God has made it very clear in his word how he sees us. Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.The old has gone, the new is here.” God sees us as a new creation. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God created us for a purpose. John 15:15 tells us that God calls us his friends. 2 Timothy 1:17 assures us that we are given the power over fear. I could go on and on.
But no matter how many times I hear those words and read those verses, I struggle to see myself that way. And when I don’t see myself like God does, I don’t act like the person God created me to be. I don’t see myself as fearfully and wonderfully made, so I don’t walk with confident humility. I struggle to see myself as a new creation, because my old self is more familiar. I don’t always understand or know my purpose, so I tend to stumble in my own ways. I can’t really grasp what it means to be a friend of God, so at times I keep him at an arm’s length. Most of the time I am scared, I don’t feel like I have power over fear, so I chose to be timid when God has called me to be brave.
Can you imagine how different life would be if we actually saw ourselves like God does? And if we, as a result, acted like we are beloved, brave and purposeful? I believe that if we did, the world would be a very different place.
So how do we do that? How do we start to see ourselves as God sees us?
First we need to learn how to identify the lies that we believe about ourselves.
As one growing up in the church, I have heard countless sermons about how important it is to not believe the lies of Satan. I have heard powerful messages about how Satan can easily convince us that we aren’t good enough or that we don’t measure up. I’m a fairly confident person, so I didn’t always identify with those struggles. Because of that, I wrongly assumed I must not believe any lies. As I got older, I realized how wrong I was. I believe in plenty of lies, mine are just packaged a little differently.
Mine sound a little like this. “You will always be anxious, no matter how much you try.” “You have missed your calling because you have allowed your trauma to guide your decisions.” “Change is too hard.” “You are not a good parent because your daughter is anxious”. I don’t think it would take long for any of us to identify a few lies we have internalized.
How about these, do any of them sound familiar?
-I have to be strong, because men are strong.
-I was made this way, that must mean I cannot change
-I can’t do this, it is too scary.
-I do everything right, why doesn’t anything go my way?
Lies can also come in a package that looks a lot like the truth. What we need to remember is that anything that is SLIGHTLY contrary to what God’s word says – IS A LIE! And unfortunately often times these lies come to us from the most godly people we know.
I was struck by a story a friend told me recently. Her husband had just been fired from his job. It was super shady and very discouraging. Both of them felt like he was called to take the job. And then suddenly – he was fired. Afterwards, he went out with a group of Christian friends. As they tried to console him they said really nice things like, “I’m so sorry man. You deserve a break.” “Yeah, you should just move on and throw the towel in.” “That just wasn’t right!.” They were doing their best to console him. But what struck me the most was what my friend shared with me afterwards. She said, “Not one of them asked what he felt like God was telling him to do or where he thought God was moving in the midst of the struggle”. The things said to him were really nice and were well intended. There are times when we need to throw in the towel and move on — if that is what God is calling us to do. But nowhere in God’s word does it say we deserve a break. And life is not fair. We are called to obedience and sacrifice – no matter what the cost.
What if my friend’s husband heard those words from his friends and internalized them. And started to believe that “yes” he did deserve a break. It wasn’t fair and now it was time to move on. That type of thinking over time leads to an entitlement posture towards God and others. Trust me, I’ve been there. Over time you develop a victim mentality. You start to believe that you are a victim. But that is the complete opposite of who God says we are. We are not victims, we are more than conquerors. When we believe we are a victim, we act like one. When we believe that we are more than conquerors, we tend to act like that too.
What we believe about ourselves guides our actions and ultimately our impact. When we stop seeing ourselves as God does, we sideline ourselves. We step out of the event God has created us to play an impactful role in.
We will continue this conversation next week. In the meantime I encourage you to start by increasing your awareness. What is your behavior telling you about how you feel about yourself? If you pause and examine your thoughts, do they line up with what God has to say about you?
Take a few notes and then let’s meet again here next week. Next time we are going to explore where we find our identity and how that can keep us from seeing ourselves as God does.