A Creative Word

Practical, occasionally funny, faith-focused thoughts.

Category: healing

Use the Manufacturer’s Warranty

Once, a close friend and I had a discussion on a subject very close to our hearts: how men we loved, and who loved us, had hurt us. We didn’t bash them, but we did recognize that they weren’t able to heal those hurts.

Not long after this discussion, the Holy Spirit showed me something I hope I never forget. It was a picture of a young boy, maybe three or four years old. He was holding a yellow toy truck.Boy with Truck

The truck was one of his favorite toys, and he loved it best of all. But he had broken it. The boy certainly didn’t mean to break it, and he wants to fix it.

But, as he turns it this way and that, looking it over and tinkering with it, he isn’t able to repair it. Now, you and I know that this young boy doesn’t have the capacity, the tools– or the knowledge of how to use the tools– to fix the truck.

And the hard fact of the matter is that all his love & efforts won’t repair the damage.

But of course, that isn’t obvious to the young boy. He thinks, “It’s MY truck. I broke it. I should be able to fix it!” But as he fumbles with it, he is only making the damage worse.

You and I can easily predict what will happen next. Soon, he will become frustrated with himself and the truck. Then, he will become angry with the situation, although he’ll most likely direct his anger at the truck. Finally, he’ll give up, cease trying to fix the truck and find something else to occupy his time.

Now, it’s obvious to you and me that all the young boy has to do is take the truck to his Father and ask Him for help. His Father knows just what to do to fix the truck. And after He lovingly repairs the truck, it will be BETTER than new!

The same is true with us. Although our husbands, our parents, our friends, our children—even our pastors and church families– may “break” us, they can’t fix us. They really can’t. No matter how much they want to.

They simply are not equipped to repair us. But— and like the Sir Mix-a-Lot song, it’s a big but– we have a 100%  guaranteed warranty from our Manufacturer! Our Father is willing to repair all parts of us, and when He restores us, we are actually better than before.

I’m not exaggerating.

Take a look in Deuteronomy—whenever something was damaged, or stolen or ruined, God’s restoration resulted in an increase! You can trust that when you become broken, you can allow God to heal you, and you WILL be better than before!

This is exciting news. But it also dispels something some of us having been subconsciously believing. Sometimes we are waiting for the person who hurt us to apologize, to say they didn’t mean what they said or did, or at the very least that they didn’t intend to hurt us. Sometimes, there are very specific things we want them to say do to “repair” the damage they did to us.

And not only are we (based on sheer odds alone) not likely to get those actions/words or even similar ones, EVEN IF WE DID, those words (or actions) would NOT heal our hurts. These would not REPAIR the damage done to us.

However, just like the broken truck, our Heavenly Father DOES know exactly what will heal us! He does have the capacity and capability to repair, renew and restore us.

Yes, of everything. Broken hearts from broken families, aching wounds from crimes committed against us, even the horrific pain of lives ended too early.

How do we receive that? Spend time alone with Him—pour your heart out to Him. (Psalm 62:8) You can trust Him! Rest quietly with Him. Listen to Him. Do what His Word and His voice direct you to do.

Then as you live your life, understand that while you won’t be protected from all hurts, you can trust that God will never let anything happen to you that He can’t repair, renew and restore. Never.

So, LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY! Go ahead and put your heart into relationships—if (ok, when) they hurt you, God will be able to heal you.

Finally, here’s a wise idea: Keep in close contact with friends who—like you– are living their whole lives in the direction of God, and wisely, reserve the sharing of your most intimate thoughts, desires and emotions—your soul– with these people. While it’s great to enjoy time with other friends, and appreciate how wonderful they are, you’ll find that you’ll naturally discuss and focus on what those you are closest to focus on.

_____

I’d love to come speak to your group or church. You can check out my ‘casts here, and my speaking topics here.

>My Self Image Journey (Self Image pt 3)

>

Welcome to part 3 of this series—the final entry. And actually, if you haven’t read the first two parts, there may be a few things that are confusing… but not too much!

God has spent the past several years carefully walking me through rebuilding my self image. Frankly, parts of the process have been painful, and when faced with a choice, I might well have turned away, and remained as I was. Fortunately, He would rather have me whole, healthy and truly joyful and happy, than have me sitting on my rump in my comfort zone—where I’m not much use to Him, myself or others!

And each time I thought I was finally done, He’d give me a little recovery time, and begin to work on another area. I don’t dare say that I have finally achieved a complete victory, but I know He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in me!

Truthfully, I don’t remember praying for God to give me an excellent self image. Oh. As I typed that, the Holy Spirit began to tickle my memory.

He reminded me of late 2002. My husband and I had just left staff ministry positions at a church we’d been associated with for half of our Christian walk. As can happen, the circumstances we left under were very hurtful.

I remember sobbing in a private corner of our new church, begging God to show me what I’d done wrong, because if I wasn’t the youth pastor’s wife, if I wasn’t a young adult group leader, if I wasn’t a Sunday school teacher, then WHO was I?

Music was playing, and all through the sanctuary people were worshipping. A kindly man I recognized as the pastor came and knelt beside me, telling me he didn’t know me, but that the Lord had a word for me.

What He said to me isn’t significant here, but I have just now realized that my prayer WAS. My prayer was about my self image. “Who am I?”

Well, the Lord spent fully the next year healing me of some wounds I’d received at the former congregation, but sure enough, that following December He began dealing with my self image.

As many works of the Lord do, it started strangely! At least, the works He does in me seem to start that way. The “small group” we had just begun leading was having a Christmas party at our house. As I completely expected, one guest admired my Christmas tree. If that sounds strange, it must be because you haven’t seen how I obsessively decorate that tree. After several years of collecting oversize, shimmering gold ornaments, the only thing more prominent on this tree is the crimson and purple glass balls that are clustered on every available space. (Yes! Touching each other!)

So the conversation turned to Christmas trees, and I commented on how painstakingly I decorated it, squelching my children’s pleas for different colors, and insisting on every ornament conforming to my picture of the perfect tree. (Sounds like a warm and fuzzy Christmas tradition, doesn’t it?)

Then a woman who later became a mentor to me asked why I decorated my tree like that.

I looked at her slightly stunned. Couldn’t she see how beautiful it was? Why in the world would she ask a question like that? I finally replied that I liked the way it looked, and the conversation continued, with others commenting on the colors they had chosen, or decorating traditions in their families.

That night, around 3 am, after having slept for several hours, I woke up out of a sound sleep. God then told me that I decorated my tree like that because I wanted to cultivate an image of excellent and artistic taste. I was performing to achieve compliments and admiration of people, to bolster my self image.

Oh. Yeah, Lord, I guess You’re right. Yay! I can now relax and not base my image on people’s response to how they perceive me! What a great deliverance! Glad you took care of that “image thing” in me, Lord!

The following Spring I attended a women’s retreat my church sponsored. During this retreat, God brought me face to face with my constant obsession with creating a “pulled together” look (image) by planning every outfit and coordinating accessories. Now don’t get me wrong. There is no sin in wearing cute clothes or having great fashion sense.

But FYI, you can know you have a problem when you carefully accessorize your jogging suits and would never, ever jog in them!

My problem lay in being focused on how other people viewed me, and catering to the focus by planning each and every outfit worn in front of any person who wasn’t in my immediate family. That way, I could use other people’s compliments to create my self image. I dressed to achieve an image I admired, to receive other people’s admiration. Look, sometimes we’re not really strong on logic when we’re trying to create a self image!!!

In fact, God showed me that this image obsession was actually what is commonly known as a generational curse: something one of your parents or grandparents had, and one of their parents before them. He clearly showed me I had received this problem and I immediately prayed for deliverance! And He was faithful to do that.

You know, I had never realized how much of my time I spent planning outfits and accessories. It probably sounds silly to you, but it truly was a delicious freedom to not spend time analyzing what outfit would be best, and trying to remember whether I had worn it in front of that particular group within the past few weeks.

Wow! Thanks, Lord. I don’t have to slave over every outfit to create an image of who I am! Glad you’re finally done with that “image thing” in me, Lord! Now I don’t spend more time thinking about what others think of me, than what You think of me!

No, as you suspected, the journey isn’t done yet. A few months later I discovered that something I’d said regarding ministry had been misconstrued by one of my spiritual leaders, and that person’s family. Their anger and disdain was palpable, and truly crushing to me. I was heartbroken, and desperate to win back their approval. I was even willing to consider a critical “word from God” that actually contradicted what God had specifically told me; if my acceptance of that “word” would restore me to their good graces.

Sad, huh?

Again, I was basing my self image on who THEY said I was, rather than who God said I was.

When they were happy with me and praising me, I was satisfied. When they were disappointed, I was struggling to reestablish their satisfaction with me and their affection toward me.

God walked me through that painful episode, showing me when I had first learned to desperately seek approval whenever I was rejected. Do you know that the basis of it was so deeply ingrained in who I was that I had a hard time sharing it with my husband?

God next allowed me to take a brief 3 part course called Designed for Destiny. It consisted of some personality, interest and spiritual gift evaluations. And as strange as it sounds, I felt like the results of those evaluations (gifted in guiding people –through creativity– into deeper relationships with the Lord) gave me “permission” to declare myself to be what God had actually designed me to be. Interestingly, it turned out to be exactly what I had always dreamed of being!

What a journey—all to undo the self image I built through compliments and criticism, and frankly, a little bit of rubble from other people. And you know what? I may not be done yet, but God has declared that He is faithful to finish the good work He began in me!

So let’s hear what you think.

What have you been building your self image with, mostly?

Have you struggled with seeing yourself as the things God has declared you to be?

Do you know much about what God has declared you to be?

What facets of your self image do you struggle with most often, and why?

With whom do you identify most—Mary, Joseph or the shepherds?
Read Part 1.
Read Part 2.

© 2017 A Creative Word

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑