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