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“I Can’t Ask for Things. I Shouldn’t Have Needs, Desires, or Emotions” – by Radiant

 

From a very dear friend and sister in Christ whom God has radically healed physically and spiritually in the past year and a half. For decades, Radiant could not receive love from God, herself or from anyone and was imprisoned physically, spiritually, and emotionally. How I praise God for what He is doing in her life! This sister’s issues were often the opposite of my issues – and help to provide a much needed different perspective from my own.

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About the post, “Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!” – I totally thought like the wife who had objections to speaking in direct, vulnerable ways my whole life.

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS:

This way of thinking makes us a victim and voiceless, then we freak out  on someone when they put that teeny straw on top of our huge anger that we aren’t allowed to admit, or have, or own, or do anything about. And it makes us jealous of wives who “have because they ask,” annoyed that they are so unapologetically “demanding” as we see it. My old way of thinking was about “righteously” refusing to have needs, emotions, demands.

It makes you really sick! Emotionally, physically and spiritually. To receive nothing good and only receive bad truly makes us toxic.

Why can’t we receive good? I think it’s this false humility stronghold that simultaneously says we don’t deserve anything good, while somehow at the same time being proud at how humble and un-needy we are. Then it’s about being a victim because no one understands how hard our life is. I felt I should have enough faith to be above struggles and emotions myself, even though I would never say anyone else should be. I was always the first one to comfort hurting people because I knew the pain of trying to go through things alone, and felt no one should ever have to do that (except me!). Part of it is the idea that “everyone else is more important than you, it’s in the Bible.” So being humble is not needing or asking or demanding. That’s for others.

If someone said good things about us, they are obviously lying or have a distorted perception or are just being nice, since the only thing that can be true is self-attack. That has been the only voice I have ever really believed – and I saw so much evidence to verify it – that it had to be true. And I was so used to that voice. I always thought that maybe if I criticized myself enough, then hopefully no one else would need to. While I was at it, I could feel extra guilty and not enjoy anything, and help God out with the punishments I knew I deserved. If someone did criticize me, I was a complete failure and had nowhere to stand, and collapsed inconsolably. There was no grace. No hope. Only trying again as hard as I could, knowing I would fail again.

People’s approval seems to be the only gauge of hope, but then we don’t receive it either. Nothing is ever enough.

So all time is spent trying not to need, trying to meet all others needs, trying not to mess up, attacking self with every mistake, guilt fear and failure. Trying to find life in dead works, which puts you under a curse. All this rule following and no joy or good results. Baseline – it is unbelief. Hebrew 4. No one can enter His rest if we hear the truth, but it is not mixed with faith.

My old way of thinking:

  • It’s saying Jesus saved me so I should be able to obey all of His commandments in my own strength.
  • It’s trying to please God without faith. Hebrew 11:6 says you can’t do that.
  • It’s trying to please God by obeying without believing anything He says, receiving anything but the most anemic salvation, (and believing Jesus did it reluctantly – that he had to), not receiving His love, grace, forgiveness, power, mercy. Having no idea all of the good qualities mentioned about Him could somehow be directed to include you, too. Imagining being on the very fringe of heaven, not included.
  • It’s also being totally blocked by anyone who disagrees or says, “no,” to you, but not ever being allowed to say, “no,” or your dislikes to them.
  • It’s remembering what caused someone to be upset at all, and making an inner vow to never mess up or cause a problem again. (These inner vows curse us, trying to save ourselves in our own strength).
  • It’s not believing anyone could ever enjoy your company or love you because you don’t feel it, so it can’t be true.
  • The biggest fears are being a burden, a failure, and demanding.
  • The only “truth” you hear are these accusing lies and and it somehow intertwines itself into the gospel to make it a non-gospel. You buy into it completely.

Idols, or strongholds, in this mindset are false humility and martyrdom.

Faith is scarce in this way of thinking. We believe Jesus did die to save us, and that we can be saved, but we don’t see His grace or promises or healing or forgiveness or that He truly desires us. And even then, we can grow in faith, be set free from quite a few things, and fall right back into this prison. Behind the false humility is immense pride – pride, saving ourselves, and being wise in our own eyes. Pride that we are following rules, astonishment when we can’t follow rules; that we weren’t successful since we should be. We are Christians! How can we fail God like this? So we attack and punish ourselves trying to help God with His disappointment in us. We try harder. Until we can’t try literally. Then we sink into depression and can’t be pulled out.
Faith is the ability to receive from God. So we cry out and try to serve and love Him and repent and feel guilty, but we don’t actually exchange that guilt for forgiveness.

  • We cry to him that we feel alone and unloved and abandoned but we don’t receive that He really is here with us and will never leave us.
  • We complain to him that we can’t do what he asks us to, and basically say He is mean and cruel for not helping us, but we won’t receive His help.
  • We don’t believe he will help so we don’t ask.
  • And when we do ask we are full of doubt and therefore don’t receive, and validate to ourselves that He doesn’t care.
  • We are proud that we don’t burden God or others.
  • We aren’t rude and don’t ask for stuff.
  • We are busy getting things done for God and praying for people and trying hard to follow our rules.

Until we fall apart. Then we are angry at God, ourselves and everyone around us except we can’t be angry, so this awful feeling stays general, unknowable and unfixable  and is more evidence of how God has abandoned us.

The mindset of false humility and not receiving and Jesus’ response:

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
John 13:6-10 ESV

RELATED:

Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!

I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs. That Is the Godly Thing to Do.

What Does God Say about Me?

My Identity and Security Are in Christ Alone!

Trying to Find Security in All the Wrong Places

Being a Trophy Wife is Not the Goal, My Dear Sisters! – by Radiant

Being a Trophy Wife is Not the Goal, My Dear Sisters! – by Radiant

 

 

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I came from a background of focusing on what my husband should change for me. So it can be helpful for me to focus on what I can change to bless my husband in a healthy way – not an obsessed or idolatrous way. For instance, I learned that it’s great to seek to dress nicely and take good care of myself to show respect for myself and to bless my husband. But not all women are from the same background. Some wives have spent their whole marriage trying to change themselves for their husband – to an unhealthy degree. That is a problem, too!

We can seek to bless our husbands, but we are not responsible FOR them or their sin. I hope that makes sense! Ultimately this is all about us seeking to please God alone.

Here is what a dear sister in Christ shared – and has given me permission to share. She used to believe she had to be a “trophy wife” and when she approached some Christian books, she thought she was hearing that message reinforced. But we are not trophies! We are not to be idols or objects to our husbands. We are human beings with innate worth in Christ! Sometimes, certain women are very sensitive to triggers about a wife having to perform to be accepted. I think this wife’s approach may be a great blessing to many who struggle with balancing messages in the area of dealing with husbands being visual and having temptations, etc…

FROM A SISTER IN CHRIST:

Some Christian studies on marriage can tempt us to feel responsible for our husbands sin, our marriage, to stay together, and a whole lot of performance on our part to make sure he is never tempted and we are always enough for him. The problem is we are never pretty enough, exciting enough or wonderful enough to hold our marriages together. Our husbands could still sin even if we were.

So we need the truth – We are not going to be enough to keep our husbands faithful or keep them from sin. We are not their Savior. Their sin issues were there before we were in their lives.

  • Only God can set them free from lust or anything else.
  • Only God can set us free from fear, worry, and “performancing.”

I am already beautiful in Christ and I need to be filled up with His love and truth about me. Only Christ is enough for my husband. If he is focused on Christ, Jesus is enough for him. So the answer for my husband to be free – is Christ. I can pray for him. And the answer for me to be free – is Christ.

I don’t have to be a victim – worried about my husband’s sin or potential to sin.

I can grow with Christ in any circumstance including one where my husband is sinning. My hope, joy, and identity is in Christ, not my husband or myself being perfect. I don’t have to pressure myself and feel constant guilt and fear to perform or he will leave me. I can rest in Christ’s love and grace for me and for my marriage and husband. I don’t have to worry about the future and what-ifs. I can enjoy my husband and think of intimacy and beauty as a good gift from God rather than a heavy, impossible duty I will never be good enough at (a lie from Satan).

Rather than be fearful and jealous, (Beth Moore said jealousy and fear has never won back a wandering husband) and looking at my lack, I can look at all the good already in my husband, all the love and blessings Christ has already given me, and the hope that God is fighting for me and my marriage. I am not the Holy Spirit and I can quit trying to police my husband and be free to give him respect and to pray for him. I can listen to God and stay out of His way if my husband does need convicting.

Sometimes my husband isn’t even struggling and it is just me being paranoid that is the problem! I need to ask for God’s wisdom, and not try to figure out what is right in my own eyes.

RELATED:

A Book Review – Through a Man’s Eyes by Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross

Could Your Husband Be Trapped in Shame?

People Pleasing

Perfectionism

My Security and Identity is In Christ Alone!

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Posts about Husbands’ Porn Use

I Am Responsible for Myself Spiritually

Are We Responsible for Our Spouse’s Happiness?

Unhealthy VS Healthy Relationships

 

“I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs. That’s the Godly Thing to Do.”

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I would like to address some more concerns a wife shared in response to my post about how we can be vulnerable and direct about our needs.

First, and this is critical:

Our sharing our feelings does require a delicate balance.

BALANCE

We can go too far one way or the other and make a big mess. If I share every single thought that enters my mind and don’t have any kind of filter for my motives or for sin – I will hurt others. I do need to have God’s wisdom, discernment, love, and compassion firmly in place before I share. I need to take my thoughts captive and not share sinful thoughts.

But I can also go too far the other way and share nothing. I can become completely unknowable and give up using any of my God-given influence in my family and in God’s kingdom. I can become an island – incapable of receiving. That is also unhealthy and destructive in all of my relationships – including my relationship with God. I end up full of self and devoid of God’s Spirit.

AVOIDING CONFLICT

Avoiding conflict can seem like a very noble, godly thing. Wouldn’t it be godly to try to prevent conflicts and tension and to try to keep everyone happy? “Blessed are the peacemakers” right? I mean – Jesus, Himself, said that! Why not scramble around trying to be extra nice to other people, bending over backwards, to try to keep them from getting angry at you at all costs? Doesn’t that sound like the loving thing to do?

I used to think so!

God does command us to love others and it’s great to head off unnecessary conflict when possible – but our motives are to be to please Him and to bless other people. Our motives are not to be:

  • to get people to like us
  • to have the approval of people/the world
  • to make things easier for us
  • to get what we selfishly want
  • to keep from facing constructive criticism/rebukes
  • to avoid necessary friction and conflict
  • fear of people’s anger or disapproval
  • guilt
  • false humility, playing the martyr, or self-righteousness (the root of which is always pride)
  • peace at all costs

If my thinking is, “I can’t let anyone ever be upset with me,” I am saying that I believe I am responsible for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of other people. Is that true? No! I am responsible for myself – other people are responsible for their own emotions, thoughts, feelings, and actions.  (Please check out this post on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships for more detail.)

I might achieve a “temporary false peace” by avoiding addressing sin – but ultimately – allowing sin to continue on and on without a loving, respectful rebuke leads to destruction of the relationship.

I don’t want us to be afraid of negative emotions, or conflict. We are all human. We will all have a full range of emotions in various situations. Unless we are in actual danger – we don’t have to fear anyone’s negative feelings. Feelings are important, yes. But they are not Scripture. They are not God. They are not sovereign.

Instead of our being terrified at the thought of someone being unhappy with us – we can recognize that negative emotions are simply a signal that we need to investigate and see if something is wrong. Sometimes our feelings are incorrect. Sometimes they lie to us. When this happens, we can ignore the feelings after we thoroughly and prayerfully investigate. Sometimes our feelings are accurate and are important flags to warn us of a problem – like sin. Sometimes emotions tell us we need to eat or take a nap or have some time with God. Sometimes other people’s feelings are a method God will use to refine us. Other times other people’s feelings reveal sin or a need in their own hearts.

What comes out of a person’s mouth is about his/her character, not necessarily an accurate reflection on us. We don’t need to receive words from others that are not of God.

I can approach my husband humbly – willing to take responsibility for any sins on my part, willing to make amends, and willing to extend grace. I can listen to what my husband says and prayerfully consider whether I need to make any changes in God’s eyes. But I am not responsible for his sin or his obedience to God. If what he says is from the flesh and the enemy or twists God’s Word, I don’t need to absorb that. If what he says lines up with the Bible, then I can receive that word.

PEOPLE PLEASING

Let’s talk about some of the ideas about people-pleasing this wife shared in her objections to speaking directly and vulnerably about our needs, emotions, desires, and concerns:

  • People may get upset.
  • You will be judged.
  • You will look weak.
  • You’ll sound selfish and demanding.

Thankfully, we are no longer slaves to the opinions or approval of others when we are in Christ! Only God’s approval matters ultimately! Jesus is LORD.

Here is what Scripture has to say about people pleasing:

  • Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
  • for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. John 12:43
  • You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
  • I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4
  • Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! Acts 5:29
  • But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT CONFLICT?

There are times when conflict is unavoidable – even necessary and good – like when we need to confront sin. God gives us instructions about how to handle conflict without sinning. But He does not condemn conflict itself or tell us to do anything we can to make other people like us and to make them happy with us in the moment.

  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-19,21

Note that we have some level of control over conflict vs. peace with others. But we don’t have total control. We only control our end of things.

Jesus experienced a great deal of opposition and conflict. How did He handle it?

  • Did He cower and run to try to patch things up with the Pharisees who accused Him of blasphemy?
  • Did He try to placate the Pharisees to get them to like Him and want to be with Him? He called them “a brood of vipers,” “hypocrites,” and “blind guides.”
  • Was Jesus most interested in avoiding conflict with His enemies or was He most interested in doing God’s will and exalting God?

If you really read how Jesus interacted with those who opposed Him, He was not wimpy, tail-between-His-legs, sniveling, afraid of people, and “nice” in the sense we describe “nice” today. He was firm, unflinching, and bold. He called sin what it was. He did not apologize. He responded with righteous anger when that was appropriate. And yet, He was loving in the midst of it. He did what was right – not what was easiest or most politically correct. He humbly went to the cross because that was God’s will for Him and He loved God – not because He couldn’t stand up for Himself. 

Jesus wasn’t troubled by what people thought about Him – even when they totally misunderstood Him. His concern was what God thought about Him. He said things that ran a lot of people off for which He did not apologize. Things like,

  • “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
  • “Go sell all you have and give to the poor… then come and follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).  
  • He even talked about that people would need to eat His flesh and drink His blood or they have no life in them (John 6:53) – after that, many people stopped following Him. He was fine with that. How? He was able to be fine with them leaving because He knew that God would bring certain people to Him for eternal life and other people would not belong to Him. He accepted that. He never begged anyone to follow Him. He never ran after those who rejected Him, trying to get them to change their minds or trying to make them like Him.

CONFIDENCE IN CONFLICT

(If you are in danger in your marriage, please reach out for help when you safely can do so – www.thehotline.org, call the police, or a trusted counselor.) I don’t want us to fear conflict in normal relationships. I used to be terrified of conflict myself – but after the healing God has done in my own marriage and after over 37,000 comments on this blog alone in the past 4 years, I have seen what a powerful tool conflict can be in the hands of God to accomplish amazing things!

Conflict is often a platform God gives us to bring great glory to Himself! Our godly, Spirit-filled response during conflict can draw people to Christ in powerful ways like nothing else can.

The key to our ability to have confidence is that God’s Spirit must be in charge – not our flesh. If our sinful flesh is in control, we will make a big mess and hurt other people (and ourselves) in destructive ways. If God’s Spirit is in charge, He will take the conflict and use it to help us share His truth in love. It may even result in people being convicted of sin and may lead to healing, spiritual growth, and greater maturity. I have also seen conflict result in people coming to Christ!

  • Conflict sharpens and prunes us.
  • It helps us draw closer to others when approached in a healthy way.
  • It helps us understand others better when we seek to understand their different viewpoints and perspectives.
  • It can reveal sin in our lives and in the lives of others.
  • It is a necessary part of intimacy between imperfect people and it can lead to great good.

Usually, there is fear, ungodly thinking, or pain behind someone else’s anger. Look for their heart message. Address those deep fears or unhealthy ways of thinking as God leads you to. If you can address what is behind the emotions and negative feelings – the person may find healing in Christ.

Note – conflict does not have to mean yelling, violence, rage, contention, division, hatred, and bitterness. Conflict simply means a disagreement or misunderstanding. We can have conflict without sinning. We can have conflict without drama when God’s Spirit is involved.

Verses about conflict

RELATED:

The Snare of People Pleasing

Healthy VS. Unhealthy Relationships

Responding to Insults, Criticisms, and Rebukes

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

My Identity in Christ

My Security Is in Christ Alone!

Roots of Insecurity

 

A Fellow Wife Begins a New Challenge – "I'm Going to Actually Believe My Husband"

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I first “met” A Fellow Wife in October of 2012. We have had some INTENSE conversations over the past 3 years. This has been a difficult journey many times for her – as it was for me (and as it is for all of us, I would daresay). I always love sharing what God is teaching her. I pray this might bless you (If your husband is involved in unrepentant sin, is abusive, is a compulsive liar, or is not in his right mind for some reason, perhaps you can’t believe your husband and this post may not be a good fit for you.) Thankfully, most of us really have decent men who are pretty straightforward and honest with us about what they say or who would like to feel safe enough with us to be straightforward and honest with us – even if they are not believers.

I’ve been thinking how different our marriage would be if I just truly took my husband at his word, if I believed him, if I took him as literally as he intends his words to be INSTEAD of allowing doubt and insecurity to creep in. Instead of over-analyzing and worrying he may not mean what he’s saying or that he’s just trying to spare my feelings or avoid conflict. How much more secure would I be in his love? How much happier would I be in our marriage. How much have I allowed Satan to steal from me through causing doubt, fear and insecurity?

  • Instead of thinking maybe he doesn’t want to have sex because I’m not a size 0, maybe he truly is just tired.
  • Instead of thinking he doesn’t love me as much as he says he does, just believe him.
  • Instead of believing I’m a low priority because he has things he wants to do, how about believing him when he says he just has things he wants to get done and it’s no reflection of his feelings for me.
  • How about believing him when he says he loves me with his entire heart instead of wondering if he’s truly got his priorities in order and prioritizes his marriage?

It would be a MUCH less painful way to live.

The reason I shared this is that I was thinking that doubt and insecurity can steal SO much from you – they’ve certainly been enemies of mine the last few years and I’m tired of the battle. It’s certainly easier and feels much better to have confidence in his love for me.

My husband’s biggest complaint (or close to the top) over the years has been that I don’t believe him.

I don’t want him to feel that way at all! It’s not been a matter of believing him but a matter of doubt and insecurity creeping in. But I want to conquer that. Love believes all things (Corinthians 13:8)!

I once read in book that Satan’s weapons are always doubt, deceit and distraction and if you can trace your thoughts back to those then you know you’re in a spiritual battle.

This is definitely a battle of doubt.

 

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Isn’t this the same issue we have with God so many times? What would happen if we just believed Him and took the Bible at face value and accepted His Word to us?

But, back to talking about our husbands. It has been my experience that most husbands really do try to tell their wives the truth in a very straightforward way. We tend to get ourselves into a lot of trouble though, because some of us want to read into everything. What did that look mean? What was that inflection in his voice? Maybe he really meant this, not what he said. Maybe he is trying to hide his real feelings. And we get into a big tizzy over all of the possible interpretations we can imagine regarding what our husband said rather than just taking his words at face value.

That is a LOT of unnecessary drama and angst, my dear sisters!

It is extremely frustrating to a man to tell his wife the truth and then have her not believe it and begin imagining 96 other things he may have meant – that he definitely did not mean.  In fact, for a man to tell his wife the truth and for her not to believe him and to assume evil ulterior motives instead feels really disrespectful to a man. Why is that? Because she is calling him a liar. No one enjoys being called a liar. Certainly not most husbands.

What if your husband does fudge things a bit to keep from upsetting you? What do you do then? Well, I think that if you begin to take his words at face value and don’t freak out and launch into “what if” land, he may eventually begin to feel safe enough to be more honest with you when he has a problem. In fact, that is one of the signs that he feels more safe with you and that he trusts you more is that he begins to share the really hard things with you more often.

If he truly has an issue with dishonesty and lying, that is a different situation – and you may need some experienced one-on-one counseling to help you. But for most of us, what if we try taking up a challenge:

Treat your husband as if you completely believe whatever he tells you this week. Take his words at face value. Rest in them. Act on them.

  • If he says he likes something, believe him.
  • If he says he doesn’t need help – trust that he is being honest and don’t help him. 
  • If he says he thinks you are beautiful – graciously receive the compliment and rest in his words, trusting that he is telling you the truth.
  • If he doesn’t give a lot of compliments, rest in what he does to show his love for you and that he is still there.
  • If he says he loves you, receive it.
  • If he does something special for you – receive that as his way of showing love for you and appreciate him.

If he is not being honest about little things, he will figure out that he needs to change things as you begin to consistently take him literally. Your husband is probably a pretty intelligent guy. You may be amazed at how relieved he feels when you stop questioning everything he says – if you have been doing that.

In the next post, we will talk about a challenge for us to share in an honest, respectful, and straightforward way, too.

SHARE:

If you have already been down this road and have learned the blessings and freedom of just believing your husband and trusting he is being honest, please share your story.

PRAY:

How would your relationship with God change if you began to do this with Him, as well? What would happen if you just took His Word at face value – believe it and act on it?

OTHER POSTS FROM A FELLOW WIFE

 

 

 

 

Resting in Christ

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When we are on this journey, seeking to become godly women/wives/mothers… it can feel very overwhelming and we may drive ourselves insane sometimes trying to be perfect and trying to evaluate ourselves constantly to see if we are “getting an A+ on our godly wife report card.”

The more you get into this journey and the closer you are to Christ, the more you realize – it isn’t about me trying harder. This isn’t about me being perfect. It isn’t about me making myself crazy with impossible expectations. It isn’t about me beating myself up. It is not about checking off a bunch of boxes on a list. It is not about legalism.(I’m going to share a number of gems from Andrew Murray’s book, Absolute Surrender in this post that I hope may clarify what I am saying.)

This journey isn’t about self-effort or self at all.

This is about yielding control to God completely. It is about resting in what Jesus did for me on the cross to make me right with God. It is about resting in what He did when He was raised from the dead and His Spirit flooding my soul to empower me to live the life He wants me to live. It is about Christ breathing life into me.

If you are getting really anxious about not being good enough or about feeling like a failure – just take a deep breath. Turn from anything God calls sin – confess it to Him as sin and receive His forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Come sit down at the feet of Jesus and rest in His love, provision, care, and sovereignty for you. Stop frantically studying for awhile. Stop reading about marriage if that is stressing you out. Stop “worry-praying” constantly trying to get God to do what you think He should do. Stop trying to fix everything to make it all work out “right.” Just be still for awhile. This is not about you trying to live a perfect life. That is impossible! You can’t do this thing in your strength.

Picture yourself trying to push a car across a 3000 mile journey. It would be ridiculous to even try such a thing. Instead of pushing the car, get in and sit down beside Jesus. God’s Spirit provides the fuel so that the car will go in His power, not yours. Picture Jesus driving and you just enjoying the journey with Him. He knows how to get to the destination. He does all of the work. You get to be along for the ride. But it is all His strength that moves you.

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Only He can live this life in and through you. As you cling to Him and focus on loving, praising, and trusting Him – and as you allow Him to have control and you desire Him above everything else – He can change your heart, your mind, and your desires. He does the work, not you.

He can give you the power to live the life that He wants you to live. Focus on doing what a branch does. Abide in Christ. Just receive from the vine. The vine provides all of the sap, strength, and nourishment the branch needs. The branch only clings to the vine – and fruit appears without striving or effort on the part of the branch. Jesus talks about this in John 15, and Murray elaborates on the concept, as well.

Be still before Him. Worship Him. Praise Him. Sing to Him. Drink in His goodness and His Word. Seek to be close to Him. Give Him access to everything in your life and allow Him to lead you baby step by baby step.

No need to freak out. No need to stress. No need to be afraid. Just rest in His strong arms, His wisdom, and His care. Let His love and His truth overtake you and consume your heart, mind, and soul. Focus on receiving all that He has done for you and all that He has already given you if  you are His. If you are not His, I invite you to come to Him today and follow Him for the rest of your life as your Savior and as Lord of your life.

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Empty yourself of all of your old worldly ways of thinking. Empty yourself of your old self. That old self is now dead with Christ and buried. Allow God to cleanse the darkest corners of your soul. When you are totally emptied of self, you are like a clean tea cup. God can pour His Spirit into you when you are fully His. No one pours tea into a teacup that has something else in it already – like ink or vinegar (a helpful illustration from Murray). Once a teacup is totally devoted to its purpose – and nothing else – it is ready to be filled with tea.

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Another illustration by Murray is that “We all know what absolute surrender looks like in daily life. A pen must be totally devoted to the task of writing. And it must be totally yielded to one person’s use. If more than one person tries to hold and use a pen at the same time, it can’t possibly accomplish very much. But if the pen is completely given over to one person, that person can use the pen to write much and accomplish great things.” (paraphrasing)

We are like that pen – we must be totally given over to God and His control. Nothing and no one else must have a hold on us other than God in order for Him to be free to accomplish His good purposes in us and through us. We yield control to Him and allow Him to do the work.

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Jesus is your Good Shepherd. Run to Him. Allow Him to take you up and hold you close against His heart. He knows how to provide the pasture, water, protection, care, and leadership you need. You don’t have to have it all figured out. You can’t figure it all out. All that is necessary to do is to follow Him and draw near to Him.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.… Matthew 11:28-29

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, Hebrews 4:9-11 (Hebrews 4:1-11 is about the Sabbath rest that believers in Christ enter into in Him)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:1-3

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

Verses about Rest

One of the best descriptions of how to do this that I have seen so far is in the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray.

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How do you rest in Christ? What do you do when you realize you are anxious and stressed about this journey or about life in general to get your eyes back on Jesus and to sit at His feet and just receive His goodness, love, provision, and care for you?

What are some Bible verses and worship songs that help you remember to rest and trust fully in Christ that may be a blessing to others who are struggling?

RELATED:

Victory over Perfectionism – Peacefulwife video

https://www.youtube.com/embed/U5riGWJ8U10?rel=0“>

Something that helps me is to focus on God’s character and who He is:

My Husband Said, “You Worry Too Much!”

Me with our son many years ago

April in 2002 – a few months after our first baby was born

I can’t remember Greg confronting most of my sin earlier in our marriage. But one thing I do remember him saying fairly often was, “You worry too much.”

I knew that was true and I couldn’t argue with his observation. But in my mind at the time, worry meant that I cared about something or someone.

Telling me, “April, don’t worry,” was no help. I didn’t have any other way to think. I had no idea that I was worrying because (in my case) I wasn’t really trusting God and didn’t grasp His sovereignty. I thought I did trust God. I said I trusted Him. I convinced myself I trusted Him. I did acknowledge Him with my mind and words but I did not fully trust Him with my heart.

In my understanding at the time, the only way I could think of to not worry was “to not care.” I certainly couldn’t do that! So I continued on in my worry, fear, and anxiety. Such a miserable way to live! But God, in His great love and mercy, did not leave me in that prison of the enemy! How I thank and praise Him for waking me up in December of 2008!

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April in 2003

We must all guard against worry and fear each day. I know I will always need to! That is why it is so important to take my thoughts captive for Christ and to shoot down ungodly or unscriptural thoughts. Even then, sometimes I have blind spots. I’m thankful for my accountability partners who are willing to lovingly let me know if they see me begin to slip into fear/worry so I can repent and refocus on trusting God – like they did for me just this past month.

If we are not careful we can create a belief system where we give SELF and human will more power than God and His sovereignty. A minister I deeply respect at our church recently said that this kind of theology can create a “spirit of independence” from God in the people who hear it. That is what I had.

I believed that people and situations depended greatly on me and my powers and that God was rather small and wimpy.

It is also possible to give God’s sovereignty too much emphasis over human free-will. This can be taken to the point where we believe that people become robots with no real choices or accountability. When people go to extremes with this idea, they may adopt a fatalistic approach and decide it “doesn’t matter” what we do as people, because God is ultimately deciding outcomes without any input from us  When we focus only on God’s sovereignty and negate the concept that God has given us a choice to obey Him or not is destructive and unbiblical as well.

The reality of what Scripture describes is somewhere in between – and is a bit of a mystery to our finite minds. God is totally sovereign AND we have free will. There is no conflict!

Scripture presents both of these concepts as being true. That is often how God works – in His wisdom – He puts things in a delicate balance. Love and justice. Grace and wrath. Omnipotence and gentleness. Healing and Suffering. Mercy and Holiness. Generosity and discipline. When we lack balance in our understanding too far one way or the other, we end up with a warped view of God and ourselves.

  • We are responsible for our own choices, obedience, and sin. All adults have God-given free will to make their own decisions. I can influence people, but then I must trust God to work in their lives and allow the person to make his/her own decisions.
  • God is sovereign ultimately over all things in ways that I will never fully grasp while I am on this earth.

There is freedom and peace in understanding where our responsibility ends. I will answer to Him alone. Other people will also answer to God ultimately. God will handle people and situations. He took that heavy load of the world off of my shoulders.

Combatting worry:

  • I think of myself laying my burdens down at the feet of God in the throne room of heaven in prayer. Then I don’t carry the spiritual and emotional weight anymore.
  • I love to turn on praise music and sing at the top of my lungs. It is truly impossible to worry and praise God at the same time!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Verses about worry

Verses about God’s Sovereignty

Verses about Free Will

Posts about Worry on Peacefulwife

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

Experiencing God’s Victory over Fear

MORE RESOURCES:

Please check out the things John Piper, David Platt, and Wayne Grudem have to say about God’s sovereignty, His character, His attributes, people’s free will, and election.

 

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