I’m finding a pattern; as I dig deeper into my personal growth and healing, much of my inner work has been centered on reconciling, grieving and processing through lies that I believed wholeheartedly to be true and absolute.
This process sucks. Uprooting and questioning the cornerstones of ones belief system is never easy or straightforward. There are so many offshoots. Everything is entangled and enmeshed. It feels overwhelming sometimes. The good news is I have found when you deal with the root-the lie, then healing and truth can resonate through all of those offshoots. You will start to see fruit in so many other areas of your life that you never realized were connected to this lie you believed.
It has taken me years chipping away at the side effects to finally recognize the root of this particular lie. It has shaped how I see myself, how I view trials and hardships and how I judge others. This lie was hard to pin down and define, but at it’s core the lie is- My relationship with God is directly correspondent to the good or bad things that happen in my life. Not that God would send bad things if I didn’t have a close enough relationship with Him, but by a failing on my part if bad/negative/unpleasant things were happening it was a sign I’m not as close with God as I need to be.
The fall-out of this belief system is two fold. On one hand there is my own self-hatred/perfectionism that gets triggered when bad things happen, trials, or conflict come my way. On the other hand, there is fierce judgement of those around me. I make snap judgments over whatever mess I see in others lives. In my subconscious mind their mess is a tell for how they must not have a true relationship with God. Cue pride and self-righteousness here.
Reading in-between the lines and seeing how my parents reacted to difficult situations taught me that the bad things that happen in life could have been avoided if only I (they) had a better relationship with God. I believed trials, difficulties, bad relationships, conflict, confrontation, and even sickness were indicative of not having a good enough relationship with God and consequently that happily ever after could be achieved if ONLY I prayed more, worshiped more, read my Bible more, communed with God more. If I had a better relationship with God…
…I would have heard Him warn me and I could have avoided ____
…I would be able to walk in love with this toxic person
…I would have the wisdom to deal with _________ (person/situation)
…I would not be “in the flesh” (name any emotion/feeling that did not line up with the fruit of the spirit)
This kicked my achiever-number-3-enneagram personality into overdrive. I took my relationship with God a.k.a. my good works a.k.a. earning God’s favor very seriously. I ate up everything my family, mentors or clergy would teach or use as tales of caution because I was not going to miss the boat. Things like…
…So-and-so is struggling in her marriage. If she was really walking in love and doing the Word there would not be a problem.
…Struggle with addiction is just an attempt to plug their God-shaped hole with a substance. It is only through a real relationship with God men are set free.
…So-and-so was caught sleeping around. If only she had a true understanding of how much God loved her she would not need the approval of man…
…Depression/anxiety is not from God and those struggling with it do not have a revelation of who God is in their life.
Now, some of these circumstances could be true, but they are not absolute. There are so many other factors that play into all of these situations beyond just someone’s relationship with God. I absorbed everything that was taught me like it was absolute truth and as a result judged myself and everyone around me very harshly.
2020 has been a very revealing year for a lot of reasons, as I am sure you are probably aware as you are also a human being on planet Earth along with me. I was talking with someone about current events and they said something to the effect of, “In these times it is so important to have a close relationship with God, that is the only way we are going to survive.” My knee-jerk reaction was fear, it was striving. My brain started spiraling into a list of all the things I should be doing. My inner dialogue was one of hustle, of orphan mentality, not of a daughter of the King.
Something was going on in my heart and it gave me pause. I started pulling on this thread and it led me back to this lie that I have ingested and taken on as my identity for so long. I am still in process. Recognizing the lie was the first part of unraveling everything. Now my journey is to find the truth and use it to replace the lie whenever I recognize I’m partnering with it
So here is some truth according to Rachael; Life is the good, bad and ugly, that is just how it is. We live in a fallen world with other hurting broken people. Uncomfortable, bad, unpleasant, hard things are going to happen in our lives, it can not be avoided like I thought it could. Our relationship with God is our life-line through life, it is not our escape from life.
Freaking Apostle Paul wrote two-thirds of the New Testament and went through unimaginable difficulties. Do I question his relationship with God? Heck no! We see how his relationship with God was what caused him to run into those hardships because he knew that God would bring him through the other side. God did give him insight, God did give him wisdom, but the trials were not avoided. And then here I am thinking because I got in a car accident or have strep-throat I’m a failure or I missed God somewhere along the line.
By definition a relationship is an on-going thing. There is no arrival point. There is no strike even and then coast throughout the rest of your life happily ever after. It just does not exist. It is the same with your relationship with God. Somehow I missed the memo on that one. I thought I could get to a place where I was so spiritually mature I could just cruise on through life for the rest of my life. Nope.
My journey into a deeper relationship with God has been one of stripping away the performance, the striving, the works and learning how to just be with God. Your journey might look like adding more spiritual disciplines to your life. Neither are wrong. There is no magic formula. “To have a relationship with God you have to read your Bible everyday, pray for an hour, have quiet time, fast once a week etc…” Yes, those things are great tools to knowing God, but not end-all-be-all of a relationship with him. God knows your heart. Are you doing them because you should, are you doing them because you are trying to earn something from Him, or because He led you to?
In receiving God’s gift of salvation my sprit was made whole, I was given full access to the goodness and greatness of God. My sin in not an issue, He already paid the price. He does not want me to be a mini-famous preacher replica. He wants me, Rachael. He wants me to be me and to bring my whole self to the table. My gifts, my talents, my experiences, my hurts, my flaws everything I am-that is powerful. I do not have to create a testimony, I am the testimony. The raw, honest, authentic me and my story is where there is breakthrough, where there is anointing, where there is healing. God does not want me to serve Him and spend time with Him so that I can get something from Him. He wants to be with me and in me.
When I partner with the lie that my external life is a reflection of my relationship with God I am not going to be authentic because I fear what people will think of me. I think if I am honest about the mess that I am struggling with my testimony will be marred, I’ll lose my credibility. When in reality my testimony and credibility mean nothing if I’m not being honest and authentic with the story I’m telling people. If I tell someone that a hard thing happened and I was filled with faith and never doubted and God turned it around when in reality I questioned God and myself at every step and He still turned it around there is no grace for them. How discouraging to think He will only show up if they have everything together like I say I do? That is how I got into this predicament in the first place, listening to people’s white washed testimonies and legalistic religious theories based on performance and works.
As I’ve confronted this lie and re-align my heart and mind with the Truth there has been so much freedom. Freedom from shame that I am not doing enough, freedom to love myself and freedom to love and connect with those around me in a more genuine and honest way. Your relationship with God is your relationship with God. Your journey and your story are beautiful and powerful wherever you are in that journey. It does not have to look a certain way and I should not discount your relationship with God because it does not look like mine or whatever famous preacher I look up to. My hope is that you would seek Him with everything inside of you because He truly is the life-line that will get us through