My Mask of Perfection

My Mask of Perfection

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From the time I was a small child, I did not use my voice and hid in the background to keep under the radar. As a result, I became what people wanted me to be. I was labeled, “The good, quiet one.” I was fearful of rejection, so I became a people pleaser. I believed the lie that if I were perfect, I would be loved. That’s when I started wearing a mask.

My need for love and acceptance caused me to hide parts of myself. I only showed the good sides so people would love me. Then, when I was 12 years old, I started sneaking whiskey from my parents’ liquor cabinet. Now, I was really hiding. I didn’t want my parents to find out. They were very strict with me being the oldest, and I didn’t want them to be angry or disappointed in me.

As I got older, my sins were more and more grievous, and my secrets became bigger and bigger. So, I isolated even more and hid everything. My mask morphed as I got older. As a child, I strived for perfection. I was a good student, good athlete, and an all-around good child. When that wasn’t working, I tapped into a lifestyle of alcohol, drugs and sex. When I was home, I was still the good one. But in high school, I was hanging out with those who smoked and did drugs.

At this point, people pleasing ruled my life. All I strove for were accolades from others and a place I could fit in and feel safe. But I would not find that for a long time. Honestly, I lost my own identity because I wanted to fit in with others. I no longer knew what I liked or what I wanted to do because I became a chameleon and changed depending upon the group I was with. I had lost my own identity striving to please others.

I felt unloved and lost. My drinking and drug use were out of control. I was a walking time bomb. I hated myself and felt so depressed. I struggled with keeping it all together. When I found out I was pregnant as a 21-year-old college student, I panicked. This pregnancy did not fit the narrative I was allowing my parents to see. I was not the good, quiet one. I was doing very ungodly, sinful destructive things, and now I was going to terminate my baby’s life.

How did I end up here? My whole life was a lie. I will have an abortion and act as if everything was fine. But everything wasn’t fine. After this traumatic event, I was more depressed than before, crying all the time and drinking more. My self-loathing and suicidal thoughts were now continually plaguing me. I just wanted to die so this torment would stop. It was too hard to keep up this façade. Slowly my mask was cracking, and I was so afraid of being exposed. All my sins and lies would come flooding out. I was scared.

In my early 30’s I had a physical and emotional break down. I could not function normally at all. I would lay on the couch for weeks at a time. All the years of stuffing and lying and all the pain I had been holding in all my life were starting to come out sideways. I was a walking volcano, spilling hot ash on anyone who got in my way. I was extremely emotional. I felt I could not look anyone in the eyes because if I did, I would not be able to stop crying.

Slowly I started recognizing I needed help. I needed someone who would love me, accept me, and heal me. I needed a Savior. Then on January 2, 1994, I heard the gospel for the first time. Within 4 weeks I gave my heart to Jesus, confessed my sins, turned from my old ways and turned toward God. I am coming up on the 26th anniversary of my salvation, and it is still the sweetest day of my life. It is the day I finally surrendered my life to God and allowed Him to heal my broken body, my broken heart and my broken mind. He transformed me into the woman He created me to be: a loving, confident woman filled with joy and peace. I have been adopted into the family of God; I am accepted, and I am finally loved. I feel safe to be me. I can take the mask off now because I am finally home.

Are you wearing a mask?

What does your mask look like?

Do you have the courage to take off the mask and be real?

I pray that as God heals you, you will be filled with His love and you will have the courage to take off your mask.

Blessings,

Toni

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The Tool of Detachment

The Tool of Detachment

John 10:10a, 1st Corinthians 14:33b, Proverbs 6:19b, James 1:19

The tool of detachment gives me the ability to love someone without getting caught up in their dysfunction. Satan is the author of confusion, chaos, and discord among the brethren and our families. He has made this his primary mission: to steal, kill, and destroy our testimonies, our relationships, our peace, our joy, and to make our lives miserable. We must guard our hearts from responding to others in ways that are hurtful and mean spirited, instead speaking the truth in love. Use your voice in a way that is pleasing to God and to the hearer. Recognize that everyone has wounds from their past and the way in which people respond to certain situations has a lot to do with where they are in their healing process. It’s important to remember, “Hurting people hurt people.” They are blinded by their wounds and cannot see how they are hurting others.

It is extremely important to have healthy boundaries. I grew up with no boundaries at all. I had to educate myself about boundaries and learn how to communicate them with others. Eventually, I started speaking up for myself and sharing how I was feeling. Over time, it became second nature for me to use my voice and to protect myself from unhealthy people or situations. Starting something new is always the hardest part, but it becomes easier with time.

If you have not read the book, “Boundaries,” by Cloud and Townsend, I suggest you do. This book is a very helpful resource. In my journey with the tool of detachment, I also had to recognize that I cannot fix, rescue, or save anyone. I had to realize that I cannot control another person, nor can I change them, but rather, God can. I had to surrender to God and relinquish all control to Him. As soon as I did, I began to feel more peaceful, calmer and less anxious about things.

When I trust God and humble myself before Him, I am released from being tormented by the evil one. A humble, teachable spirit is a very powerful weapon against the enemy, and God draws near to the humble. There are times I need to leave a room and walk away from a conversation because I feel I may say something I will regret. Once I say something that is hurtful, I can never take it back. Removing myself from a volatile situation is sometimes my only option. By doing this, I have a chance to cool down, think, and pray before I respond to this person or situation. I can now respond, instead of just reacting without thinking. God wants me to think and pray before I speak, knowing that my words can be used to lift others up or they can cause others to stumble.

Detachment gives me wisdom and discernment when dealing with a situation or an individual who is in a volatile state. I don’t have to fear or be anxious, and I don’t have to take the situation on as my own. Instead, I can recognize that the occurrence has nothing to do with me. I can respond in a calm and godly manner, and I can speak the truth in love. I can walk away and return when I am calmer and more composed. Seeking God during this process helps me to remain in peace and in control of my emotions; that’s all I am responsible for, and I leave the rest in God’s hands.

In His love and service,

—Toni

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Idolatry

Idolatry

What is idolatry and how do we define it?

I believe idolatry is the act of putting something or someone before God in our thoughts or hearts by obsessing over or being consumed by it. This idol can be your job, money, a sport or hobby, a relationship, or a physical problem; anything that we put before God.

Exodus 20:3-6 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve (worship) them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

What are some of the things I have put before God? In the past, I have put my children, my husband, tennis, and what others think of me before God. In fact, I became consumed with them. But, why? I had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility; I was a people pleaser due to my fear of rejection and abandonment. I was plagued with unhealthy relationships that caused me to put others needs above even my own self-care. I obsessed over trying to control things because I did not trust God. I was fearful to put Him first; not being in control was a scary thought for me.

It was only after I learned to relinquish control to God (Step 1) and admit my life had become unmanageable, that I started learning what it looked like to trust God. I learned to release individuals and situations into His capable hands, which freed me from carrying these burdens and feeling personally responsible for way too many things. I learned that God wanted to be first in my life. Reading His word and meditating on scripture first thing in the morning became a daily habit for me. I look forward to that special time each morning with Him and Him alone.

I learned what co-dependency was and how I was so intertwined with others’ lives that I could not detach myself from them. Their lives affected mine too much. I had to step back and allow them to make their own decisions, learn from their mistakes, and to experience consequences for their own actions. I no longer had to jump in to fix, rescue, or save others. I learned I am not God; I cannot control another person. I grew up believing I had the power to make people happy or sad by my words and actions, that was a lie from the devil. I never had that much control. Once I realized this, I surrendered to God and gave Him all the people and situations in my life that I had tried to control. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was responsible only for myself.

Let me ask you what are some idols in your life?

Why have you not released them into God’s capable hands?

What are you afraid of?

I pray that this topic has given you awareness about some areas in your life that God wants you to change.

God bless you as you seek His wisdom and guidance.

IDOL’ATRY, n. L. idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.

  1. The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God.

Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.

  1. Excessive attachment or veneration (great respect or reverence) for anything, or that which borders on adoration.

Definitions from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

In His love and service,

—Toni

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Self-Pity

Self-Pity

Self-Pity

Philippians 2:2-4, Galatians 5:22-23

God wants me to spend less time thinking of myself, and more time thinking of Him and others.

Self-pity is being consumed with thoughts about oneself, usually regarding some unfair situation or treatment by others. Self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself and asking yourself questions like, “Why Me? Why is God not doing something about this situation that I am in?”

I feel self-pity when I perceive an injustice, when I am feeling rejected or left out, when I compare myself to other women, or when I am hurt and disappointed by another’s actions. Self-pity is a dark, slippery, deep hole. In this pit I feel alone, abandoned by others, and tormented.

When I focus on self and not God, I have a distorted view of truth. I feel hopelessness because I am doing things in my own strength. I cannot see how my circumstances can change because I am powerless to change them. When I focus on self and not God, the enemy sees that I am vulnerable and attacks me with his fiery darts. My head and eyes are cast down, I am heavy with no energy, and I feel all alone. When I am looking down, I cannot see God and be thankful for all the things He does for me on a daily basis. This is the enemy’s plan. He wants me to isolate myself from God and others. He wants me to focus on that one thing I don’t have, and he continues to lie to me until I start believing him. Then, he has me exactly where he wants me. His purpose in this world is to steal, kill, and destroy me, my testimony, my joy, and my trust in God.

I also know I am in self-pity mode when I compare myself to other women, being critical and judgmental towards them. This happens when I am feeling insecure about myself and I am not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When I catch myself thinking like this and speaking harsh things, I immediately recognize I am in sin, confess this to God, and ask for forgiveness. Instead of judging others, I need to look for the similarities between us and seek out the good in them. Who am I to judge another person? Only Jesus is Judge. I am commanded by God to love others.

How can we get out of the pit of despair and negative thoughts?

  • The Word of God replaces those negative thoughts and lies with His truth. It is His truth that makes us free. (John 8:32)

     

  • By focusing on others. We read in Philippians 2:2-4: “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let His mind be in you (The mind that was in Christ).”

In His love & service,

Toni

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Secrets

Secrets

John 8:31-32, 36

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

“You’re only as sick as your secrets,” this is a familiar recovery term and it is a true statement. Until we feel safe to share our secrets, we keep them locked up in a type of “Pandora’s Box,” where we keep all of our deepest and darkest secrets hidden, because we fear them coming out to expose the ugly truth. For the post abortion woman, it is the truth that we terminated the life of our child. This horrible secret is a child, our child.

God doesn’t want us operating in secrets, because He knows how destructive isolation and secrets are. I started secrets when I was a young child to hide from my parents the things I was doing, that I knew were wrong, but I kept those secrets until a few years ago when I told them of my dark past and my abortion, it was not an easy conversation. I wanted them to hear it from me because I was starting this ministry and I didn’t want them to find out from another source, it needed to come from me. I felt a great release when I was finally able to share this with my parents.

Why are secrets destructive?

First, they keep us isolated from God and others, and that’s exactly where the enemy wants us. He wants us isolated and hiding because then he can torment us over and over again, until we realize what’s going on. Secrets keep us from the very people that can help us.

Second, the dysfunction is perpetuated and will continue as long as we nurture this thing, and protect it, like it was some prized possession. The secret needs to exposed and brought into the light.

Third, we are already fearful of exposure and many of us have experienced abuse in our past, this secret is a way to keep us safe so we think, but actually it is causing us to stay sick. God gives us the courage to step out of isolation and secrets so we can be healed.

Fourth, secrets are destructive because they distort our view of reality and we feel like we are all alone. Secrets are usually combined with lies that we believe about ourselves, God, or others. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit help us to know the truth, so we can walk in it and so these secrets and lies can no longer hold us back from becoming the woman God created us to be.

God wants us free from bondage which is what secrets do they keep us in chains and in darkness. He has come to set the captives free.

What secrets are you still holding onto?

Why are you fearful to share them? Is it fear of rejection, fear of hurting another person, fear of abandonment, or fear of judgment?

How did you feel after you had the courage to share your secret?

I pray you have the courage to trust God and allow Him to show you the areas of your life that need healing. Trust Him with your secrets.

 

Blessings,

Toni

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Bread from Heaven

Bread from Heaven

I would rather go back to what is familiar even if it is bondage…

Exodus 16: 3-4a
And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you….”

When the children of Israel’s trials were too hard for them to bear, they wanted to go back to what was familiar: slavery in Egypt.

How many of us can relate to wanting to go back to the dysfunctional relationships or sins of our past because there is comfort in knowing what to expect?

Change is hard because it’s unfamiliar; there is no safety or comfort in it. But God doesn’t want us to stay in our dysfunction. He wants us healed. He wants us to trust Him completely with every area of our lives.

God provided the children of Israel with bread that literally dropped out of the sky, He called it, “Bread from Heaven.” If God did that for them, don’t you think He can help you too? I think the answer is Yes!!!

Let me ask you, what are you still trying to control and refuse to release into God’s Hands?

God wants you to trust Him to lead, guide, and provide for you. He has a beautiful plan for your life. Honestly, at this point, what do you have to lose? If anything, you have much to gain.

Step out dear one, and let God take control; you will not regret this decision.

If you need prayer or encouragement, reach out and we will be happy to pray with you.

God Bless you!

Toni and the Team at myashestobeauty.com

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!