(Photo by Ryan Riggins on Unsplash)
Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
Yesterday I talked to my son, and he was telling me about exposure therapy which is exposing oneself to those things that cause you fear or anxiety. You take a simple step first and gradually move to more difficult steps to overcome the fear. For example, someone who has a fear of public speaking and wants to get past it may use exposure therapy. Or someone who has irrational fears that keep them from enjoying life may gradually expose them self to the fear until it no longer has a hold on them.
This morning I was thanking God for the conversation we had and was thinking about where I might benefit from exposure therapy. God began to speak to my mind about truth. I have a bad habit of projecting my thoughts and feelings on to others and believing they are correct. Sometimes I will later tell myself it was a lie, but nothing changes. It's as if I continue to believe the lie or I still think I was right about what I thought and felt. The inability to know what is true or not true has caused me to be anxious when I'm around people or to avoid others altogether which in turn has led to a deep feeling of sadness. So what God spoke to me this morning is the beginning of His exposure therapy for me. I hope that what He said to me may benefit someone else too who is struggling with insecurity.
To get a better idea of the context of what He said, let me back up a bit to some of what I wrote. I started my journaling with gratitude like I usually do. I thought through the day before and found ways to be thankful for everything that happened, but then, as is often the case, I began to overthink and write what I was thinking and feeling. Anxiety and confusion was setting in. I felt prompted to stop and listen instead. This is a portion of what I heard in my mind:
Sweet Lynn, don't go off on rabbit trails. Gratitude is what you are thankful for, not what you are trying to convince yourself you should be grateful for...not saying you are thankful for what you aren't...You are indeed thankful for any new thing I am doing that has been and still is a desire of your heart. Lynn, now it's time to look at Me again--not for what I can do for you but for who I am and for the privilege of knowing Me. I know this is a difficult concept for you to grasp and you think you are probably more selfish than the average godly believer; that your struggles make you worse and unworthy. And how you hate covering them up because you want others to accept you for who you are. You believe others are either better than you or more adept at covering up their insecurities which also makes them better than you in your mind. What if some are further along? Is that a bad thing? And what if they aren't judging, condemning, or ignoring you? Or what if someone does judge you, what does that say about them? If they condemn you, what does that tell you? If they overlook you or treat you as invisible, what is that saying about them? No one is perfect and no one has the right to judge or condemn you. You don't even see anyone doing it; but you believe in your heart they must be. You perceive it as happening because of your own insecurities. The truth is not in you, sweet Lynn. Even when you call it a lie, you still hang onto the belief that what you are feeling or thinking is true. If you secretly judge others for what you perceive is true, what does that say about you? If you inwardly condemn others for something you feel or think they are thinking, who is it really about? If you ignore others because you think they want to ignore you, what is it saying about you? Sweet Lynn, I do not condemn you, but expose you to the truth. Don't sweep my words under the rug because they are uncomfortable. Embrace what I say and meditate on it. Let it sink in. What lie do you still believe because it's more comfortable and what truth do you need to hear again and again until it gets in you and you no longer feel the need to go back to the lie when you are around others? I love you and I know I can tell you these things because you love truth and the thought of not being able to give up the lie is what causes the deep sadness. I want to free you from your insecurities, but I can only do it if you let Me. Believing a lie does not make you less than or more selfish, it just means you are still on the journey. As I expose you to truth as only I can, you will gradually let go of your insecurities. Keep praising Me and lifting up your voice in worship because I am worthy and it is one of the most beautiful things about you. I am your Lord, but I am also your friend. Jesus.
Friend, are you also believing a lie? Has one come to mind? Jesus wants to free you, too, if you let Him. He wants to expose you to truth as only He can. Jesus is gentle and loving and kind. He doesn't push, but neither does He give up on you. As you can see, I am on this journey with you. As I let His words sink in, I hope you will too. The lie may feel more comfortable, but the only way to be free is to know the truth.
Third Day: Your Love O Lord
Your love, oh Lord
Reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean's tide
I will lift my voice
To worship You, my King
I will find my strength
In the shadow of your wings