Trade Your Brokenness for Wholeness
- Monday, March 12, 2007
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Stop pretending that you’re happy all the time; know that it’s okay to express anger, anxiety, and depression when you’re experiencing those feelings. Remember that God looks at your pain with compassion. Be honest with Him and other people about your real emotions. Acknowledge and accept all your feelings, including the ones wish you didn’t have. Understand that you can learn from your emotions. Pay attention to your painful feelings to discern what they’re telling you and how you can respond wisely. Ask God to use your painful emotions to help you grow as a person. Invite Him to teach you what He wants to teach you through them. If your emotions are interfering with your relationships or performance at work or in school, seek help from a pastor, counselor, or doctor to manage them better. When you get lost in your emotions, don’t try to escape them through alcohol, drugs, food, sex, or some other distraction. Instead, ground yourself in the present moment by making a point to notice what you’re experiencing with your senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, etc.), and look for how God is at work at that very moment in your life. Coach yourself toward healthier thinking patterns, and remind yourself of Scripture passages that reassure you. Make a chart of important events in your life and use it to remind yourself of how God has worked in your life so far. If you’re overwhelmed by your emotions throughout each day, contain them by scheduling brief, specific blocks of time to feel anger, anxiety, or depression, then stop doing so when the time is up. Record your feelings in a journal you can read and reflect on later. Engage in as many pleasant activities as you can each day. Get your mind off your own problems by reaching out to help other people through a service project. Do relaxation exercises like deep breathing.
Build healthy self-esteem. Ask God to help you view yourself as He sees you – as someone who is worthy of respect and love. Don’t believe the lie that you can never be good enough; recognize that God meets you wherever you are. Know that, thanks to Jesus’ work on the cross, there is no condemnation for those who trust Him. Don’t focus on your sins and weaknesses to the exclusion of the strengths and talents God has given you, and remember that Jesus has redeemed everything in your life. Embrace God’s grace and thank Him for it. Spend some time journaling to get to know yourself better. Write down a description of yourself that includes at least two neutral or positive attributes for every negative attribute you mention. List your interests and talents. Then plan to pursue your interests and use your talents regularly, as often as you can. Let go of trying to be perfect, and extend grace to yourself. Remember what you were like as a child and what messages you heard from others like your parents, teachers, siblings, and friends that hurt you. Consider what ways you internalized those messages, and how you may still be carrying them around. Pray for God to show you how you can begin to let them go. Meditate on God’s unfailing love for you, imagine what He might write in a love letter to you, and write that letter to yourself. Whenever you feel discouraged, read the letter to remind you that you can always rely on God’s love.
Develop a healthy body image. Ask God to help you see your body as He views it – a wonderful creation and a temple for the Holy Spirit that is worthy of respect. Don’t neglect or abuse your body through overeating, extreme dieting, avoiding exercise or exercising excessively, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, etc. Rather than focusing on your physical appearance, focus on what your body enables you to do (such as hike through the woods, eat delicious food, etc.) and thank God regularly for the gift of a functional body. Whenever a negative thought about your body comes into your mind, turn it into a positive thought (for example, instead of thinking about how much you dislike the shape or size of your legs, think about how much you appreciate their strength for supporting you so you can walk). Pay attention to your body’s natural signals to discern when you’re truly hungry and when you’re truly full. Then eat according to those signals rather than according to an arbitrary schedule. Wear clothes that fit you comfortably now, whether or not you lose the weight you hope to lose. Honor God with your body. Use your body to learn more about God, such as by fasting in order to focus more on prayer for a set time period. Instead of thinking of your body in terms of pieces (“My smile is nice, but my nose is too big.”), think of your body as a cohesive whole that is all good because God created it. Remember, too, that you are more than just a body – you’re a whole person with an embodied soul. Ask God to help you see and appreciate yourself in a holistic way.
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