Breaking Free, Day 3
I’m not good enough.
I always mess up.
Things will never get better.
I’m such a coward.
I’m a failure.
I’ll always be broken.
We all place labels on ourselves. In her book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and author, Lysa Terkeurst writes, “Some prisons don’t require bars to keep people locked inside. All it takes is their perception that they belong there. A soul who believes she can’t leave… doesn’t.” Until you acknowledge self-condemning labels, you won’t be able to truly live free.
Now you might be saying, what does this have to do with loving my husband? Excellent question! Until I identified the labels I had been placing on myself, I was unaware of the restrictions they were putting on my marriage. How I view myself affects how I love my husband. Your own self-condemning labels are probably hurting your marriage more than you realize.
I want you to know I don’t have a perfect marriage. I don’t have the perfect sex life. I’m not perfect by any means. None of us are. I’ve placed the label “I’ll always be broken” on myself, accepting all the shame, guilt, and fear that comes with it. Because I have lived with this invisible label all this time, I’ve lacked the confidence to break free.
About a year ago, I attended a women’s retreat. Our speaker called us ladies, who needed to experience God’s physical healing, to come up and be prayed over. I went forward. For the first time in my life, I believed God would heal me. Then I came home, down from a (literal) mountain-top-experience, and expected immediate healing. Yet one year later, I’m still struggling.
I was disappointed and disillusioned. I forgot that God’s timing isn’t my own. I forgot that sometimes God allows continued suffering in our lives for His greater purpose. I’ve wept many times over my health, not just for myself, but for my husband. My heart cries, “God, why? When You’ve given me a husband who has been so patient, gentle, and loving, why would I continue to suffer? It’s not just me that’s suffering anymore. It’s him too. It’s so unfair to him. What good could possibly come out of this?” I’ve called myself ugly, sick, failure, broken beyond repair. I’ve believed these lies over and over again until they became distorted, imprisoning realities.
In mid-October this year, I was reading Unglued and these words gave me new hope: “God doesn’t allow the unglued moments of our lives to happen so we’ll label ourselves and stay stuck. He allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done.”
Suddenly, it dawned on me! I need emotional and spiritual healing too! My tears, frustration, anger, bitterness, and despair have been signs that I’ve needed God to chisel my heart. I wanted answers and expected God to give them to me the way I want to hear them, but that’s not how God works. When He didn’t answer, I doubted He could.
This is a dangerous place to be, ladies. James 1:5-8 says that when you ask for wisdom, you must believe and not doubt, because when you doubt God, you’re tossed about like a wave on the sea, and “such a person can’t expect to receive anything from God.”
The disciple Peter doubted, questioned, acted in anger, and even denied Jesus. Yet this is the same man (formerly “shifty” Simon) whom Jesus calls “the Rock,” the founding father of the church. Jesus saw beyond Peter’s failures, fears, and doubts, and to who he really was.
Jesus does the same thing with each of us. He sees you for who you really are – beyond your failures, fears, and doubts, beyond the labels you put on yourself. No matter how many times you fail and doubt, God’s grace never runs dry.
This is the Gospel Message. Your struggles and sin are not insurmountable. God’s grace is more powerful. Jesus chose to leave His throne on High to come and rescue you so you could live free from condemnation in Him.
- Romans 8:1 (NKJV) “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
- Romans 5:20 (CEV) “Where sin was powerful, God’s grace was even more powerful.”
You don’t have to live in defeat, shame, and guilt anymore. God is bigger and more powerful than your struggle whatever it may be.
God may choose never to heal me physically. I think I’m okay with that. That’s a hard thing to say. Being healed and released from the dark dungeon of lies and labels to live free from fear and shame is more important than being healed from the physical problems that have been boxing in my life.
Dear sister in Christ, you don’t have to believe the Devil’s lies or live under the labels when you’re saturated in God’s truth and covered by His powerful grace.
Today’s 30 Minute Challenge (Nov 3rd): Break Free
I’m borrowing the idea for this challenge from Terkeurst’s participant’s guide for Unglued. [15 minutes] Identify a self-condemning label you’ve placed on yourself that has adversely affected your heart and your marriage. Fill in the blanks for yourself for the following questions. 1) A label that keeps me stuck:
- i.e. I’ll always be broken
2) The reality about this label:
- i.e. Because of sin, we’re all broken in different places (as my dear husband reminded me)
3) The lie about this label:
- i.e. I can never heal.
4) The truth about this label:
- i.e. I’m a daughter of God who is in need of God’s healing.
5) “I chose to view this circumstance as a call to action, not a call to beat myself up mentally.” What action(s) can I take (however big or small) to break free from the labels?
- i.e. I will believe in God’s healing power, both emotionally and physically. I will not be defeated by pain. I’ll keep trying.
6) “What specific strengths do I hope this process of tackling label might build in me?”
- i.e. courage, conviction, and motivation
7) “How are experiences of God’s kindness giving you strength, confidence, or hope?”
- i.e. helping me to see beyond the labels and my failures to who I really am in Christ
[15 mins] Embrace God’s grace, break free, and ask God to show you how to work through the healing with your husband. Spend time in prayer over your marriage. Ask your husband to join you if you’d like. “Where two…are gathered in My Name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18:20
5 Minute Marathon
Write out today’s Bible verse (Isaiah 61:1). Identify a self-condemning label you’ve placed on yourself that has adversely affected your marriage. Today is the day to break free! Believe it! Say it with me! Pray this verse over your life. Claim the victory. Pray that God will help you release this label to Him and live free.
God of all power and healing, all wisdom and strength, You alone deserve praise. Thank You for going before me. I can already claim victory because of Your amazing grace. Lord, I don’t want the negative ways I see myself to prevent me from living fully and loving my husband fully. I release the self-condemning labels I’ve placed on myself to You. I believe You have set me free from the lies. I believe You can heal my heart. Forgive my doubts and my unbelief. Chisel away the areas that need work. Help me to let go. Help me to see myself as You see me – a beautiful new creation in Christ. Amen.
Take It a Step Further
Pick one of the actions you wrote down above in question #5 and do it for yourself and for your husband (i.e. Today I will bless my husband by initiating sex because I believe in my heart that I’m not defined by my problems or Today I will bless my husband by not hurting the woman he loves – me – by putting myself down when I fail or acting like I don’t deserve his love. Instead I will thank him when he compliments me or makes me feel loved.) Take a small active step to defeat those labels and leave them behind.
Share with Us
What self-condemning labels have you been guilty of placing on yourself? How have these affected your marriage? How does today’s Bible verse empower you to break free and help you claim victory over these labels?