Disclaimer: This devotional is not a substitute or replacement for your regular therapy or mental health. If it causes flashbacks or distress, see a mental health professional right away. I am not licensed to counsel or give therapy of any kind nor is this devotional an attempt to do so. The contents and suggestions in this devotional are ones of personal experience of my own and are not meant to be professional advice or therapy.
Isaiah 32: 17
“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever.”
I have struggled with peace within myself all my life. Good enough, measure up. My perception of self has always been negative, have to do more, etc. Never able to relax, self-rejecting, unable to find a place of acceptance within myself. Even when I heard God accepted me and I believe, it’s still a struggle to be at peace. Why? Why? Not sure but seeking Him. The more I see of Him and that it’s okay to struggle with the things I do or when I understand we’re all broken and in need, it makes me rest. It lets me know it’s okay or not so much that it’s okay but that He gets it. He’s aware and He’s got it. He’s redeeming all those dark ugly places in us all and we can relax because He is doing the work.
Felt at peace today. In worship with everyone. Felt okay – felt good in my own skin. Felt peaceful, settled, confident but not arrogant; confident just okay to be me. Strange peace like security, secure, safe, sure but not proving, just peace sweet peace. No need to prove or be seen, or see, or have or talk or anything like that…. just secure. Is this what secure feels like? It feels like safe, soft, comfort, joy, restful, quiet, still, like a rock, like a shelter, like a promise. No movement in me or outside me – no need to fix or make right or be right or explain or speak or anything. I wish I could find the right word to describe this feeling. Content with me, equal to others, same worth.
As I read back over that journal entry, I am taken back to that day. I was in a service in my church, no longer serving in worship ministry, but just a regular person. A broken person. Quiet and at peace with my life and myself. I have not felt that kind of peace since that day. I’ve come close, but I believe that day was sovereign in that God was confirming His love and acceptance of me in a very tangible way and I tried desperately to describe it in that entry, but just couldn’t. It was something I felt that was “other than” any peace I had known in my life.
Except for one place, in childhood. I’m not thinking about the stress you experience as a child when you go to school or get in trouble. I’m talking about the peace that comes when you push the screen door open on a spring day and run out into the open air with your arms flailing and your skirt twirling! No thought about who you are and what you should do. You just “be”. I recall my childhood and that I never once had a thought about who I was or where my place was in the world, I just lived.
Of course, when I became a teenager, that changed as I came into more of a realization of myself and more, what others thought of me. But in early childhood, I don’t recall ever struggling with my self-worth in the context that I have as an adult. I don’t know why.
And in that thought, I think about what Jesus said about being converted as a little child to enter the Kingdom of God. I imagine that is what he meant.
Free! Free from pretense, judgment, condemnation, just being! And doing it without self-rejection. This is our end goal in the Beautiful You Project…wholeness. Not perfection! But redeemed from all that held us captive!
Last week, we stepped out into the light. We allowed the Word and the Spirit of God to illuminate the areas that were hidden in us. The unbelief, shame, bitterness and other things that were holding not only our hearts but our lives captive.
When those things are revealed and we finally admit them, we may experience shame and pain that we’ve allowed those things to take over our lives, relationships and the ways we relate in the world. Don’t condemn yourself for that, but as you confess, repent and forsake those ways, there comes a refreshing from the Lord.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Revel in this refreshing and allow it! Don’t deprive yourself- you’ve forsaken that behavior-but give yourself permission to receive freedom and goodness. Yes, you have to permit yourself because so much of your life has been to prevent it due to abuse and self-punishment. You have stepped out of that prison. Don’t return!!!
Take out your journal and list all the ways you can receive freedom and goodness into your life and heart. Maybe it’s financial. Maybe it’s relational. Perhaps it’s in the way you talk to yourself. You might not think it’s necessary but when you’ve been riddled with guilt and shame, you won’t let in freedom or blessing because you don’t believe you deserve it. Those days are over and you have to write these things down and then DO THEM!!!
Writing them down is important, yes, but they won’t do you any good sitting on a page, you have to put them into action. That’s what STEPPING INTO FREEDOM is all about….TAKING ACTION! I don’t know who penned the phrase, “Nothing changes until something changes” but it’s so true. Change is an action word. And sometimes you’ll feel like it, but the truth is, most times you won’t. You just have to DO IT! The feelings come after.
So make your list and really think about it and delve into every way you can receive freedom and goodness. For example: When someone pays you a compliment, don’t deflect it like you normally would, simply say “thank you” and then LET IT IN! Let it bless you!!! It’s so good for your soul!
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.