THE BATTLE WITHIN

The other day I wrote a post entitled “Fight to Freedom.” Essentially, our fight to freedom begins by taking a long hard look at ourselves. I mentioned that, “Before we can even begin to fight the adversity and opposition that is ready to stand against us in this world, we first have to fight a bigger battle that comes from within.”

One of the battles that we must fight is our own self-image– the way that we view ourselves. We have some of the most negative images and thoughts about ourselves. What’s more disturbing is that we don’t even recognize it. Here’s why:

MISPLACED BLAME

One of the reasons we have difficulty accomplishing things in our lives is because we blame other people. We blame other people for our failures and short comings and we hold other people responsible for the decisions that we make. It makes it difficult to see that our own choices reflect our self-image when we are busy blaming other people.

Choosing to focus on other people’s actions rather than our own prevents us from taking any type of responsibility.

WHO WE BLAME

GOD. One minute we’re “praying” and asking God to change our situations and to “rule in our favor.” When He does, we don’t recognize it as a blessing and we continue on our merry way doing whatever we please and doing the very thing that got us there in the first place. The next time that something doesn’t go our way, we blame God. We say, “This is your fault. You could’ve prevented this!”

DEVIL. “The devil is busy… he’s working.” Well, that may be so, but not with the things that we accuse him of. Sometimes the devil doesn’t need to be busy doing anything because we do enough to ourselves. If the devil is guilty of anything it’s being as evil as he is to the point that people blame him for everything. It’s like having someone in your family that steals and any time something comes up missing, the family thinks that person did it. But what about if you just misplaced it?

PEOPLE AROUND US. “You’re the reason why I’m in this mess.” My favorite. I’m very guilty of this one. Sometimes we don’t have a choice in what happens to us. Things and situations arise unexpectedly at the hands of other people. Then, there are other times when we are fully aware of the situations that we get ourselves into concerning other people and then we look bewildered when things turn out EXACTLY the way that we thought they would. We start blaming the other person for basically being who we knew they were in the first place.

Meanwhile, we’re never anywhere on the list of accusers.

BEING IMPRESSIONABLE

In the Fight to Freedom, I talked about “my other self.” I mentioned briefly the mentality that she had developed as a result of her being “young and impressionable.”

Then, there are times that I sit and think about how my life would’ve been if I hadn’t followed her for so long. If I had not stayed with her. If I had never befriended her in the first place…

But I could almost hardly blame her. She was young and impressionable when she began to believe what the world told her. It became a part of who she was. It became a part of us.

Again, going back to the idea that sometimes we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, things just kind of make their marks upon us or influence our thinking and the choices that we make.

True, I could “almost hardly blame her” for believing what she was taught or what she learned from her experiences, but at some point we have to get past the things that were impressed upon us and begin to take a look at how they have shaped the way that we view things and the way that we think about ourselves.

The Bible puts it this way:

Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

To guard your heart means to protect how you let things effect you. The heart and the mind are connected. Things that effect your heart also effect your thoughts. We behave the way that we do because essentially our thoughts have become our beliefs. Whatever we believe to be true or not true, we act accordingly to that truth. The way that we begin to think about things becomes the guiding force in the decisions that we make.

The things that have effected our “hearts” have determined our choices.

But, if we were never taught to guide our thinking and guard our hearts then of course, it’s very easy to become impressionable and persuaded in our thoughts to believe a certain way.

Yes, situations, incidences, and occurrences have been impressed upon us. People may have said and done things that played a role in shaping our self-image, but we must acknowledge those things and come to a greater understanding of how they have effected us rather than continually placing blame on other people.

Once we begin to take a look at how something has effected us, we can begin the real process of searching our hearts and identifying things that contribute to our overall self-image.

SEARCHING THE HEART

There comes a time when we come to the realization that something isn’t working. I came to that realization a few months ago. I had exhausted every possible idea about why my life wasn’t turning out the way that I wanted it to. That forced me to sincerely ask God, “What is the problem?”

I had been down on myself for being a thirty-one year old college graduate with nothing to show for.

The problem was not that any job or any person would give me a chance. The problem was that I would not give myself a chance.

Sure, I had graduated college. That was certainly an accomplishment. But I felt angry, misguided, and slighted.

Angry because I felt misguided. Misguided because I felt like if my parents would have just helped me hone the gifts they saw in me, I would’ve known what I wanted to do with my life. Slighted because I felt like I had done everything that I was supposed to do, but for some reason, God would not open any doors for me.

I blamed the people around me and I blamed God.

But the truth is, my parents guided me the best way that they knew how. In fact, my mom is the only reason why I went to college. I don’t think I had any desire to go, but my mom said it plain and simple, “You’re going to school.”

God had given me a gift, but I didn’t use it. I had always felt a nudge in a certain direction, but I refused to follow it.

As long as I was only willing to see what everyone else did or didn’t do, I was not in a position to look at myself.

The outlook that I had on life, the way that I viewed myself, the image that I held of myself is that, I would never be able to do what I was passionate about.

There are reasons that lead me to this thinking, instances that occurred that left an impression upon me. Things that people have said that had an effect on what I believed.

These are all stories for another time, but the fact of the matter is that these things helped shape the way that I thought about myself, what I could and could not do and what I thought that I could have.

Again, it takes recognizing the things that have contributed to our overall self-image rather than just placing blame to understand what is truly holding us back.

ASKING GOD FOR HELP

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked: who really knows how bad it is?

But I, the Lord search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people due rewards, according to what their actions deserve. Jeremiah 17: 9-10 (NLT)

We can never truly know our own hearts or what’s in it all on our own. I find that often times I have to sit in a quiet place and allow God to speak to my heart.

I have to open up and pray about what’s really bothering me– about what’s really on my mind and I find that usually what I perceive to be the actual problem, really is something different than what I expected.

He guides me in a series of thoughts that can be traced back to the exact moments of when a situation occurred that had an effect on my thinking and my self-image.

As I begin to talk through it or write about it, God allows me to see myself. It is at that point that I further seek His guidance and directions on where to go from there.

In closing, I believe that if we begin to take the focus and the blame off of other people then we can begin to place ourselves in a position that allows us to see ourselves. Although we may have encountered experiences that left their impression upon us, we have the ability to acknowledge them and how they’ve played a part in shaping our thinking and view of ourselves. We can go to God in prayer and ask Him to allow us to see ourselves, what’s holding us back, and what’s stopping us from reaching our next level.

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