When I think of the word “discipline”, nothing good comes of it. It takes me back to when I was a child and too many adults were trying to make me behave “properly”. I look back on those adults and they had no clue themselves.
Some still don’t.
So I prayed about this post and felt moved to write about a type of discipline I’m just now learning in my 40’s. Disciplined thinking.
Now, let me begin with highlighting the “in my 40’s” because I have completely sucked at thinking positive about myself until that point in time. And it is still a daily battle.
For a good part of my life I was told, made to feel, and believed that I was not worthy of love, was not good enough to be loved, and would never measure up. There was always far too much focus on how I was failing and it seemed to me that no one noticed when I wasn’t.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Because when you live as though you are loved, you start loving others better. You don’t look for others’ faults and short-comings, you look for their story, their journey, what struggles they’ve endured.[/pullquote]So I internalized all of it. I believed it. I lived it. I have done things in my life that would correlate with the belief that I’m truly not all that special. I’ve dressed in a way that demonstrated this belief. I’ve behaved in amazingly embarrassing ways.
But then I met God. I started reading what he thought about me. How he created me. How much he loves me. How he planned for my very existence.
And look how much he loves us!!!
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. ~ Romans 8:35-39 (MSG)
I’ve never known a love like this. And it is so beautiful. In all my struggles with discipline this is the most positive discipline I can give myself: to live these words. To believe these promises. To live loved.
Because when you live as though you are loved, you start loving others better. You don’t look for others’ faults and short-comings, you look for their story, their journey, what struggles they’ve endured. And just like God accepts me for the amazingly imperfect mess that I am, it is so much easier when you live loved to accept others in their own amazingly imperfect mess.
Every day I have to discipline my mind to believe God’s word for me and not the things that I’ve heard from people who do not have this unconditional love for me. I’ve had a number of relationships with people who have bragged about being nice, kind, loving, giving, helpful, beautiful, understanding, sweet, and all those lovely flowery words, who did not return the same to me. And when I had enough, I’m a bitch, liar, user, manipulator, back-stabber, and so on and so forth.
For many, too many, years I would believe the latter, even though these people were the ones who hurt me very deeply. I thought I was all those things. I would go days playing those words over in my mind. Letting them take over. Allowing them to consume me.
Then God. Over the past few years, God has removed all of those feeding into my negative thinking and replaced them with people who encourage me and remind me, when needed, of God’s unconditional love for me and his purpose for my life, and it has taught me to embrace all the good things I am and let go of the beliefs that I’m not those good things.
I’ve been in very dark places, through depression and negative thinking, but God came into those dark places, unafraid, and brought me out. Even when I fought him, he patiently and lovingly nudged me with his word, song, and my sisters in Christ. I believe the amazing women that God brought to my life were his gift.
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. ~ Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)
Sometimes you have to take a look around and see who you have surrounded yourself with. If there is anyone in your life that makes you feel less than what God has created you to be, you need to clean house. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is allowing negative people in my life because they drown out the truth.
Is there anyone in your life that is drowning out God’s truth?