Unfortunately, we can continue on like this for quite some time, believing that things are okay. But it takes a desire to want to live in Truth in order to right things. It takes a readiness to say, “Okay, God, show me the true condition of my heart.”
And this is scarier to do than it seems.
Because once we see it, we can’t ignore it any longer. We have to deal with it. And we may have to deal with the consequences that it has produced over the years. And that can be heart-breaking. But genuine healing is impossible apart from . . . well . . . genuineness. Honesty. Transparency. Truth!
And since God can see all truth and He knows us better than we know ourselves, this has to be done with complete reliance on Him. We have to be committed to seeking His help, to listening to what He says, to facing whatever He reveals, and to obeying whatever He asks us to do. And so this “step” involves asking God for His help in learning to be honest with ourselves and transparent with Him. It takes conscientiousness, introspection . . . and lots of prayer.
Don’t ignore these flags from the Holy Spirit. You may not understand why your spirit has become unsettled, but don’t ignore it. Don’t excuse it with “That’s just the way I am” or “My past made me this way.” If something pops up in your heart or mind (it could be a brief flash or a deep, gnawing feeling), ask God what it means. Spend some time in prayer, following the train-of-thought as the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to truth. Far too often we ignore these nudges or flags in our conscience and refuse to dig deeper. Resist that urge. Because the more you do, the more numb you get to the Holy Spirit.
A lot of us spend our lives running from our conscience and from God’s Truth. We are afraid to stop and see things as they are, to see how far away we have gotten from where we want to be and where God wants us to be. But He pursues, and we feel convicted. And so we have to keep busy, keep running, and cram in as many distractions as we can . . . or else we might hear Him.
If you find your life flying past you . . . if you notice that you spend little time being alone and still with the Lord, in the Bible, in prayer, or just in silent reflection . . . or if you tend to avoid deep, genuine conversations with others . . . it may mean that you are running from something. Ask God for wisdom and insight. And take the time to stop and listen.
If you notice that you get angry or defensive easily (or if others point that out to you), confess it. And then ask God’s help to overcome it and to see where it may be coming from. Also, try to notice the things that you consistently complain about or dislike in others, the things you accuse them of doing to you. This may be a reflection of your shortcomings or sins.
The problem comes when we get angry at ourselves for these “human” kinds of mistakes, but then we lash out at others or beat ourselves up or try to simply stuff the uncomfortable feelings, when we should be exploring what these things say about how we view ourselves or God.
If you find yourself consistently defensive or angry at yourself, spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal truth to you and to give you the strength and wisdom to deal with it. By facing and dealing with these kinds of things, we become free to let God’s love and forgiveness heal us and to live the kind of abundant life He wants us to have.
Yes, it’s important to trust and to shoulder our cross, but genuine trust in God and genuine acceptance of our crosses can’t come until after we have been honest with all the real feelings inside of us. If we try to hide those - even in the name of being a “good Christian” (trying to . . . what? . . . spare God’s feelings? Impress Him?) - then we are being less than honest with God.
And this dishonesty closes off a part of our hearts and lives to Him. And we are cheating ourselves out of letting His comfort and love fill us and heal us. We need to be committed to genuine living before God, even with (especially with) the ugly stuff.
These (along with others) could all be indications that you are not facing something that the Holy Spirit wants you to face, that you are living with distance from God or in lies. And you need to take time with the Bible and the Holy Spirit to talk through these until you see the truth.
We need to be committed to honesty with ourselves and living transparently before God if we are going to grow at all. To live transparently means to realize that we can’t hide anything from Him anyway, no matter how hard we try or how much we polish ourselves up on the outside or “live righteously.” So we may as well admit to Him in prayer all of the thoughts, feelings, fears, and sins that we don’t like to admit.
But God can handle it. He knows it all anyway. He’s just been waiting for us to be honest.
Tell Him what hurts. Tell Him how you really feel about yourself and about Him and about your life. Tell Him what you are really thinking and feeling. That is, after all, the heart of prayer.
And just know that He will accept you and love you no matter what. And as soon as you become honest and begin to talk freely with Him, your heart will become softer and more and more open to Him and to His healing love. And you will be relieved of the burden of feeling like you have to keep up that exhausting false front, being that “good Christian” that you thought you were supposed to be. The one who looks like they have it all together and never struggles with anything.
Okay, now, once we figure out our “modes,” it may be a good idea to understand what has caused us to be the way we are. And this means digging into our pasts and our families-of-origin. Now, this may be too hard for some people to do, if you have a really painful, messy past. And if this is the case, I would recommend finding a good Christian counselor or pastor or a strong, mature Christian friend. Because these kinds of painful thoughts and feelings won’t just go away if they are ignored. They will persist as long as you let them, and they will continue to interfere with your relationships with others, yourself, and the Lord.
Pray and let God know of your desire to see truth, to see what is really in your heart. These Bible verses are excellent prayers for this:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I am tired of living a self-protective, polished, or self-degrading life. I am tired of running from my past or shortcomings, and stuffing my pain and fears. I want to live a life of freedom in You. Help me to see all of the lies that I believe and all of the things in my past that have damaged me and that have hurt my relationship with You and with others. Give me the strength to face them, and the help that I need to replace them with Your love and Your truth. Help me learn to pour out to You what is really in my heart and mind. Because I don’t want to keep any walls up between us. As I open up more of my heart and as I face more of the deeply-embedded pain, be my comfort and heal my hurts. And remind me of Your unconditional love for me. I desperately need that.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
(This is a big one. Take your time and go through these as thoroughly as possible. Some of these might seem redundant, but they will help you see things from slightly different angles to get a more complete view.)
While we can’t change what has been done to us, we are responsible for whether or not we continue to carry it around and let it defeat us. And we are responsible for our reactions to the unfair things that have happened to us and our attitudes towards the people who have wronged us.
God knows what has happened to us. And He has the right to (and He will) avenge all wrongs, because any sin committed against anyone is ultimately a sin against Him. And He has promised to work all things out for good in our lives. But if we will not give the “right to avenge” over to God, we will continue to carry around a self-defeating bitterness. We will continue to make a mess of our lives. And our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical lives will suffer.
But once we become honest with ourselves and God – once we admit that we are responsible for the current condition of our lives, either by our deliberate actions and sins or by wallowing in the results of someone else’s or by refusing to hand it over to Him to let Him heal it and help us through it – we can find healing. And God will be free to create something beautiful with our lives, messes and all.]
1. Find out what God says about honesty, sincerity, and truth in His Word. Verses such as these: