Pain: we all have it and we all deal with it differently. We live in a fallen world. God never promised that we wouldn’t have trials.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” – John 16:33
Coming from my blog post this week we talk about “Knocking on Death’s Doors’’—i.e. self-destruction. Self-destruction is a way of sabotaging, destroying or harming one self that leads to more pain–which leads a viscous cycle. It’s not something we set out to do on purpose. Speaking for myself I believe it is stemmed from a combination of a lack of self-esteem, self worth, and a deep-seated pain that I didn’t know what to do with. We internalize it, and eventually manifests through harming ourselves.
Addiction to: food, money, exercise, sex, alcohol, drugs, etc., are ways of coping and escaping to avoid uncomfortable feelings. The pain is too hard too feel, so we cover it with habits and patterns that don’t benefit us. It is not something a person sets out to do one day, but somehow it is meeting a need, other wise we would just stop.
Often times, there is something that can trigger our pain and produce depression, anxiety, fear, panic, and feeling abandoned.
I know when I was younger I picked up self-destructive habits and patterns as a way to distract me from painful life circumstances. Looking back it’s clear that I needed the unconditional love of God, and a desire to feel confident in my own skin. That’s why it is vital to surround yourself with people that love you for you. Recognizing our hurt and pain is the first step. Everything starts in our mind and what we focus on magnifies. The good news is that there are ways to deal with life, pain, and heartache that won’t hurt ourselves or others, but rather begin the healing process.
First of all, the only way we can recognize lies, is knowing the word of God. It is our sword to combat the lies of the enemy. (“You’re never going to be successful, you’re fat, you’re ugly, your not talented in anything, you’ll never find a spouse, you’re a terrible parent” etc.). You get the picture.
Before we spiral out of control, which leads to depression, anxiety or addiction, we need to catch the thoughts and be proactive in replacing them. If we are paralyzed so much that we don’t know where to start, seek help immediately!! There are so many amazing groups and therapists in local churches that help with divorce, addiction, grief, depression etc. Bring the dark to light. Often times we need to release the pain so it doesn’t have a chance to manifest. The awful thing about self destruction is that is doesn’t give you a solution. The habit can give us a mental break from the stressors in life, but once we fall again we feel just as bad, if not worse because now we wake up with shame and feeling like we will never get out of the rut, and thus the cycle continues.
Another thing that has helped me get out of the rut of self destruction is to focus on what is going right in my life and to be completely transparent . We don’t realize how much is going right until we write it down. We are our own worst critics, and if we truly have the full revelation of how much God loves us, and are able to receive his love then we are headed in the right direction. Ann Voskamp does a great job of this in her book and study “One Thousand Gifts” (and blog). Check it out. When we focus on the beauty and joy and blessings, it makes the challenges dull in comparison.
That’s my challenge to you this week: To try and acknowledge and praise God for the blessings in your life. Start writing them down. Replace the self-destructive thoughts with praise…