Pushing Past Our Ugly
Jennifer SlatteryAuthor and speaker Jennifer Slattery has addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation and her love for seeing others embrace freedom in Christ is evident in each of her six contemporary novels and on her devotional blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As Founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit with Jennifer on Facebook at JenSlatte.
- 2018 Jun 05
We’ve all got an ugly side. Some of us may hide it better than others, but it’s there, lurking, waiting for an opportune time to rise up—when we’re stressed or hungry or tired or caught off guard by something.
I like to hide mine behind smiles and all the proper Christian phrases and responses. Either that, or I try to muster up all the Christian-good within me, and by sheer will, behave as I know every loving Christian woman should. But this is a surface solution, and a highly ineffective one at that.
There’s a third option, one I used to turn to so often, my actions became a habit I perfected and that’s this—hiding. If I keep others at a distance and limit my interactions, and by all means, avoid any situations that could trigger the ugly within, then all will be fine.
I’ll be able to maintain that nice, genteel demeanor that so impresses me in other Christian woman.
But in doing that, I’ll be disobeying God’s command to love others as Christ loved me.
Love goes deep. Love risks. Love unveils.
The solution runs much deeper than painted on smiles and proper Christian behavior. If we truly want to change, to begin replacing our ugly with an inner beauty, we need to prayerfully get to the root of our actions and reactions.
Everyone has an emotional trigger, and often, that trigger is connected to an inner lie, such as:
I’m not good enough
I’m a failure
It’s also often connected to past hurts, wounds that, over time, turned to a relational “law” we’ve come to embrace, such as:
People can’t be trusted/depended upon
Everyone leaves eventually
People will only use you
I won’t get what I deserve
I won’t get what I need
Reading this list, you might notice, all of the above are grounded in fear. But God has called us to love and freedom, a love centered in freedom and a freedom fueled by love.
It’s almost ironic—our fears keep us from true love--relational intimacy, and our lack of living loved feeds our fears.
These fears and underlying lies are different for all of us, but they form the root of so many of our behaviors. The challenge, then, is to prayerfully analyze our emotions and reactions, asking and allowing God to deal with the underlying gunk we’ve allowed to fester.
Our healing and growth are centered in our relationship with Him, as we begin to receive our nourishment and fulfillment, our identity and security, in Christ, the lover of our souls.
Let me give an example. One of my core fears or “laws” is that everyone leaves eventually. This can affect my behavior in numerous ways. Either I’ll pull back at first sign of conflict, or I’ll guard my words when I should speak boldly, or perhaps I’ll act aggressively, trying to finagle the situation to avoid relational repercussions, but things never turn out the way I planned. In trying to fix or prevent an outcome or reaction, I almost always inevitably make the situation worse.
But here’s the truth. People will leave. They’ll abandon, reject, and hurt us. People might even use and manipulate us. But Christ never will. His love is constant and pure. When we rest in that, and base our identity not on what others say or don’t say, do or don’t do, but instead on who we are in Christ—in who He says we are, our hearts are given room to heal, and as they do, beauty rises up within until there’s no room for the ugly.
Let's talk about this! How do you, more consistently, live in grace, and how has that helped your relationships?
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