how to not play the victim of your own life

You think you’re a victim. But you’re not. You’re actually okay. Everything’s okay.”

Justin tells me this, in the maddening and awesome way that he does. My heart whispers, “Listen,” even though my first impulse is to wish this all away.

Really? Is this true? Have I believed I am a victim, God? How?

I need God’s interpretation now, or none of this is going to make any sense.

My friend and I have been reading Romans together. It is Romans 10:8 that sticks in my head: “The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”

What is true here, Jesus? How am I not believing in You? If your message is in my heart, am I yet rebelling against your truth, right now?

I spend time for days waiting on God to interpret Justin’s words. I go into my daughter’s room—temporarily quiet, as she is at sleep-away camp for the week. I shut the door; I close the shutters. I press my knees to the ground.

What I learn is not what I expected.

What being a victim can look like

  1. A victim can twist the truth and reject God’s inheritance when she strives to preserve herself rather than strive to surrender the sin within her. (For example, I often take a comment someone says and take it personally—I assume the comment is negative rather than neutral or positive because of this awful truth: people’s praise can matter more to me than my identity in God.)
  2. The mindset of the victim is one of powerlessness, weakness, insecurity, low-worth. (For example, I am reticent to receiving criticism because I believe the lie I don’t have what it takes—that I’ve failed again.)

In the quiet, the Holy Spirit leads me to the cross. He helps me feel and hear and see: I have been acting like a victim though this mindset is unwarranted, unjustified. There is a lot here I must confess or bury, repent of or push away.

What am I going to choose? How do I turn, God?

There are two kinds of victims

Victims of the World

There is more to consider here when we think about the mindset of the victim. Because  sometimes we are a victim. After all, this life is hard, unfair. This world—and people—can be cruel. In this case, God fights for the heart of the victim—the victims abused by the world, the victims who need God’s intervening love to help them continue on.

But God also fights for daughters who are victims of their own doing—the daughters who believe lies about themselves, the daughters who live in bondage. The daughters who have yet to claim the freedom they inherit, with Christ’s new life inside them.

To put it simply: living our lives with the attitude of a victim negates the truth of our identity in Christ: It denies that we are “more than conquerors” due to Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 8:37). It denies that Christ was never a victim, not even to death. It denies that Jesus beat death to hell and back and chose us to tell the tale.

If you are a victim of the world, of life’s twists and turns, of cruelty and pain and injustice, God is coming to heal you. This healing may involve you sharing your story in community. (I am doing this as soon as I can.) It may involve you entering counseling. (I have done this, and it turned my world upside down and right side up, in the most perfect way.) But know this: Jesus is here to bring healing to you.  He is gathering you to himself. Step forward now, daughter. He has something to say.

Victims of the Self

If you are a victim of yourself, of self-doubt, of lies that you’ve let take root in your heart (I am sad to say that this has been my speciality, for years and years), it is time to ask Jesus to uproot the darkness you feel. It is time to ask him to show you, reveal to you, what it is he sees. God wants to bring wholeness to our hearts. He brings together what is divided. His love for us makes us clean, completely washed and new.

Death is victim to love, not the other way around

Discovering a new truth about our self is not always fun, but it is good. Every lie God has revealed to me I have broken, by the authority of  Jesus Christ. I don’t want to stay in this same place–I want victory. I want life. He has given me everything. I want to say yes to all he has.

But it is a battle to not fall back into the same habits, believe the same lies.

I want to be honest with you. Since spending time with God in solitude, reading Scripture, seeking his truth, asking for his interpretation on what people said, confessing, and repenting, I continue to struggle with the victim attitude. I catch myself feeling it–and I have to ask God to help me stay close–to his heart, his truth, his mercy. I continue to surrender. I try and fail and try again. And I get angry–angry at myself, angry at God. But then, on a walk today I hear Jesus tell me that this struggle, despite its mess, is so much better than me being resigned.

We are  not the victim of our own life. Jesus made sure of that.

So, will you join me, as I continue to pray?

Father, we need to know what you think. Let us not reject our inheritance as conquerors, in Christ. Let us not forget the power of your presence in us. Let us listen to your voice. Let us not abandon the truth of who, in Christ, we are.

You are our source of life, our source of love, our source of strength that reminds us we are more than conquerors. We are true. We are free. We are in battle in a world set against us, yes. But you, the God who is for us, is more than we ever need to live lives of authority and strength.

We are chosen. We are loved. We have what it takes to make the choice this day to listen to the One who loves us. You, who says, “I will always find you. But seek me. Seek me and there you will be found.”

We hear you. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How do you find yourself feeling like a victim? Is it warranted? How do you need God to come for your heart?

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the bright light of our testimony

[vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h1″ size=”24″ force_font_size=”true” font_weight=”bold” font_family=”none”]THE BRIGHT LIGHT OF OUR TESTIMONY[/mk_fancy_title][mk_dropcaps]I[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text]wonder where the quiet is sometimes. It feels scarce, precious. Like I don’t know how to reach it. Still, I am greedy for it. I convince myself: nothing I can do will make it available to me. My heart beats too fast, surely. Slow me down, Father. There, there You are.

I watch a movie that shows me God’s face. An actor depicts Him as the father who loves with intention. He watches his son, and He protects him. He pursues, and yet He lets him, if the son chooses, to fall.

And the son falls.

I wouldn’t know God unless He let me fall.

HOW OUR INITIAL REJECTION OF GOD MIGHT NOT BE A BAD THING

I wonder about this story of mine–why it is that I had to fall, to sin, to know Jesus like I do. But I know I wouldn’t have understood, even just a little, the sweetest of his forgiveness. I wouldn’t have understood, even just a little, the redemption that comes from grace. After all, it was my thinking–I didn’t need God–that ultimately pulled me toward Him. He knew. He knew, I think, I had to fall.

I talk to Him about how I wish it didn’t have to be this way–my pushing and pulling, my rebellion against His goodness. I have been an expert wrestler for independence when separateness from God was the last thing actually good for me. But this I know: there is one way independence is beautiful. Choose Me. Or not. Love Me. Or not. There is no half way. There is no second guessing. We choose Jesus to be in our life, or we reject Him.

MAYBE WE NEED TO FALL

I know a lot of us can tell stories about our experience of rejecting God. And maybe, actually, those stories are not so bad. The wrestling with God–maybe even the temporary rejection of Him–is just what we need. The act of wrestling propels us to make a decision. And in that decision, we come face to face with God’s heart.

For me, I had to push Jesus away completely before I could recognize how desperate I am to be in his arms. And He loves me. He loves me still.

He loves you still.

WHEN THE CONFUSION STARTED

A friend asks me a question that makes me consider my story. She knows it; I’ve told it to her, leaving nothing out. She worries that the sharing of my story might make a person more anxious, more worried about sinning themselves.

I am confused. Conflicted. No, actually . . . I am none of those things. . .  I am resolved.

The story of God’s rescue of us is beautiful. It is what makes us beautiful.

Jesus’ rescue of us makes our testimony–our testimony that includes our fall–a beacon of light in a night. Our life shines now that it has been redeemed. For me to tell you I know Jesus without telling you how I know Him, how He rescued me, would be to deny that I have sinned. It would be to wear a shroud of secrecy that brings deaths to any heart.  Our rescue is the beginning of our truest self. And how do we tell the beginning of us without the context provided by the story of our fall?

REDEMPTION IS BEAUTIFUL, EVEN IN THE DARKEST MESS

I don’t know how to tell my story–tell a listener about the Jesus I know–without telling, also, of my fall. I don’t know how to point to Jesus and his love for me without acknowledging to anyone how I know, in the quietest, most truest place in my heart, how dark and desperate I am without Him. I cannot articulate how beautiful He is without remembering how He showed me who I am without him. I cannot explain how loving He is until I remember how He forgives me, again and again, when I deserve it least. I cannot speak of his grace without telling a story, without sharing how I saw His tears fall when He saw his daughter run into arms.

Jesus brings the dead to life. He brings the lost into the fold.

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LET’S START HERE

What is your story, sister? How do you know the God you know? Can we start here, just now? I reject the lie that our stories are not sacred, that they need to be boxed up, shelved.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Revelation 12: 10-11).

God has given you a voice, redemption, life and light. What now, will you do with it?

How, now, will you let your light–before your Father and before your friends and family–shine? I can’t wait to hear.

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beautiful desperate

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”3745″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”3746″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”3752″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”3744″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text title=”BEAUTIFUL DESPERATE”]”You are not the forgotten one.”

I hear it–a statement, simple enough, from a Father who pursues. He wants this truth to sink in deep this time. He wants me to believe it: Achievement does not make any person more worthy of love.

“You are not the forgotten one. You are the chosen one.”

Oh, Father. Take this heart that doubts your truth. Kill it in me. Give me a new heart. Help me deny the temptations of this world.

Yes, something in us has to die to make room for God’s truth.

WAKING UP

The fire in the hearth blazes. I sit with blanket pulled across my chest, turquoise plaid wool tucked under my feet. The house sleeps, but I know, God, You’re here. Early morning comes like a new beginning, a chance to awake, once more, to truth. A chance to put to death, once more, these lies.

Believing truth is a battle hard-fought and won. Other messages–the dark ones, the desperate ones–the eager pokes and prods to our heart that cause anxiety, doubt, insecurity–are so much easier, sometimes, to believe.

My head, so rational (usually) knows my value is not determined by the world’s definition of success: numbers, on a platform or a scale; beauty, from youth or wealth. My head knows this. My head recognizes the voice of the Father, the voice that has saved my life, given me hope when there was shame, new life when despair reigned.

But yet I still struggle to believe it. My heart rebels against my mind. My mind struggles to convince my heart.

THE PROBLEM

There is such good for us, we daughters of God–such a beautiful life, right here, right now. But rather than energized, we feel exhausted. Rather than free, we feel stuck. We are not made to feel overwhelmed, lost, depleted. And when we do? That’s how we know, in our spirit, that it is time to die again. It is time to break agreements we have made with the enemy about our worth. It is time to receive more of our King’s real life.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Over and over, I must give Jesus my heart. Over and over, I must discern what agreements I have made with the enemy and then immediately break them. Over and over, I must die to myself. There was a significant dying in me once before. It has helped me see the value of not delaying in doing it again.

A ROCK HARD HEART

Once upon a time, God, in his tenderness, saw his daughter cowering, a rock upon her chest, dragged down by deceit and pride and shame. And he lifted the rock off of her. He asked her if she wanted to keep her unchanged heart–a heart conditioned to lie and to pretend and to work to create an image that is anything but true. And for a while, she rejected Him. She could not imagine facing her sin. She could not imagine confessing and opening her heart.  So she said no. She was fine. And He let her stay, just like that, for two decades, a secret kept, a heart locked up, a rock upon her chest.

Not only from friends and family, but from my own self, I kept the secret of my abortion. I pushed it down, refused to think about it. I convinced myself that deception was a much better way to live than showing the world my scars. If I could hide my bad choices, my regrets, why wouldn’t I? Why reveal what I had done, who I really am, what I am capable of?

I kept the truth about me a secret, and, in doing so, I convinced myself, for two decades, that if no one knew what I did–what I am still capable of doing–I would be okay. The world was my idol. Keeping up an appearance in which everything looked beautiful, put together, polished and tidy and good made me feel that I was beautiful, put together, polished and tidy and good. I wanted to be these things. And convincing the world that I was these things was easy–easier, at least, than admitting it was actually a lie. All of it.

But there was a cost.

THE COST

The cost of the lie was my heart. I made an agreement with the enemy that I am only loved because of what I do. I made an agreement that if I, in my sin, am capable of so much deceit, of treachery, of murder, then surely I am no good. And I wasn’t ready to deal with that reality. So, rather than surrender my heart, my pain–confess my sin–I buried it.

Those decades of hiding my heart from God were some of the loneliest of my life.

“You are not the forgotten one.”

Old wounds healed. But new agreements made.

I feel myself wrestling to lay down my life again.

It is time.

EVEN THOUGH IT FEELS TOO GOOD TO BELIEVE

We are loved. We are loved despite of our sin. We are loved despite are weaknesses. And even though it feels too good to believe, even though, of course, we do not deserve it, this is the only path to Life. We must lay down our life; we must break agreements with the enemy; we must waste no more time in pretending to be strong, insisting on being stubborn.

We can’t do this life on our own, right here, right now. We are desperate for God. Beautifully desperate. And that is more–so much more–than okay.

This desperation for God is why I listened for God’s voice and I created Loop. This desperation for God is why I listened for God’s voice and I created Breathing Eden. This desperation for God is why I listen and I spend hours each morning creating a new project I am so eager to share with you soon.

And this is why, in whatever I write now, I endeavor to do it with vulnerability. For it is my vulnerability, my weakness, that is my strength. It is a lie from the enemy that tries to convince me that the opposite of this is true.

I am tired of believing lies.

SO, WHAT NOW?

How do we take steps, each day, to surrender?

How do we take steps, each day, to pick up our cross, be confident in our weaknesses, let God be our rock, our stronghold, our warrior, our King, our strength?

Let me know if you’d like me to share with you what I do. In the meantime, here is the truth I cling to: we are so beautifully desperate for God. And that’s a good thing.

What practical thing do you do in response to your desperation for God?

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