“Happy birthday, dear friend! I’m sorry I didn’t wrap it, but I thought it would be fun to give it to you early. ‘K, gotta run. Love ya! Have a happy birthday!” she said, backing out of my drive.
My body felt paralyzed. The world swirled, and my mouth gaped open as I held my birthday gift: a Coach purse.
I can’t believe she just gave me this! I don’t deserve a gift like this!
Really what I was saying is, “I am not worthy.”
Opening my closet, I couldn’t avoid seeing it. Eight months it hung there, untouched, unused, dangling and waiting to fulfill its purpose.
As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, often I have felt like the Coach purse as it hung in my closet: untouchable, unusable, purposeless, unworthy.
Truth resides in the fact that God touches my heart, uses my voice, and gives me a purpose in Him.
Truth resides in the fact that as a result of the abuse, I still struggle with unworthiness, even though I know that God loves me unconditionally.
Through the book study that I am co-facilitating, two sentences jumped off the page and stung my heart:
“The bad news is that every time you repeat a false belief, you reinforce it. But the good news is that you can choose to repeat a different message” (Shelter From The Storm, 52).
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7
What truth this revealed!
For years I’ve been telling myself how undeserving I am of good things. When people compliment me on something I’ve said or done, I respond with some kind of apology.
Or explain how I could have done better.
Or crack a joke, minimizing the compliment, altogether.
Internalizing the unworthiness I took from the abuse, I reinforced it into my reality. That’s the bad news.
The good news is found through repetition of truth and prayer; the false can be replaced with a truth.
Over time, some of my false beliefs have transformed into truth-beliefs.
But the Lord keeps uncovering one more, one more, one more false belief.
So one at a time, I climb onto the altar to present my body and my mind to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, so that I no longer conform to the patterns of abuse.
By doing so, I can see more clearly what He has for me: His good, pleasing, and perfect will (Ro. 12.1-2).
You might imagine how startled I was this morning when another girlfriend of mine said to me, “My! Don’t you look good!”
“And that handbag looks good on you. Notice that I didn’t say that you look good with that handbag, but that the handbag looks good on you!”
My girlfriend’s compliment startled me. She made me aware of the new truth established within me.
See, nearly two months have passed since I started carrying my new purse.
During those first couple weeks, I felt insecure going to the grocery store, to the bank, to Bible study with my purse. Who am I to carry a Coach purse?!
But I kept carrying it.
Repeatedly carrying the purse allowed the purse to feel like mine.
I no longer heard the self-scorning thoughts like, “Oh, my! Look at that woman! Can you believe that she is carrying that Coach purse!? What a joke!”
Now, what I’ve described here is about a purse.
However, as sexual abuse survivors, many of us think and feel unworthy in far more intimate, soul-reaching matters than just carrying a Coach purse.
Putting one issue at a time on the altar allows Jesus to transform the false into a new truth, a new perspective, a new understanding of ourselves in Him.
Look at the following passage from 1 Peter:
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Did you catch that?
A chosen race.
A royal priesthood.
A holy nation.
A people for God’s own possession.
Now you are the people of God.
You have received mercy.
That’s how God views you and me, as His children.
Making this identity a part of our belief system insists on more than just repetition. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to give us strength to believe, accept, and have confidence in His truth of us.
He has given us His Spirit to guide us into all truth, so that we might point others to Himself.
So that we may no longer conform to the patterns of this world.
Or to the patterns of our abuse history.
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32
What’s your next step?
What area of your life has God, through His Spirit, revealed to you that you think of yourself as unworthy? What truth needs to replace the false belief? When will you ask Him for the courage to trust His Spirit assisting you in this transformational process?
Join me on the healing journey.
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