other relationship were I felt so unloved, not pretty, not worth anything. God has slowly uprooted these hiding beliefs I had about myself. This is such a on time message for me! I still struggle with wanting to please and wanting affirmation. God is the one that determines my worth.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Like you, I so wanted to be loved and cherished that I look back and see that I settled for what I thought resembled love….far from it. I was in my first marriage for 25 year and my ex was verbally and emotionally abusive. I was willing to settle for a “tootsie roll” when what God wanted for me was a “Godiva bar”. Second thing I learned is that one man’s opinion of you does not determine your worth. When my ex left me, I felt worthless. God has taken me on a journey to realize that He and only He determines my worth. Praying that God would work that truth deep into your soul where it will take root and remind you that you are the child of the King – His beloved daughter. THAT is your immeasurable worth sweet sister.
Beth Williams says
Thank you for an inspiring post. I know many women will get help from this. You are so spot on with this: “only Jesus determines our worth”. Trouble is the world speaks loud & says do more achieve more, receive awards, have it all then you will be loved by millions. That may be true but only for a short time while your star is shining. When you no longer achieve, do or are out of spotlight then that audience is gone. We need to show this world that Jesus loves them more than they know. He is the one true determiner of our worth. He feels we were worth ALL the pain & agony of the cross. We must get to dig deep down in our souls to find the reason for our anxiousness & pull it out by the roots. We have to name it & claim it. Then lay it all down at His feet. Let Him search us, find those hurtful & anxious thoughts within us & take them out. My parents hugged a lot & I want/need that to show my & Christ’s love.
This really helped me better understand my current situation, thank-you so much for sharing.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.
The Lord be with you all.
I hope that you all have a blessed day,
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
On youtube watch the Father’s Love Letter. This is what God think of you. No matter what has happened in your life. You are Loved and Special. God knows all about you even before you were born. You will never stop God Loving You. You will alway be his dearly loved Child. Take your time listing to the Father’s Love letter if never heard it before. As it says it all xxx
This post is right on the money!! Or spot on!! I never really thought of just turning my thoughts to Jesus determines my worth and to replace that self abusing thoughts ie I’m worthless, not good enough etc with a thought of ifJesus loves me I am not worthless. Now don’t get me wrong I had a good upbringing and my parents never told me those types of nasty comments but when they were talking and I would walk in the room they would stop talking. It was about stuff that didn’t concern children well that had an effect on me coupled with teenage years was not a good mix. Those type of negative thoughts I don’t think them every day but they pop up even in my adult life. I was a people pleaser for many years and put my self worth in the hands of others as to whether they liked me or not. Thank God I grew out of that and don’t operate like that anymore but you’ve given me a phrase that when those doubts do creep in I can quash them with the love of Jesus. He and he alone determines my worth! Thank you!