Still wondering why we tend to not follow through with resolutions? Check out my first two posts on how feelings of unworthiness about our physical appearance, and our value to others, including God at Resolutions: Walking Worthy, Pt . 1 and Resolutions: Walking Worthy, Part 2. In the final post in the series we’ll dive into how hidden sin, or issues we don't deal with prevent us from keeping our resolutions.
Sometimes problems that weigh us down emotionally make it hard to commit to what it will take to make positive changes in our lives. Some problems can seem so large we feel we can never overcome them, or we begin to see them as sins that can never be forgiven by other people, or even by God. We try to ignore those problems, or cover them up and resolve to improve some other area of our lives. And there’s the problem— if we are overwhelmed by things we’d rather hide than overcome, how can we possibly succeed at those resolutions? In my case being overweight brought on feelings of hurt that I was not dealing with, so I would make the token effort to lose weight each January. But it never worked. I mean, I was too deep in my sea of pain and too busy trying to hide it to keep up the effort to lose weight. And because I couldn’t lose the weight, I continued to feel worse about myself, even to the point where I did not feel I had the right to change.
Now, by hidden sin and issues, I mean the things that only you and God know. I am talking about the sins and issues we convince ourselves it's "not appropriate" to seek prayer or help for. Like, it is ok to ask for prayer because you are sick, or if you need patience with your children, or when you and your husband are fighting a little. But how willing would you be to to ask for prayer or seek help with a spouse who is verbally or physically abusing you? Or would you be eager to tell your family or friends that you are not able to feed your family because you're declaring bankruptcy, and after bills you have $30 to last the week? Would you share that you are depressed, or addicted to pornography, alcohol or drugs, even to get help? How about if after just having a baby you are not exactly feeling like a loving mom. As Christians we say, “Of course people could ask for prayer for those things!" I mean, all you need to do is get over your ego and ask for help, right? But from personal experience with a few of those issues, I can say it is hard to ask for prayer for things that are embarrassing or things that we think our family, friends, or sisters in Christ would think are problems we could help ourselves out of. Really, if your spouse is hurting you, you leave, right? If you have a drug problem, go to rehab. Out of embarrassment we convince ourselves that we should be able to handle it; what do I need prayer or help for?
I have suffered from depression in the past that not many people know about. I was even able to hide a lot of it from my own husband. I could have asked for prayer, but I felt like as a Christian I should not feel depression. I should just trust God and get over it. Worse, I felt that if I went to someone in my church they would think that I was not a "good" Christian. What if my pastor found out? He might not want me to work with the kids in the church. At one point that was one of the only times I was happy. I could not take the chance. So I silently trudged along.
I had a friend who dealt with postpartum depression. She finally broke down and cried one day, telling me all this stuff that was going on. You see, like me she had had problems conceiving and had several miscarriages. When she finally had a baby everyone was so happy, except for her. She was miserable beyond the, "I'm a new mom, who’s scared and tired and miserable.” She found herself not even realizing when the baby was crying. Most days she couldn’t wait for her husband to come home and take the baby so she did not have to look at her child. She suffered like this for months, but everyone thought she was a happy, healthy new mom. Because so many people prayed for her to have a baby, she thought those same people would be disgusted if they knew how she was feeling. I finally convinced her to talk to her husband—who had no clue she was suffering—and get help.
My friend has several children now and is truly happy, but her story and mine are examples of how people can hide deep hurts and feel unworthy of the help they need to get beyond them. We resolve to change surface problems so we can feel normal, like we’re working on something. But because we’re hiding deeper hurts and problems, we feel unworthy of other's love, unworthy of God's love, unworthy of loving ourselves. We then give up on changing even the surface things, feeling we are knee deep in quicksand and there is seemingly no escape.
It helps to realize that sometimes we cannot do it on our own. I now realize I needed God’s help to really deal with my problems, but I also need to rely on my close family and Christian sisters. Notice I used the word “close” when describing people to rely on. I did not just suddenly go around telling all my deep dark secrets to anyone who would listen. It’s important to find one or two people you know will not judge you to share you secrets with who will give you godly wisdom. In the bible, James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." Those are some strong words—powerful and effective. The bible promises that if we do what God commands we WILL be healed.
So where to start? It takes courage, but first, we must humble ourselves to reveal embarrassing things about ourselves and our lives, or more serious problems like abuse and addiction. It helps to ask God to send the right people into our lives; people who can help and pray and give godly insight. I did not start blogging about my issues until I had dealt with several by opening up to a few trusted people in my life. I took the chance that they would encourage and support me instead of look down on me. It was even one of those women who encouraged me to share my issues by writing about my life. It has been hard, but so worth it.
Finally, instead of hanging on to reasons for not following through, consider adopting some new beliefs that have helped me, and that I hope can help you move past feelings of unworthiness. First, let this be the year that you accept that God's unconditional love is flowing over you. He is waiting to hear from you and He wants a relationship with you. He considers you worthy of that relationship.
Then, know that you are worthy just the way you are. No matter what you look like, you are a treasure and you bring something special to the people in your life.
Finally, find someone you trust and can open up to. Get the help you need, consider finding someone who can offer prayer and spiritual support.
So dig deep. What issues in your life are you keeping hidden? What sins do you need to confess? Who in your life can you ask for sound advice and prayer? What is the first step you are going to take to resolve those issues?
We’ll move on from discussing resolutions in the next post, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and successes. We’re in it together.