Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of Self

Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of Self

Isaiah 43:18-19 and Psalms 62:6-8

Stinking Thinking refers to the negative thoughts that torment us especially when we are HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) or have thoughts such as a distorted view of God and self, negative thinking, justification, fear, and anxiety. We will address each of these topics so we can discern between the lies we have believed over the years and replace them with God’s truth. Our goal is to equip you so you can have victory in these areas.

Isaiah 43:18-19
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Psalms 62: 6-8
“He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

I was the oldest of 3 and came from a strict second-generation Italian-American Family. My father and his 2 brothers and sister ran a family owned Construction Company started by my grandfather in 1948. My grandfather had a drinking problem, and my dad growing up in that environment, acted like an alcoholic even though he did not drink, I refer to his behavior as a “rageaholic”. He worked extremely long hours and was dealing with a lot of stress and competition between him and his brothers. He was not able to communicate in a healthy manner without becoming angry and raising his voice, he had a very short fuse. So, when he was home, I would literally want to run and hide. I had an over developed sense of responsibility and I took on shame very quickly as a child. He was very unpredictable and scary at times. As a result of this I hid behind my wall to protect myself. I pretended to be the good quiet one, in order to protect myself and to set myself apart from my sister who was 15 months my junior and my brother who was born 3 years later.

How was I supposed to get the love and attention I needed? After the “good quiet one persona” was not working anymore I started sneaking Scotch Whiskey from my parents’ liquor cabinet. Like I said, my dad did not drink so he did notknow I was watering down his liquor, until I overheard my uncle comment on it one day when he had a drink.

Now I was really hiding because of all the sins I was pilling up, while still keeping up the façade of the good quiet one. By 13, I was getting high and doing other drugs, having sex at 16, and getting pregnant at 21. That’s quite a recipe for disaster. I felt very insecure because I started gaining a lot of weight from all the extra calories from the liquor, and binging after getting high. I felt ugly, fat, unloved, alone, and depressed. I never developed my voice either, so all the stuffing I had been doing during my life was about to come out sideways, and I will not be able to control it. I would become like my father, a “rageaholic”.

After many years of destructive choices, unhealthy copying mechanisms and addictions; my self-loathing was at an all-time high, my depression was preventing me from functioning normally and all the pain I had been stuffing all my life, was coming out sideways; I was a walking volcano. I literally just wanted to end this disaster of a life and stop the torment I was experiencing. I felt I was not worthy to be loved. In fact, I thought I deserved to be emotionally abused because of my abortion. I did not see myself as a person of value to anyone, not even to God. This destructive pattern would continue until I was 34, when by the grace of God, I heard the gospel and within 4 weeks I got saved and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and to be my Lord and Savior. The most beautiful and memorable day of my life is February 6, 1994 when I received Jesus as my Lord. Jesus met this broken shell of a woman and breathed in me life and I became born-again.

Even after my salvation I still struggled with my stinking-thinking regarding my relationship with God, I felt I had to work for His love and for the approval of others in leadership at Church. My people pleasing was consuming my life and God showed me that this is idolatry, that anything that I put above God is an idol. Slowly overtime as He poured His love and grace over me and many years of recovery, intensive inner healing work, and involvement in high accountability groups; God showed me His love for me was not based upon my good works, but it was only because of Jesus’ death on the cross on my behalf that I was now righteous before God. I stopped striving to please people and only live my life to please God. As a result of this new mindset, I have become more dependent upon God and bolder and more courageous. I am so grateful for the wonderful adventure the Lord and I are on right now.

How has your distorted view of self, opened yourself up to all kinds of abuse and sin as a way of trying to cope with all the pain?

How was your distorted view of yourself especially after your abortion different from the way you see yourself now?

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

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

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

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

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Angel of Light (Part 2)

Angel of Light (Part 2)

In part one of this story, I left off when I threw the man out, I will call “abuser” that had been living with me, who I was allowing to ruin my testimony, my peace of mind and keeping me from a relationship with the Lord. I had discovered that you cannot serve Jesus and the devil or another way to put it is, ungodly/sinful desires, at the same time.

He had threatened me as I told him to leave so I worried that he would retaliate, having seen him do it to others who crossed him. But I had turned a corner and began to trust in the Lord again so I was resolved. Although I knew I had done the right thing, I was so unsure of my future. And in spite of feeling so broken and vulnerable, I trusted the Lord and moved towards Him. I asked for forgiveness for leaving the path He had so firmly planted me on and asked him to restore me to Himself.

Through the tears and the shame, I began my journey back to my Lord, one step, one day at a time. I began attending church again and as I sat in the services, I felt numb and unable to respond. I just took it all in and allowed the Lord to begin the healing process on my heart, mind and my sick body. I got back into the bible and read everyday and slowly returned to fellowship with other believers which was so good for me! It took five plus years to be restored to the closeness that I once had with the Lord and to feel confident in my role as His child.

I still had a deep longing to be married but this time I was leaving it up to the Lord. I learned that I could not make it happen on my own, not the way God would have it for me! I knew I wanted to be with a devoted follower of Christ, a man who would put Jesus first in all things and cherish me the way God intended.

After a couple of years no men of this caliber had come into my life so, I assumed that the Lord intended for me to be single. And shortly after I accepted this and began to settle on the idea that God would use me in my singleness, He sent me a godly, ethical, gracious man who would eventually become my husband! The way we met could only have come from the Lord! We lived in different countries and found one another on a

Christian dating website. So after 42 years, I married my soul mate. It has been 17 wonderful years that we’ve been together. He is perfect for me!

If you ask me, would I want to go through that horrible relationship with the abuser again to get where I am today, I would say NO. But having experienced it, I can appreciate how God provides and does it so much better than we can imagine! Praise Him for His faithfulness!

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!

There Will Be Bad Days…

There Will Be Bad Days…

This past week was a battle. From disturbing images to extremely unsettling thoughts, OCD was going right for the jugular. Up until that point, it had been a good period of time since I had to be on high alert against mentally obtrusive thoughts. Thanks to the miracle of Fluvoxamine (my medication of choice), these kinds of thoughts have been less frequent and easier to find my way out of. Not this time, though. It all came to a head on Monday night when I found myself in the emergency room with sharp chest and arm pains. It has yet to be determined if the pains were completely anxiety related. However, I will tell you that all my exams in the hospital came back normal. (I will continue with this part of the story in an upcoming post regarding other health issues I will be testing for, including all tick-borne diseases. Side note: For those of you who don’t live in the northeastern part of the United States, consider yourselves truly blessed when it comes to the issue of ticks. One day I hope to be able to spend at least part of my summers away from this region of the country for the sole purpose of avoiding those tiny life-ruiners). In any event, after my visit to the ER, I had an impromptu session with my psychiatrist. After our conversation and careful consideration, we decided it would be best to add a small dosage of an anti-depressant to my daily regimen. Four days later, I am feeling worlds better. Praise God for the wisdom He has given my doctor.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have been taught and believe that there is a whole other world I cannot see. This plane, or spiritual realm, is filled with powers and spirits I am blind to, or really, protected from. With that said, there is a spiritual element to my OCD and depression struggles. I want to be clear that this belief does not downplay or take away credence from the fact that anxiety disorders like OCD are also biological and physical. I am against the idea that mental health issues are completely spiritually driven. Have you ever seen a brain scan of someone with OCD versus someone with a “healthy” brain? Search for that on the internet and then try to convince yourself that OCD is not also a physical issue. The point I’m trying to make is that my OCD has a personality. It distorts everything and everyone I love, and even how I view myself. It feels evil, sounds evil, and is based on lies. In the dark moments, when I can’t get myself out of a mind-ditch, there is only one thing to do: pray. While the terrifying thoughts may not be instantly removed while praying, there is instant safety and freedom in the presence of God. In the arms of Jesus, there is safety knowing that I cannot be harmed by my thoughts and neither can the ones I love. In the arms of Jesus, there is freedom in sharing my thoughts no matter how dark or disturbing. The arms of Jesus are a place where I am known for who I am and not who my thoughts say I am. There is no place like this on earth, nor medicine that can truly recreate the stability and deep underlying peace of this place.

It is important to note that after my trip to the ER, I felt an enormous amount of discouragement. How could I be back at this place with my mental health? I’ve put in so much effort to be “OK” over the last six years. From counselors, to psychiatrists, to medications, to books, to research, to behavioral exercises…am I really back here? The answer was both yes and no. Yes, I was in a bad state of mental health, but no, I was not back to where I was in the beginning of this journey. I am older, wiser, and stronger because of all that I have been through with this disorder. If I can get through what I have been through in the past, I can most certainly step forward now with the abilities God has given me and enables me to use everyday thanks to the hellish roads He and I have walked down together. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience is the most brutal of teachers, but you learn, my God, do you learn.” Praise God for His wisdom and amazing love. Keep fighting, friend.

Love,

Jackie