Finding Freedom: Part 5 – How He Sees Me
Sometimes the “diseased attitudes” we believe are so deep-rooted that our freedom and healing from them comes in stages.
I used to believe, with all my heart— to the very core of my being, in fact— that I was “Exhausting.” That I was a burden. That I was “too much.” That whenever people left my presence they were relieved to not have to be near me anymore. That if I were to ever ask anyone for help or talk about my own struggles or ask for prayer— or even share about the true matters of my heart— then I would be even more burdensome than I already was.
I wasn’t consciously aware of this, mind you. It was years before I realized what was going on.
Even so, unbeknownst to me, my belief in that message and my fear of being seen as needy or “high maintenance” manifested itself in the following ways: I was disconnected from community, silent in my marriage, busy trying to prove my self-sufficiency as a mother of two toddlers, undiagnosed yet clinically depressed… and utterly. completely. weary. All of the time.
Turns out, it is exhausting to try to prove to yourself and the rest of the world that you’re not Exhausting.
One day, as I sat down with the Lord and finally tapped into what it was that was making me feel and act the way I was feeling and acting, I realized what the problem was: I genuinely believed that I was a burden to everybody I came into contact with.
Once I finally realized this, I immediately took it to God and said “Okay, Lord, this is the message that I hear… that “I am a burden”… what do You have to say about that?”
For months, God faithfully taught me about my worth and about His love for me. He generously helped me learn more about who I was and how I had been built so that I would be able to understand myself more thoroughly. He gave me the courage to ask for help now and again. And to speak up in transparency and vulnerability with a few trusted friends, including, eventually, my sweet husband. He gave me permission to rest. He reminded of me of His immeasurable capability and He led me to verses like
“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
Truth after truth and healing encounter after healing encounter, He poured His love all over me.
But still… I didn’t believe it all. There was a huge disconnect for me between all of that and how I felt. Because, you see, sometimes how you feel and what is true don’t exactly line up the way you might think they ought to.
After months of hearing God’s truth and still not feeling satisfaction over this particular issue, I finally gathered up all my courage and dared to ask my husband what he thought of it all. Fearful, and fully ready for him to tell me “Yeah, honey, you actually are pretty exhausting,” I was shocked when he, with all sincerity, responded with “Exhausting?!? You’re not exhausting! You’re… exhilarating! You’re so full of love and intelligence and passion and creativity. I’ve never seen anyone dislike you or not feel encouraged after being with you.” And he went on, even giving me specific examples of times when his friends and co-workers spoke highly of me.
To be honest, he seemed pretty genuine when he was saying all of this. So genuine, in fact, that I wrote down what he said so that I could remember it… just in case it was actually true.
But honestly? I still didn’t buy it. “He’s probably just telling me all those nice things because he wants to have sex with me,” I told myself dismissively.
So I decided to ask my best friend. “She doesn’t have ulterior motives,” I thought. “She’ll tell me the real truth when she sees how much I really want to know.” So on a hike one day, I cautiously and tearfully brought it up to her as well— and begged her to please tell me the truth.
Yet she, too, wholeheartedly assured me that I was off. “You’re not exhausting at all! You are energizing, Kristi!” she declared. “Whenever people are with you, they feel inspired and encouraged and… better off… for having spent time with you.” Seeing I was doubtful, she went on: “Seriously, Kristi, you need to let that go. It’s, like… the exact opposite of the truth, girl.”
It seemed too good to be true. Although I still doubted, I promised my bestie I would start to really try to believe what she (and God and my husband) had told me.
So I was a bit better for awhile… But then, months later, I felt that “You are a burden” message creeping up again. Finally sick of the power this particular mental taunt had over me, I threw up my hands and said to God “Lord, this is ridiculous! I really need closure on this one. Please, Lord… please tell me the truth: How do YOU see me???”
Immediately, I had a vision of being in an old, sticky, sun-bleached diner. I was sitting in one of the booths near the window and, a few booths over, I could see an old woman laughing. Her face was completely covered in wrinkles and dimples and laugh lines. And she was laughing her wrinkled old head off. There was joy—real, true, visible joy— shining out of her eyes. Her mirth was contagious, I tell you. She was enchanting to me. The way she laughed, and the way she glanced at me and sort of winked at me as she laughed, made me want to saunter right on over there and laugh right along with her even though I had no idea what was so funny.
After watching her, captivated for a few moments, I asked God again “Okay, so… uh… this is great and all, but, uh… what does this have to do with me?”
And then I heard Him say, clear as a bell,
“That is how I see you, Kristi.”
Well, okay then.
And I will tell you something, friend: I finally believed Him. At last, I was satisfied and felt like I finally “got” the truth God had been trying to show me all along.
I can’t tell you how very freeing that has been! I am no longer disconnected from community, silent in my marriage, busy trying to prove my self-sufficiency as a mother. I am no longer afraid to ask for help, afraid to talk about my struggles or to ask for prayer. I’m no longer utterly, completely weary all of the time.
As a matter of fact, I am free.
And now, years later, even though I still sometimes hear that old “You are exhausting” cat calling me from time to time, all I have to do is recall that wrinkly old lady in the diner, laughing her beautiful, happy head off, and I find myself able to walk in confidence and freedom to be my real, true self, knowing it’s simply not true.
[This is Part 5 of a five-part series unpacking the process of learning how to tune into what our good, truth-telling God wants to say to us about the (sometimes toxic) messages we hear in our minds. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
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What about you?
Have you ever felt like God healed you in layers? How have you taken to heart the truths He has been speaking to you recently?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.