This past summer, all my best thinking led to some tearful conversations with my grown son and daughter. Apparently there was a disconnect . . . and it wasn’t on their end, it was on mine.
It all started in May. My stepson finalized wedding plans and got married. My son came home from college to work, save money, and take some classes online. What we didn’t plan on was identity theft, which led to a consuming amount of work and documents galore, no Internet, computers, telephones, or cell phones, and thoroughly rewiring our home.
I admit, I was a little uptight. Okay, I was a little like Squidward from SpongeBob on a very bad day . . . for days . . . which turned into weeks . . . which turned into the whole summer.
To be extremely transparent, all of the chaos played right into areas where I am fragile: mistrust and anxiety connected to past abuse I endured, nightmares, and challenges with attention and focus. Instead of doing what I know I’m supposed to do as a Christian—“let go, let God”—I became obsessed with trying to control everything.
- My tongue became a laser, firing upon the smallest irritation.
- My mind-set was focused on perception rather than reality.
- I stopped laughing, stopped being the typical silly mom and wife, and became the hypersensitive, defensive, demanding, drive-you-nuts kind of person everyone avoids.
So taken with trying to protect myself (as if), I was hurting those I love the most . . . but had no clue because self-focus blinds us to how dreadful and hurtful we can be toward others.
My daughter came for a quick visit near the end of summer. Our typical laughter was obviously missing. Surrounded by a house-load of security teams and outdoor cameras, she asked, “Mom, can we go into your room? I need you.” We plopped ourselves on my big bed and within moments her tears began to tumble.
Mom, you’ve always told us to tell you the truth, so I’m going to and don’t know how you will take this. It’s a truth bomb, but I need you to hear me.
It was a bomb of sorts—the kind that blows up our self-centered world if we’re committed to honesty and listening. The kind that clears our blinding, binding perceptions and opens the space for truth to invade. That same week, my son expressed similar emotions about the wall I had put up to keep pain at bay and about his need to relate with the freedom and peace we had established through the years. Hearing is a deliberate decision—so is choosing to change.
Traps and Triggers
Frequently God orchestrates in surprising ways His longing for us to hear and trust Him. Such was the case when, one after the other, a book, a Sunday morning message, and a podcast all mentioned John 10:10:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
God got my attention!
Make no mistake, the Enemy is determined to destroy you and to destroy me. A thief literally cares nothing about the wants and needs of others and, instead, causes loss and confusion. It’s the same with the Devil who wants to create chaos and confusion, steal our joy, and distract us from godly focus. If he could, the Devil would rob us of all trust in Christ, plaguing us with doubts about Jesus’ timeless, faithful care over every area of our lives.
We all have triggers . . .
- Visual images
Things that feel like, look like, seem like the same pain we have experienced in the past.
How we respond to those triggers is critical—will we respond with fear or with faith in the One who promises to give us a rich and satisfying life? When we respond with fear, we choose to habitually follow broken, self-focused methods that don’t work and also hurt others.
When we are trapped by self-protection, we make a choice; we believe that our resources, control, and agenda will keep us more secure than God’s sovereign plan. Unless and until we are willing to listen to those who really love us and long for a relationship with us, we will remain trapped in fear.
A truth bomb is essential to responding in faith—let it blow up all the false thinking and self-protecting habits developed due to pain. God can use our pain for a greater purpose if we allow Him to take charge of our lives. Self-protection rejects Christ’s miraculous care over all our lives.
Let Me Hear from You
Have all my problems been solved? No. Will I face identity theft again? Who knows? Is my family more valuable than false beliefs? ABSOLUTELY!
So I’ve been making changes. It’s been hard, uncomfortable, difficult for others, demanding on those I love. But in order to live abundantly in relationship with those I love and with Christ, I’m called to embrace my fragility, release control, seek support, and willingly follow Christ as my Lord and Savior. So are you.
The truth, my friend, will set you free. It doesn’t always solve circumstantial problems, relational irritations, or everyday challenges. The truth grounds us in God’s sovereignty when life is problematic, irritating, or challenging. If you’re running on empty, you may have been robbed.
Instead of allowing the thief to steal, kill, and destroy, turn your life over to the One who is sovereign over all lives committed to following Jesus Christ. I’m calling you to place your trust and all the circumstances you are living in to the One who longs to give you rest—Jesus Christ.
What area of life comes to mind right now that needs to be released? Let’s walk this road together.
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