This is my praise: For all that our Lord Jesus Christ has done and does for me, He will always be King of my heart!
My problem wasn’t a man. When a romantic relationship didn’t take off, I fell apart because it triggered the psychological fear of being alone. Our Lord took me through the heartbreaks — and I had a long trail of them! — to teach me to put my trust in Him and overcome my fear. What I was afraid of was precisely what He took me through so that I would not be afraid of being alone. He did this by teaching me to persevere by holding on to His promises and His Word. At the same time, He taught me and led me to others who taught me how to use my physical and all my inner resources — psychological, emotional and spiritual — to cope and eventually overcome.
If I had gotten married, it is very likely that I might not have suffered depression, nor learnt to deal with the underlying issue of coping well with being alone. The symptoms might disappear but the issues would remain unresolved and manifest themselves in unexpected ways. Or, when a crisis occurs, you run or find an escape so that the symptoms go away until another crisis happens and you fall apart. Worse still, because you yourself have not learned the skills to cope, when others around you fall apart you can’t help. You let them do what you yourself do: flee or hide behind defences. And the vicious cycle continues.
We need to stand our ground (Heb 10:32), and “persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised” (Heb 10:36) and don’t shrink back because He won’t be pleased with us (Heb 10:38). Take special note of the verse that follows: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Heb 10:39)
Crises, problems and challenges expose our weaknesses. If we do not address them, they could drag us down or implode within and that could erase all our gains, and threaten to put our faith at risk. That, I believe is what Heb 10:39 is implying. Don’t shrink back. It is a sign that we don’t have the faith to press forward and triumph over that one thing that gets us down.
Take a break!
This post is going to be a little long. So, take a break and listen to this song that best describes where I am at spiritually. It’s an old Irish hymn given a modern take by the Rend Collective Experiment. It’s called You’re My Vision. You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MtYnJFxJ5s
I thought the first line in the fourth verse which says “I don’t want riches or a man’s empty praise” might upset some people — those who preach and want the prosperity Gospel. But, when you read the next line — “You’re my inheritance, now and always” — I think, it is theologically correct. When He is our “inheritance”, we can trust Him for all our needs, including riches. That’s putting the horse before the cart!
Enjoy the song!
Back to this post. My testimony is not any more special than anybody else’s. Everyone’s testimony is powerful because it shows the work of God. The reason why I have described my testimony is because it will illustrate all the things that our Lord wants me to say.
First and foremost, friends, our Lord didn’t just mend my heart; he created a new heart, that matched His in some way. He built me up emotionally and I became confident of myself, and liked myself. If Jesus accepts me the way I am, I could easily accept myself, and confront my shortcomings. In that way, I saw His redemptive grace strengthen me where I was weak. I soon became confident and learnt to speak honestly from my heart, and my relationships improved.Those who were likewise emotionally honest, responded and relationship problems were ironed out. Others, I couldn’t get through.
A heart that is confident in Christ’s redemptive grace is a heart where He is King. The result is that we will relate better with one another, and, that can only be a blessing! Just as the ministry of His love comes to us through a personal relationship with Him, that same ministry of love will flow to others through Christ-like relationships with them — when He is King and Lord of our hearts!
1. Confidence is the major ingredient for success. Not resources. Not wealth. Not talent. Not position or role. I lost confidence in myself because of all my going-nowhere relationships with men. But, when I looked back and realised how well our Lord has taken care of me, I feel loved and accepted the way I am. This has boosted my self-worth, which, in turn, made me more confident. And I began to do better for myself.
Sometimes, it is normal to lose confidence in some area of life. The problem, challenge or situation before us may be too much for us to handle or new to us at that time. And we shrink back. If we recoil, recoup and return, that is a step forward. But, when we return, we must come back in confidence, that we can handle this. In Christ, we can.
If we don’t press forward, it is most likely because we lack confidence. Then, we hem and haw, shuffle our feet, posture and postulate from a distance but can not take the bull by the horns. We give excuses, and, usually, everybody else is to blame except us. The laziest excuse — when we don’t want to do anything — is to say, it is God’s will! Or, we spin a web of deceit, conceit and lies and hide behind it because we don’t have the confidence to confront the real underlying issue. When we are confident, we will face up to our shortcomings, accept them, correct ourselves, take the next step forward and get past it!
Lack of confidence is invariably rooted in poor self-esteem. We don’t like ourselves and so can’t affirm ourselves as the handiwork of Christ our Lord. How then, can we affirm others and help build them up? Whatever we start is doomed — from the start! And, the desires of our heart remain unmet.
Self-confidence begins with self-acceptance. When we see ourselves as Christ sees us — wonderfully made in His image — we can accept ourselves and affirm who we are in Christ. Our self-worth rises, with self-confidence following suit!
2. Honesty is the best policy. One of the ways, I learnt to cope with my feelings is to be brutally honest before God. I would explain to Him why I felt the way I felt, and, somehow, it freed me to let go. Eph 4:15 best describes it: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Speaking the truth in love helps us “grow” to become mature — and confident — in Christ.
I get a lot of unsolicited attention from men, married and unmarried, young and old. It makes the women very insecure. I am, often, the brunt of their frustrations. If they had only spoken honestly with me, I would have helped them as I have no interest in their men! Instead they say all sorts of things about me, but never admit that the real issue is their insecurity. Others believe them. Yet, no one has yet approached me to find out the truth. If they had, I would have set the record straight and the truth would have set us all free. When women are uncomfortable with me, I can guess the reason. I don’t use it against them though it isolates me, because I know it takes honesty to deal with it.
When members of the Body of Christ speak the truth in love, it is redemptive grace taking over our hearts, and healing where there are rifts. Matt 5: 22-24 says: ““Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” We should speak the truth in love and sort out issues with one another. Unfortunately, we don’t practise it much, and, perhaps, that’s the reason why our offerings are affected.
3. Get help from those who care for you. God gave us a church — the Body of Christ — so that we don’t have to carry our burden alone. In my experience, God gave me a very select few at the crucial times, but when I discovered my real problem and had a relapse I couldn’t cope with a few years ago, I got professional help. Healing came at the altar but the counselling taught me skills to cope.
When seeking help, don’t go to anyone who doesn’t have your interests at heart. I went to see a number of spiritual leaders (one, at least three times!) but I always felt like I was running up against a brick wall. It appeared as if they had preconceived notions about me, or they had another agenda or more important loyalties to protect such as their bosses or their spouses that I couldn’t break through. I gave up after awhile!
We should go to those whose hearts are free to help because their assurance is in Christ, Lord and King of hearts! In Him, we can get past our petty insecurities and reach out in the magnanimity of His great love. The person seeking help from such a heart can receive nothing but blessings!
NEXT FRIDAY: Lessons for the fringe Christian