I once cut my finger pretty deeply with a sharp knife. Amidst the makings for fish tacos, blood spurted from my fingertip making my stomach turn. I thought maybe I would pass out! How had this happened? What did I just do? I wrapped my finger tightly with a tissue hoping to stop the flow. It didn't work. Nothing could stop the pulsing sensation running through my finger. The denial lasted a long time. I put more pressure on it. I iced it. I held it so tightly that I practically cut off the circulation. I was absolutely, positively NOT getting stitches. Nope. No way.
Unfortunately this is the easiest way to deal with unacceptable life events. Cover. Ignore. Deny. Doubt its existence. Live in the moments before the terrible event occurred. Think back on why this happened. How it happened. How we could've prevented it from happening. A constant stream of denying thoughts that don't change what has happened, but can easily prolong the acceptance of the new reality.
The first time I dyed my hair I was 31 years old. It was the day before my divorce and I felt a persistent need to reflect externally all of the changes I felt internally. My hair was bright red- just like Amy Adams. Looking in the mirror I didn't recognize myself, which is exactly how I felt inside.The past eight months of separation had changed me, and I couldn't go back to my former self.
When the worst happened and I became a divorcee I did everything I could to deny my new identity. I bought a beautiful, expensive white gold heart ring with tiny little diamonds on one side. I began to wear it on my ring finger so people wouldn't know that I wasn't married anymore. When my doctor- who had also been my husband's doctor- asked me how he was doing, I replied "He's fine," rather than discussing our new status with him.
I went to the dentist's office and had to fill out new paperwork. I was alarmed to see that the dentist requires me to state my marital status. Why does the dentist need to know this? I battle within myself when I see the choices:
That seems like an awful lot of information for the dentist. I choose 'single' and then feel bad about it later. I feel like a liar, but I don't want to talk to my dentist about my divorce. Does this information somehow relate to receiving dental work? Isn't there anyplace I can go to avoid this identity?
Soon I must file taxes as a single person and reveal to people that I am no longer 'Mrs. Boyd', but "Ms.". I do not have a joint checking account anymore. I am no longer a "we", but just "me." At the time, I did not, and could not accept these changes. I felt powerless and out of control. I don't want to be divorced. I reject this new identity. No thanks.
I feel a deep sense of shame before God. Not only do others know my new identity, but God hates divorce. Does God accept this new me? How does God see me? How can I begin to accept the new me when I know that the shame I feel is not coming from God, but from Satan?
Why can't I see myself like God does?? It comes down to a whole lot of wrong thinking...
1. I COMPARE myself to everyone else in the world. Supermodels and celebrities. Women who have all of the things that I want. I compare myself to people who own homes and people who have money. To people who have children and a husband and flowers on their dining room table. Of course I seem like "lesser" of a person when I don't have any of those things, right?
2. I BELIEVE Satan when he says I'm no good. He constantly whispers lies into my ear:
"You'd be married by now if you were prettier or more confident."
"You could have all of the things that you want if you settle for what you can get."
"God is judging you and that is why you are alone."
"God doesn't really want what is best for you. He wants what's best for Him- and that's not fair."
3. I CHOOSE to feel sorry for myself. After I'm done comparing myself to others and believe the lies that Satan spews into my mind, I engage in a self-imposed sadness. An epic pity party in which nobody likes me, everybody hates me.
4. I IGNORE the good things that God has given to me. Family and genuine friends. A place to live, a job, delicious food to eat, chai tea lattes, and so much more. Not to mention HIS salvation and continuous presence in my life. Just a few small blessings that I choose to ignore when I'm in a cycle of denial, comparison, and wrong thinking.
When I choose to ignore an identity that God has allowed, or cause that unwanted identity to overshadow all of the other amazing identities that God sees when He sees me, I'm putting myself in a lose-lose situation. I have to make the choice to see myself as HE sees me and know that He accepts my broken identity and shepherds me as his beloved sheep. He loves me as a Father loves his daughter. I am complete in Christ- not in my identity as a divorcee. This is just one piece of who I am.
I never did get stitches for that nasty cut. It took so long to heal that I knew my denial had led me to resist the proper treatment. If I had just accepted the condition of that finger and gone in for stitches my wound would have healed up much more quickly and without such a scar. Denying or ignoring problems in our lives can lead to a warped view of who you truly are in Christ. The lingering effects can take a toll on your emotional outlook. See yourself through God's loving eyes. Don't deny your beauty or worth due to past trials. Let us instead embrace God's hope and promise for our future.
Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
Quote from Ann Voskamp
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