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“Dying to Self” Can Be Dangerously Misunderstood

Last Thursday, I ran a post about “Dying to Self.” Today, I want to talk about how it is possible for someone to misunderstand the concept of “taking up your cross and following” Jesus to think that this means, “I must take abuse. My needs don’t matter. I have to let my husband beat me or abuse my children. I have to be a doormat.”

That is NOT what this concept is about. It is not about giving up our personhood or being a punching bag. It is also NOT about hurting ourselves or beating ourselves up. It is about seeking God’s will above our own. It is about knowing who we are in Jesus and knowing and receiving ALL He has done for us on the cross and through His resurrection. It is about living in a place of great spiritual strength in Christ, not a place of spiritual weakness.

There are different kinds of suffering in this life.

  • The suffering that happens because we are in a fallen world.
  • The suffering that happens due to our own sin.
  • The suffering we experience due to others’ sin against us.
  • The suffering that comes because we voluntarily do what is right.
  • The suffering that comes because God is disciplining us.

God calls us to lay aside our old sinful nature and live for Him. My old sinful self is no longer to be on the throne of my heart. Jesus is now my Master. So when I talk about “dying to self” I am talking primarily about suffering I experience because I decide to live for Christ as LORD no matter what the cost. It is about self-sacrifice in a way that brings honor and glory to God. It is not suffering for the sake of suffering. It is not suffering because I just have to sit and take abuse if I have the ability to leave. It is suffering for the sake of doing God’s will. If this doesn’t make sense, let me know and let’s talk about this some more. 🙂

There may be times when a believer is persecuted and may suffer for the Gospel by being imprisoned, by losing his/her job, or by being physically punished. That kind of suffering may be inevitable. But suffering at the hands of an abusive spouse or self-abuse is something that we can rightly seek to avoid. Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified because that was God’s will to bring about salvation. Other times when people tried to kill Him, He slipped away.

NOTE:

There can be confusion about this idea of dying to self, or the concepts that are like it in Scripture. One reason I think this happens is that from God’s perspective, we are already dead and crucified in Christ. We are already dead to this world and alive to God through Jesus. To Him, that happened 2000 years ago on the cross. It is a done deal sealed by the finished work of Jesus on the cross. He did EVERYTHING necessary to make us right with God. We have already been justified. To be justified means that Jesus completely paid our sin debt in full. It is an accounting term.

But then, there are also all of these commands about us participating in this process on a daily basis as we follow Jesus. So we are involved in “picking up our cross,” “putting to death the misdeeds of the body,” and making ourselves “living sacrifices” for God moment by moment. It is a continual mindset of surrender of self and yielding to the Lordship of Christ. Yes, this is the process of sanctification which continues for our lifetimes until we reach heaven. 🙂 It is that process of learning to live out and experience all that Jesus has done for us in our daily lives.

We absolutely must guard against a works-based salvation. We are all prone to want to go to that in our pride – to think that we can somehow earn what Jesus did for us on the cross ourselves. But we cannot!

The ONLY way we can have power and victory over sin is through the power of God’s Spirit working in us. We don’t have power in our own sinful flesh to do this.

From an Anonymous Wife:

Because I come from a background with a lot of out-of-control sin from adult authorities, I had a very distorted understanding of the meanings of things. And then coming to church and hearing blanket statements made as if everyone had the same lexicon made it even more confusing for me. “Dying to self” was one of those things that really frightened and terrorized me a bit.

When you live with abuse, your very self is being attacked as if its somehow wrong for you to live and exist and as if there is nothing good about you. You are being told all the time that you are bad, worthless, etc.

Then I get to church and hear the self being talked about as if its a bad thing too. It was years before my reasoning skills and theological understanding developed enough for me to even understand what was being talked about, so I couldn’t even articulate my difficulties for a long time! I thought God agreed with the abuse I suffered because of that and that my feelings about it were irrelevant to Him because they were part of self! Worse, I met Christians who actually thought that way. Now, hoping I indeed have gotten it, lol, here is what I think it means.

How I understand this now is that when Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, He is not talking about systematically trying to annihilate anything that is us. He is more likely talking about the self that is part of the sinful nature, the flesh.

It can also include our will when what we want is contrary to what God wants. But it does not mean that the person you are as far as your unique identity or personality equipment as God designed it,is what needs to die. I like animals and art and living in the country. That is not bad, its part of who I am as a person. There is no sin in it, of itself.

However, if God was calling me to move to an inner city neighborhood where he wanted me to reach out to homeless youth, and I said to him ” No, I don’t want to leave my farm and my wholesome environment, then that would be an example of denying myself for His sake. If I have a tendency to gossip or am bitter and unforgiving towards someone that would be an aspect of my flesh that God wants me to deal with by putting it to death on the cross.

Yes, He is referring to that we are dead and we count ourselves dead to our sinful old nature, our flesh, and to this world. But we are alive to God in Christ. We have a new self that is glorious, blessed, beloved, cherished, valuable, precious, and beautiful in Christ. It is so important that we know what “self” we are to die to and what it means to take up our cross.

 

By The Satisfied Wife:

April,
I think you are right on in what you shared about this. And something else hit me as I read this comment. In my experience, because I was mistreated for so long, and suffered in that sense for getting involved with the wrong kinds of men, and not having a strong father figure in my life, I became completely self-reliant and independent, with a heart hardened to the harsh realities of life. And in being mistreated and developing that independent spirit, looking back I see actually how selfish I became. That sounds wrong, but hear me out if you can 🙂

Because I was mistreated and grew up mistreated, and did not develop a healthy self-worth, and developed that desire in my heart to be loved and wanted and all those idols that are attached to that desire—-it actually made me self-centered. All I cared about was what I wanted, what I needed, what I wasn’t getting from this guy or my father or whoever. My husband pointed this out to me a long time ago, really right after we got married, he saw how selfish I was and how focused I was on having my needs met in the marriage. And because my needs and expectations weren’t getting met the way I wanted them (with the never ending black hole heart), I was disrespectful, complaining, negative, argumentative, controlling, etc.

That’s what happens when we are mistreated in life, as a young woman, we become fearful and controlling because we feel the need to protect ourselves because we have not been treated right. We become independent and self-reliant.

So when God led me to Himself, and revealed Christ in my heart—— that was one of the first things He showed me. He led me to read the book “Not a Fan”, and it was all about dying to self and following Christ. I remember how eye-opening that was for me, because my selfishness was exposed.

And as the years have gone by, He has continued to lead me to the true meaning of dying to self and following Christ, by leading me to your blog, and to the book captivating— and now I see all the pieces put together to this puzzle for me.

He has shown me that in reaction to the way I was mistreated by my own father and men in my life, my heart grew very cold and I became even more selfish. I was living in self-protection mode which entails controlling and fear for my whole life really. All I cared about was myself, honestly. I wanted what I wanted.

I’m not saying it’s ok for anyone to treat someone wrongly. But what I am saying is that, I had an even more challenging time learning how to die to self because of being mistreated and having developed a very independent self-reliant spirit that was highly selfish. I looked at everything my husband did through the lens of my wounded, selfish heart, instead of through Christ and the Cross. I had no idea that my wounded heart was behind all of the control, fear, and disrespect. I didn’t realize that wounded heart was behind a lot of the conflicts in marriage. It was harder for me to “let go” of control and all the fear and self-protection and it was hard to learn to truly trust God and surrender all to Christ. But once He opened my eyes, holding onto those things seemed like garbage compared to surrendering all to Him as Lord and having His peace and rest in my heart!

Now that I know who I am in Christ, and who my husband is in Christ, I have a hard time focusing on the things he does wrong. Letting go of myself and my own personal interests has been the way of finding true Life!

From Peacefulwife:

This process of dying to self can also be described in other ways, too, like:

  • being a living sacrifice for God (Rom. 12:1)
  • putting to death the misdeeds of the body (Rom. 8:13)
  • counting yourself as dead to sin and this world and alive to God through Christ (Rom. 6:11)

Taking up my cross is about laying down any sinful motives and about picking up God’s will. So I would allow God to search my heart for things like selfishness, greed, bitterness, idolatry, resentment, hatred, unforgiveness, malice, gossip, addictions, etc… things that are spiritually toxic to my soul, my relationships, and my walk with Christ – and I would reject those things and allow God’s Spirit to completely fill me with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

It is not only about getting rid of the sin that was in me before. It is also about receiving all of the good that God wants to give to me and the new self He provides for me.

There are some who have been  abused and mistreated who do not believe they are worthy to receive God’s love. Truthfully, none of us are “worthy” to receive God’s love. But God loves us because that is who He is and His love is available to each of us. We CAN receive His love, not because we deserve to, but because He freely gives it!

For those who have a hard time receiving good things from God, I invite you to check out this post by Radiant about Cinderella and the Gospel. I also encourage wives who have been abused and who are confused about dying to self to search and read some of these posts as well:

Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Townsend may be helpful in this kind of situation where there is significant emotional/verbal abuse.

Nina Roesner has an e-course that may be a huge blessing for wives in emotionally/verbally abusive marriages and very difficult marriages – “Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity”

I believe we must find spiritual healing and wholeness in Christ FIRST before we learn how to “lose our life” for Christ or “put to death the misdeeds of the body,” or “be a living sacrifice” for God or “die to our old sinful self” in a healthy way.

NOTE:
I do want to mention – this is something we each choose to do ourselves. It is not appropriate for me to demand that another believer needs to “die to self” to do what I want him/her to do. I can’t force others to obey God. I can set a godly example. I can ask for what I need and desire. I can share my insights and perspective. But I don’t get to control other people or dictate to them what they should do.

My husband should be living wholeheartedly for Christ and leading and loving as Jesus did, laying down his life for me to portray the love of Christ. But it is not my place to say, “You need to die to yourself and do X, Y, and Z to lead me properly.” It is possible for me to try to manipulate my husband, or other believers, in this way, for my own selfish purposes.

SHARE:

If God has given you lightbulb moments about this concept, please share! If you are struggling with this idea, let’s talk about it together.

Much love to each of you!

April

34 thoughts on ““Dying to Self” Can Be Dangerously Misunderstood

  1. Bless you dear April fr your incredible, lifesaving ministry and to all the beautiful souls who are sharing these wonderful gifts wiith others. I pray that every one of you is blessed and your efforts bear fruit that will transform not only your lives but the lives of those around you. I am so blessed to have found this blog and community. Nowhere else are these vital topics explored with such depth, clarity and love. May we each die to Christ a little more every day. I am a long way off but this blog and your efforts keep me focused. A huge hug from my heart!

    1. hopeoflife,

      I’m so thankful that this is a blessing to you. It’s my desire that we dig deeply into these critical discussions so that we can apply God’s truth and healing to our daily lives and become the women He calls us to be more and more each day.

      Much love to you! 🙂

      1. Dear Satisfied Wife,

        How do you deal with your father now? Your story of a wounded heart which sought to protect itself by trying to be in control is my story, too. I have prayed over the years to forgive my father for his distance, silence, and sometimes cruelty. Also, for my mother’s injuries toward me. I really do just want to be loving to them and not always have my emotional barriers up so they can’t hurt me any more. I know that perfect love casts out all fear. Thank you for any advice.

        1. Renee,
          Honestly, the only way that things have gotten better is by God’s grace alone. And distance.

          When I got married and moved away from my parents, I was finally able to separate myself from them (not that they were horrible), and I was able to really stand my ground and stand up to their lack of boundaries (they helped me raise my son and thought they had a say over it all the time what I did with my son and life). They learned that I have boundaries and that they really have no say over what I do with my life.

          The distance that me getting married created honestly led my parents both to seek the Lord. It led my father to realize that he had mistreated me and he was sorry for it. He changed his attitude towards me after I was no longer there. He knew that in order for me to ever visit with my son, he needed to refrain from trying to tell me what to do with my life and son and he had to treat me, my son, and my mother right, or I would not come there anymore.

          It was all about boundaries I guess!

          Also, my father was being disciplined in his own life by the Lord about some things, and ever since that happened, he has truly been changing. He has had to face his own choices in life and suffer the consequences for them.

          Now, I have compassion towards him because I know that he was not raised right, either. He has his own baggage” in life. It doesn’t excuse anything. But it is a way to see it for what its worth, and with eyes of compassion instead of any unforgiveness etc.

          Holding onto that won’t do anything but hurt you!

          My dad was “distant” but controlling at the same time, if that even makes sense. He was always “there” telling me what to do, but he never knew me. He wasn’t interested in my life, except to control it because of his own fear about life and things. He was harsh in a lot of ways. And he was unloving.

          I wrote my father a letter after I got married to let him know I was sorry for all the wrong I did towards him over the years, and asked him to forgive me. I to this day don’t know if he read it or what he thought of it. But all I do know is the change I’ve seen in my family and my dad especially towards me and everyone over the past couple years!

          I hope this helps! 🙂

          Love,
          Amanda

          1. Thank you, Amanda. It sounds like God has really done a work in your family’s life, and I’m guessing He’s not done yet! Please pray for me as I want to be strong and loving at the same time…letting go of old injuries and living in the present. Thank you for sharing your heart and experiences.

            1. Renee,
              God is able to do anything!! Letting go of hurts is the way of the Cross, and as you let go, and the Cross is applied to your heart and life, there will be all the more room for the increase of Christ in you, sister!!!

              Praying for Christ to be fully formed in you, and all of us!!!!

              You are most welcome!

              Blessings,
              Amanda

  2. Hi April,

    How do we reconcile this with “turn the other cheek”? On the surface, it sounds like “turn the other cheek” could mean “don’t stick up for yourself,” but now I’m wondering – does it actually mean “don’t repay evil with evil”?

    In Christ,
    Flower

  3. Just a Little Sheep,

    Wow! That was some Christlike love the woman showed her neighbor. How amazing to think that God might use us in a similar way to bring someone to Christ. 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing! I think this is an important discussion, too!

  4. I really like that example…I think the turning the other cheek concept is exactly that… blessing someone that is actively sinning against us on top of the sinning is so powerful to the recipient, because he is expecting us to retaliate, which in turn will justify his action… when we instead, go out of our way to do good instead, it not only contrasts his sin, but the kindness might pierce through his heart so much more powerfully, because it is the ultimate gift! (like God’s gift of our redemption through Christ).

    I know from personal experience, that when I bless my husband after he has obviously been mean and sinful, his heart almost can’t take it, because he sees the contrast so much bigger! It is like shining a light onto the darkness, without saying a word!

    Thank you for this great discussion, April…

    Have a blessed day, everyone!

    1. A Lifetime Learner,

      Yes, when we repay evil with good, it is extremely convicting many times to the one who wronged us. It shows their evil in sharp contrast to the good we have done to them and may be used by God to draw them to repentance.

      Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 Love these insights!

      So glad we can have this important conversation.

      Much love!
      April

  5. I’m glad you clarified the turning the other cheek. I’ve known Christians who thought they were not Christians if they left a really abusive situation. I mean people that got beat so bad bones were broken.

    1. Modest Christian,
      That is HEARTBREAKING!!!! 🙁 I don’t want anyone to stay in a dangerous situation if they can get out safely. I want men, women, and children to be safe. We should be the SAFEST in our own families and in our own homes! Here is a post about that.

  6. April, lately I have been thinking about Corrie Ten Boom and also about another story I heard that really has provoked me to doing some spiritual digging. I may have mentioned this before, if so forgive me. My mind is bit overloaded right now. Anyhow, I remembered Corrie’s story of the prison camp and how her sister Betsie, weak and emaciated from malnourishment, being worked to death and being ill, responded to the cruel taunting of a sadistic female guard – one that the prisoners called “the snake” behind her back. The guard had been ridiculing Betsie for her weakness and inability to even carry a full shovel full of dirt. Betsie responded good naturedly which seem to sting the guard to fury even more. So she lashed Betsie viciously with her crop, causing Betsie’s chest and neck area to bleed, soaking her blouse with her own blood. Corrie, witnessing this injustice to her precious sister, went to take her shovel and put an end to this vicious, hateful woman, who had already turned away, so meaningless was Betsie’s life to her. Betsie grabbed her and stopped her, saying ” No hate, Corrie, no hate”! Betsie actually saved their lives this way, as she and Corrie would likely have been sent to the gas chamber or shot for rising against a guard.

    I wondered how on earth Betsie could be so able to love and avoid hatred in the face of such overwhelming, sadistic cruelty. The guards in that camp did things that were calculated to emotionally destroy the prisoners like putting the bodies of dead relatives beneath the pine trees at Christmas time. Yet, after witnessing the same guard beating a mentally limited girl for her inability to understand something, Betsie commented to Corrie that one day she would like to have a home for people like her to come to. Corrie thought she meant the disabled girl but Betsie meant the hardened, sadistic guard. Modern day thinkers would have a field day with this, pointing out that perhaps Betsie was “trauma bonded” to her captors and suffering some form of Stockholm sydrome. I suppose it is a possibility, given the extremity of their situation. But I also think that perhaps Betsie and other Christians like her knew Jesus in a way we moderns don’t. Perhaps their brand of faith was different. There is much valid discussion today on how the gospel has been watered down and God “rebranded” to suit modern sensibilities. Perhaps it is like the movie “The Matrix”, all around us, unseen, invisible and yet exerting an influence on our thinking and feeling we don’t even realize is there, so persistent has been the erosion of truth.

    Another story I read was equally harsh. It occurred in Poland during the war. The book I read was shocking and frankly horrifying, because it portrayed the grossest stories of how absolute power corrupts absolutely, although it was a Christian book written by someone who had been there and found Jesus. One account was of a girl who was walking home through a forested area, along a path and was accosted by a group of young men who took turns raping her. When they were done violating her, they tossed her aside into the swampy peat bog next to the pathway. They had beaten her badly and so left her for dead. However, she managed to struggle to her feet and make her way home. Her church had been praying for revival and for God to save souls. A few weeks later, these same young men appeared in the doorway of her church. She was the first to rise and go greet them, inviting them in. I was astounded by this. If that were me, I would be consumed with all manner of toxic emotions including hatred. I would be asking the police to round them up and put them in prison. (not saying that charging rapists with a crime is wrong, just saying that I would be so hurt, angry and vengeful that I’d be not too concerned over their souls and not too enthused if they showed up at my church) Forgiving them would, as it is for many moderns today, be a life long struggle. I do not know if the police were involved or if they were so corrupted at that time there was no point in speaking to them and I do not know what happened after that, as I don’t think much more was said about the matter. It did make me wonder and think that one would have to know Jesus in a far deeper way than I do, to respond like that. I don’t think it is just a matter of choosing, either because you can choose all you want to in an attempt to do what you think an obedient Christian should do, without managing to actually have the love of God and the mercy of God towards an evil person. There must be more to it than just force of will bootstrapping it. I can’t help wondering if perhaps we moderns are rather wrapped up in this world, whilst for those who were bereft of all the comforts of normal society and facing imminent death, God’s kingdom was much more in view.

    In the Ten Boom’s case, they were in a situation they could not leave in when in the death camps. Prior to that when they were free, they actively engaged in resisting evil, hiding Jewish folks from the germans, feeding and helping them to escape, rescuing them. They even staged a robbery of a german station with a friend who worked there, so they could acquire ration cards that would allow jewish people to get food without having to expose their ethnicity. They were aggressive, cunning and recklessly trusting in God to carry out this mercy ministry and outwit the forceful evil of the german’s hate machine, because they believed in the value of human life, so obviously they did not take the view that they had to just submit. As long as they could resist they did.

    Just the same, I cannot help but wonder about what is different about the quality of their faith and their walk with the Lord that made them able to forgive serious atrocities and even love their captors and expend time and resources ministering to them. I believe this is very relevant to the discussion of walking with God and dealing with self and feel my heart pulled in two directions at once. I sure wouldn’t want to miss knowing Jesus the way they did. I wonder if you are thinking on these things also and could share where you feel God speaking or leading?

    1. Just a Little Sheep,

      Wow.
      Thank you for sharing these stories. SO heartbreaking and yet, so inspiring and convicting to watch women of God respond in the power of God in extremely dangerous and difficult situations.

      I believe that we, in the West today, have been quite contaminated by the world and by lies from the enemy. I think we have been caught up with earthly things and are spiritually often extremely weak. Those who face genuine persecution cannot help but grow in their faith – and those who don’t grow in their faith quickly fall away. I believe much more intense persecution is coming for us in America in the next few years. This may actually help to cleanse us of our sin and unbelief as we realize how desperately we must depend on Christ.

      I pray that God might continue to prune and refine us, to deepen our faith, that we might (by His power) rise to become a holy generation that leaves a godly legacy to those who come behind us. May God give us great faith and make us fruitful for His kingdom and His glory!

      Much love!

  7. Thank you April. This is what I am thinking too, that it has to be because we are too comfortable in the world and do not know it. I think that myself, I have unwitting found myself living for God IF He allows me to have this or that thing that I didn`t get growing up, or IF He supports my dreams, IF it goes my way. That is a deep root to try and kill, this root of self will and I will be god myself. Pray that I succeed because it is really hard to go against yourself when all your deepest feelings, ideals and dreams are tied up in the things you want. I have gotten really off track into sin related to idolatry and lulled to sleep. I am seeking God yet again and asking for Him to show me Jesus`value. I pray that isn`t an offensive statement. I Know in my head why this is so, but knowing it on a deeply impacting level that changes your whole focus of life is needful. This is a great discussion that I value a lot, if only because at least here the truth of the situation can be discussed. I have found many churches are so sure everything is fine and so certain that even if other churches maybe are backslidden they are a wonderful church, that there is no willingness to actually see how that is not so and in fact sin and idolatry are commonplace and not dealt with. Anyhow thank you for allowing me and others to engage on such serious things.

    1. just a little sheep,

      If you need help with tearing out idols, I have a number of resources. That is something from which we must flee! It will destroy us. As I am sure you know.

      I’m here if you want to talk through things. I will do all I can to point you to Christ, my sister!

      Praying for you to lay down every desire but Jesus and to be willing to yield in absolute surrender to Him.

      Much love!
      April

  8. Little sheep,

    Reading your comment … you might turn it around, and ask yourself what you have gained by being deprived of things, while growing up… and really dig deep into “if you would get all those things, would you be satisfied?” because ultimately there can NEVER be enough THINGS, to stuff that hole… because it isn’t about filling that hole with things, but allowing Him to fill us up and have that hole overflowing with his love and goodness.

    Refocus on what you have, when you feel that burning yearning and redirect it into something good you can do for someone else that has even less than you have… then you will start to feel the hole getting fed…

    Just something that jumped out at me, reading your comment… have a wonderful day…

    A Lifetime Learner

  9. Great points. This goes pretty untalked about in Christian circles, so I’m glad to see someone like you taking a stand and very thoughtfully, scripturally making such a valid point. We tend to go to extremes, even though that’s not what Scripture teaches.

    1. Rachel,

      It is so easy to misunderstand sometimes. So I wanted to be sure we talked about that – I don’t want anyone to be confused about this! 🙂

  10. Hello Lifetime Learner;
    That is an interesting question; could you elaborate on what sorts of gains you might be thinking of?

  11. Lifetime Learner,

    I was re reading my comment and see where the idea of things came from. My comment about things one didn`t get in childhood wasn`t about material things or possessions; is that what you were thinking of? The things I was referring to were things like being loved, safe, secure, or having parents that thought you were worth their time and worth investing in; a stable home full of love instead of fear, that sort of stuff.

    The only material things that would have made a difference would have been having proper winter boots and clothing; we lived in an inland northern climate that was sub zero in the winter, and my dad didn`t want to spend much money on clothing we would grow out of in a year so he bought us cheap stuff from K-Mart that was suitable for warmer coastal regions. Consequently, I often walked home in tears because my feet were freezing and going numb. We weren`t well off but weren`t so poor either that we went without food or couldn`t have birthday or Christmas gifts, we just didn`t have money for extra stuff like expensive brand name clothing that some of the well-off kids had. But we were outdoors all the time and had a lot of fun ice skating on the frozen over gravel roads and had to use our imaginations a lot.

    The one physical thing I wanted was a horse, which I actually have now in my adult life. I would never think that having horses would give you righteousness or eternal life and that kind of thing, but God certainly seems to have built something good and healing into them, just touching a horse on a bad day has the effect of reconnecting me with what`s real and good, raw creation.

    If anything I would like to live in an off-grid log cabin with a front porch which would fit into my house about four times, and live a simple life. I have found owning lots of stuff a pain because you have to maintain it for one thing and even if its just sitting there you still have to dust it, take care of it, insure it, etc. Growing up in a frightening and insecure environment has certainly given me some mercy and understanding for others who have suffered and are having struggles in their lives.

    Thanks for asking good questions.

    1. Hi, Just a Little Sheep

      Yes, I wasn’t only referring to material things, but what your last paragraph referred to… unfortunately we cannot choose our family growing up, and our circumstances that come with that, and I didn’t want you to think in any way, that I was judging you “wanting stuff”, but I heard that deep yearning in your writing, that compelled me to respond… what I have learned is, that regardless of our circumstances, we can learn from things, good or bad…it just depends on our perspective and our attitude towards what happens… growing up in such a state of deprivation of basic human love and acceptance, you can easily fall into a state of despair and victimhood, or you can gain special insight and use that insight to ensure that what you share with the world will be the exact opposite of what you have experienced. And even though it is hard to imagine, maybe even develop compassion toward the people that have inflicted such pain, because they learned their behavior from someone else, too.

      I am very fortunate to live surrounded by horses, dogs, and a variety of other animals, and I completely agree…God blessed us with animals to share a special kind of love. Horses have an uncanny ability to reflect our state of mind, and remind us of our responsibility to be kind and gentle, and they are such great teachers. I teach kids how to ride, and I never tire to see their joy and sense of accomplishment as well as their growth in disciplining themselves, to become more sensitive and compassionate in their handling of the animal.

      God fullfilled your dream of horse ownership…he knows your deepest thoughts and desires. Last Sunday our pastor said something quite profound: when something bad happens to us we quickly cry out “Why, God?” but what we really should ask is “What do you want me to learn, God?”, because his ultimate goal is, to refine and shape us into better and better people, that will be transformed and become closer and closer aligned with Him. The road is not easy, and hardship and pain are unfortunately part of that pruning process (actually a very necessary part), but our willingness to walk beside Him and trust His judgement so much more than our own, is what ultimately blesses us richly, and frees us up to worry less and trust more.

      I hope I helped clear up what I was thinking… feel free to comment further… happy riding!

      Love, A Lifetime Learner

      1. Hi again Lifetime, yes I understand more clearly now what you were saying. Great to talk to a fellow horse person. I’m amazed at how fine tuned the horses are to my every mood and frame of mind. Mine are not broken to ride yet but I still enjoy their `horse magic“. . We have formed the natural horse bond through round penning work but that`s as far as its been taken at the moment. Maybe one day I will get at least one of them to let me up on their back.

        1. Hi,

          Yes, the more join up and ground work you do the better… be precise in your voice commands and ask for precision…make them do what you ask just by positioning… then work on forward, backward, sideways etc…. stop and go… etc….are they mustangs? I worked with them…they are amazing…they see you blink and eye…great teachers!!

          Have fun working with your horses… if you have any questions, you can email me@ btrpets@hotmail.com

          1. I have one paint mare and one quarter horse mare. I haven`t done much with them because of some other things in my life that have taken precedence. However they sure know I am their person and come running at the sound of my voice. I will email you some questions when I have some time, right now we are doing a huge clean out of our basement and garage.

  12. just a little sheep,

    That is what our pastor says many times – that God will give us grace to handle persecution or martyrdom when the time comes.

  13. Oh! And here is a post by Radiant that is such a blessing to me:

    Being A Trophy Wife Is Not the Goal, Dear Sisters

    I pray for God’s wisdom and discernment for you to help you see your hidden motives and for wisdom about if this is something that is medically necessary and truly beneficial or whether this is something about which to be content in Christ.

    Much love!

  14. PS, should clarify that when I said the notice of other men is not on the table for the believing woman,. I meant that intentionally trying to get the attention of other men is not something a believing woman should have as a goal or a barometer of her worth or beauty. Men will notice us and we will notice them as a matter of course, but that`s different from intentionally trying to allure the opposite sex.

  15. I do want to mention – this is something we each choose to do ourselves. It is not appropriate for me to demand that another believer needs to “die to self” to do what I want him/her to do. I can’t force others to obey God. I can set a godly example. I can ask for what I need and desire. I can share my insights and perspective. But I don’t get to control other people or dictate to them what they should do.

    My husband should be living wholeheartedly for Christ and leading and loving as Jesus did, laying down his life for me to portray the love of Christ. But it is not my place to say, “You need to die to yourself and do X, Y, and Z to lead me properly.” It is possible for me to try to manipulate my husband, or other believers, in this way, for my own selfish purposes.

  16. THIS (what I am about to share) is the kind of freedom from fear I would like for you to have and that is available as you yield fully to Christ as LORD of your thoughts and of everything in your life… Shared on another post this week by a husband who is definitely facing his deepest fears right now, but instead of living in fear like he was 6 months ago, he is living in the power of God’s Spirit now. He is a TOTALLY different man.

    ———-
    Hello my good friends. I want to drop by again to praise my saviour for His peace. To encourage you to trust Him with all you are!

    I am just loving walking with Him 🙂 Walking without fear is so, so, so, so good. I am waking up in the morning happy, with a smile on my heart. I meet my saviour in prayer and worship each morning. His mercies are renewed every day. I wish I could grab this peace and put it into all of your hearts!!

    The storms feel so small in the light of His power. How have I not seen this before? Why do we doubt the infinite power of God when we see His power displayed all around us through creation? My friends are commenting on how peaceful I am…….God is good. HIS light is shining, not mine. Rest is good. I am no longer driven to achieve to earn any favour from Him or from people. I steadily work at the task in front of me for His glory and know that I am secure regardless. I am enjoying my friendships with people so much more.

    The storms that have hit since I got home have continued to grow. The impact of them is spreading, rippling all around me. The clouds are dark and the wind is strong. But, I have this calm certainty that the storms in my HEART are over. They just aren’t there anymore. My heart is ‘different’ for want of a better word. I can’t explain it properly. I have a peace that is just awesome. And it isn’t leaving. A situation rises and I feel that old fear begin to move and I CONSCIOUSLY look to Christ and the fear just melts away in the light of the cross. That, is where everything centres. It is awesome 🙂 It is addictive. I wanna walk with God forever. I don’t have to know tomorrow because I know my God. These idols are gone and I don’t want them back.

    And, as these storms are rolling in DW has commented on how calm I am through them. She has said that several times since I came back. The way the Lord has enabled me to respond to these storms is an absolute testimony to His grace. And, I feel it is having some fruit. She is reaching out through these storms….

    …….in fact, we had dinner together Friday night for the first time in 7 months. And talked a couple hours after. Then tonight, she rang again to talk and asked me over. We watched a movie together and talked for a few hours. She was so open and honest. Things she said would have filled me with fear in the past, but I had zero fear and God’s peace just flowed through me. There is no need for fear because my heart is not held in her hands, it is held in God’s. And He will never let it go. In our conversation I saw her heart, exposed and raw, vulnerable, facing some of her sin, sharing some of her fear and I loved her heart. I accepted exactly who she was and where she was at with no expectations and she knew it. God is GOOD. In Christ all our needs are met and we can truly love with agape love. Christ frees us to minister because He makes us whole.

    Friends, trust the saviour. You have seen me on this blog walk through fear, pain, rejection and a separation. You have shared some of my struggles through what I wrote. Through it all, even when I couldn’t see it, God was working to bring good. Not the good of a reunion (yet) or a perfect marriage (yet) but the good of a heart that has a peace not possible without God’s strength. That, is the treasure worth having.

    God can fill you with a peace that your husband simply can….not….give….you. Trust Him.

    I married as a controlling man, enmeshed and dependent on an insecure woman. I became a weak and insecure man dependent on a hard woman. Now, I am a strong, secure man, full of the love of Christ and able to give from that heart. God….is….good!

    1. What an incredible tesimony, thank you for sharing and huge blessings to you and all who sail with you!

  17. Wow! What an incredible example of total surrender! Very inspiring! Talking about beauty out of ashes…
    I love the analogy of the sharks… how true that is… the more we get closer to Him, the more the enemy tries to distract and hold us captive in our fears and insecurities to keep us from fully surrendering leadership to Him, and Him alone.

    Very powerful ! Thank you so much for such an incredible example of faithfulness!

    Blessed to be part of this!

    A Lifelong Learner

    1. So glad this story was a blessing to others. It sure blesses me every time I read it – beyond words!

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