I Don’t Like You: Part 4 (My Decorated Cage: the Process)

•August 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Decorated Cage

The Lord gave me eyes to see that I was living in a cage and that I had decorated and made myself at home there. When He showed me this, I desperately wanted to run forward, but didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to facilitate moving forward because  I had always existed in the caged area. I was frustrated with myself and I wanted to will myself forward, however this left me exhausted and feeling defeated. I remember laying on the floor for hours telling myself that I would never move forward and I felt like such a loser.

The Cure: His Face

God showed me the cure to my idols and all my issues, which was seeing His face. The knowledge of God is the cure-all. When we look to His face and seek God alone, everything else begins to fall in line and fade away. It makes God God-sized again and out problems their true size: very small and insignificant to a mighty, all-powerful God. Mark Batterson said in his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: “Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small, in fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problems.” So what is the “knowledge of God”? It’s finding out who God is through His Word and letting it reshape your ideas of how majestic and powerful He is. It’s getting that renewed revelation of Him all the time because He can never cease to amaze us.

Baby Steps: The Process

Let’s start with choices. We are creatures made for worship and we will worship something. If you don’t know what you worship, see what you spend your time and mental energy doing and thinking about. That is what you worship.

  • Thoughts
  • Habits
  • Actions
  • Speech

Cover yourself with prayer:

  • Eyes: control yourself and do not visually feast or gaze on anyone or thing accept your God (Job 31:1).
  • Thoughts: be surrendered to the cross (the world says do, the cross says done).
  • Feet: move towards Christ, not towards men (literally follow Him, not that guy down the hall).
  • Hands: work for the Lord and not for men (Col 3:23).
  • Desires: Be for your King and do not be distracted, in the name of Jesus!
  • Flesh: align yourself with the Word of God.
  • Ask for a revelation of God’s grace and love for you.

Think about a baby that is learning to walk. When the baby falls over, do you see the parents rushing over to kick the baby and scream, “Geez! What is your problem? Why can’t you just walk?!” No. That would be absurd. So why do we think our Heavenly Father does that? He knows we are weak because He made us this way. He wants us to be dependent on Him. He is right there with you.

Know that there is no condemnation in Christ (Rom 8:1). What does that even mean? It means we are forgiven and freed when we repent. There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. Don’t shut off conviction or harden your heart to it; that is the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

  • Here’s the difference:
    • Conviction provides a way out.
    • Condemnation provides guilt and beats you down.

Correct Wrong Thinking

  • All emotions stem from your mind and what you think.
  • What you think is what you become.
  • Renewing your mind (Romans 12:2). What does that even mean? It means washing your brain out with God’s Word and cleaning all the dark corners with truth. Letting His truth change the way you think (also see Part 3 for more details on renewing your mind).
  • Fill your mind with truth (God’s Word). What does this mean? It means thinking on what is true. See Philippians 4:8.
  • Binding up the strong man or he will come back with seven more evil forces against you (Matt 12:29). If you just clean out but you don’t fill up with God’s Word, then you will be attacked again and even harder. Fill up with truth and know your identity and authority in Christ.
  • Seek God’s face deeper and deeper and asking for more revelation of the roots of the stronghold.

Identity in Christ

  • Has anyone ever heard this and asked, “What does that even mean?”
  • Believing what and who He says you are, trusting Him to speak truth, and acting accordingly. It’s as simple as that, but its many times the simple things that are the most life changing.

[Continued in Part 5]

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I Don’t Like You: Part 3 (The Fight)

•August 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It was like now that I had seen the idol face to face for what it truly was, the idol went from quiet and concealed to loud and vicious. I would start to become aware and as my thoughts drifted towards a certain man, I would suddenly snap out of it and say, “Wait! You’re not really that guy! You’re lying to me and I know who you truly are!” And as if right out of a horror film, in my mind’s eye I would see that idol reach and peel that guy’s face off itself like a mask and point and laugh maniacally at me because I had been tricked again. I would become so angry and rebuke it in the name of Jesus and it had to go (Mark 16:17).

…Many times just to show up 10 seconds later…

And this is where I had to realize that this would be war. Ongoing, night and day, no breaks or time outs, but a full out war to defeat the stronghold in my life that had plagued me for over 20 years. But the Lord is on my side and greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). During this journey, the Lord revealed some things to me about overcoming idols and strongholds. This is a longer entry, but it will have some practical tips that the Lord taught me if you’re interested in knowing, keep reading.

1. The first step in overcoming the stronghold with the power of Christ is identifying what the idol is. But before you can see, you need eyes to see.

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” –Matthew 13:15

My dear friend once told me that God doesn’t reveal something in your life unless He is ready to heal it. Once the Lord reveals, surrender it to Him. Seek to understand the idol or stronghold through prayer and deliberate observation. Be strategic; know your enemy.

2. Pray:

  • Ask for insight to see where this idol originated.
  • Ask yourself: what lies did I believe to make my brain go down this path?
  • Ask God: Lord, show me the reinforcing habits that run through my daily life in my words, thoughts, and actions.
  • Get on your face, beg for deliverance, and repent for the idol in your life.
  • Seek His face and ask Him for revelation.
  • Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you in your conversations with men and with yourself.
  • Ask the Lord to be your Daddy and guard your heart when you fail.
  • Ask God to change your desires.
  • Find accountability and friends who will tell you the truth.
  • Ask for revelation of your stronghold (You have no because you ask not! James 4, Luke 11:9, 1 John 5:14).
  • Pray for grace and patience.

3. Capture Your Thoughts:

  • What does that look like practically? It means saying no in your mind when you think about your idol. It means saying no to daydreaming and having imaginary conversations or thinking about ways to get near that person. It means asking the Holy Spirit to give you self-control not so you can grit your teeth and “make it” but so you can be consumed with thoughts of the one true God and not a lesser idol.
  • Shut down fantasy world (don’t allow yourself to dwell there).
  • Recognize your daydreaming for what it is: wasting time, not living in the present, which means that you cannot be content (Phil 4:11-13).
  • Sometimes changing your thoughts will feel like turning a massive, rotating wheel the opposite direction. Keep pressing on with the power of Christ and don’t give up. A righteous man falls seven times and gets back up again (Proverbs 24:16).
  • Know that what you think about creates mental highways of thoughts. Your mind will naturally follow this pattern over and over, so don’t get frustrated if things are hard and don’t change immediately. Keep renewing your mind (A.K.A. read the Bible) and ask God to heal your mind. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –Romans 12:2.
  • So what do I think about? Fill your mind with truth. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

4. Changing your Habits

  • Choosing to stop and think through what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What do I think I will get from this? Happiness, content, satisfaction?”
  • Answer yourself honestly.
  • Then go the other way (away from your idol and towards God).
  • Do all of this with a spirit of prayer and open thoughts to the Lord.
    • Open thoughts means to be honest with God and just talk to Him about when you are having a hard time and laying it all open before Him. Example: “God, I just thought about this guy again and tried to find a way to walk by his desk so he would notice me. I want to stop thinking about him and trying to manipulate situations. I know you can help me. Please help, I know you will because you are so faithful and good. You always keep your promises and you promised to complete the good work you started in me (Phil. 1:6). Thank you for being a good God.”
    • Laying the book open and repeating your thoughts to the Lord:
      • Lord, this is what I thought
      • This is what I want to think about
      • I can’t do this alone
      • But you are faithful
      • Help me, I trust you

[Continued in Part 4]

I Don’t Like You: Part 2 (The Living Idol)

•August 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This is where it gets all sorts of interesting, so get comfortable. One seemingly normal day, God dropped the spotlight it. “It” being the idol in my heart. It was if this grotesque creature was lurking around my heart and suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw for the first time. I gasped as I finally saw it for what it really was: a living idol. Horrified, I realized that he had been there for years. Honestly, when I had imagined idols before, I thought of the little wooden tiki men you see in Hawaiian tourist shops. But this was not what I saw now, and it all began to unfold before me.

In this idol, I had wrapped up my hopes and dreams of what I believed the perfect man was. It was who I hoped the man I would marry would be. As I moved through life, this stronghold would attach to certain faces around me and fill in the blanks for what I thought I wanted that person to be. I always wondered how I could “fall in love” so quickly with guys I had just met but I never realized that the idol was feeding me all of the things I thought I wanted to hear and see, but it wasn’t reality; I didn’t even know these guys.

To top it off, the only way I thought that I got over one guy was when another guy would take his place. I should have seen it but I never did. I wasn’t going from guy to guy to guy, instead, I was falling for the same imaginary “perfect” man that I had created for myself and plastered the new guy’s face on. I created my own world and was living there, a trapped prisoner to my own imagination.

Lost in this fantasy world left me feeling disillusioned, rejected, having false highs, unrealistic hopes, disarmed in battle, and in a trance. This world in my mind colored the way I saw life, the way I directed myself and where I was going, and what I followed after. It was a tough pill to swallow, but it was reality.

I was being lied to, but now the idol was exposed and could no longer hide. I was angry and ready for a fight, but so was he.

[continued in Part 3]

I Don’t Like You: Part 1 (Introduction to the Idol)

•August 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

All of my life, I have had a crush on someone. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t, but for me, this was normal, as it was for all of my friends. What’s the problem with that? Well, I was living a lie that was consuming my thoughts. I was giving my time and energy into pursuing something that didn’t exist. I was chasing the air and wearing myself out.

How did I get this way? This all began at a very young age for me. I began to carve out a spot in my heart and mind for my prince and I continuously worshipped the empty throne. I knew my prince would show up someday and ever since I was five years old, I was ready for him. It wasn’t until I finally landed my first boyfriend at seventeen years old that I began to give away everything. In this empty throne room, I had stored up my hopes, dreams, ambitions, and gifts for him, and when I finally found him, the storehouses were unleashed and I relinquished everything.

It’s a funny thing when we look back on relationships and we wonder how we got to the place where we gave our hearts away so quickly, but the truth is that we began giving pieces of ourselves away a long time ago when we started hoarding from God and storing up in anticipation for a man who we believed would be our answer and fill our void. With this in mind, it is easier to see how we give away our hearts so quickly and can only muster the response “I don’t know how it happened.” Through this process of holding back ourselves from God and putting our deepest desires for happiness in men, we cheaply give away the gifts God has given us for a shot at conditional love. We sell our beauty to the highest bidder and in this process, we are always shortchanged.

During this time, I felt like the metal ball on the pinball machine… just rolling around and never being able to drop into a hole, never being able to find a place of peace and a home because I was looking for it in men and academics and not in God. I felt like a wanderer. I couldn’t find where I belonged.

Finally, I realized that this wasn’t a quick fix. It was a process and a life change. Are you ready to commit? Either way, keep reading.

[continued in Part 2]