Last month, I shared about my Mom’s journey to finding her significance in Jesus, and how watching her life I learned that the first step in finding your significance is choosing to have our own personal relationship with Jesus. As we understand how much loves us, and we learn that it is His love that makes us significant. That is the foundation of finding your significance.
This week we’re moving onto the next step of building on that foundation and trusting God to heal the hurts in your heart that are causing a significance crisis.
This is where I can step outside of the realm of what I’ve seen in others, and share my own story.
You see, I don’t just know women who struggled with significance issues—I have been a woman who struggled with finding her significance. Even though I accepted Jesus as my personal savior when I was 5 years old and have had a personal relationship with Him throughout my life, I still struggled with my own battles to find my significance.
I struggled with finding significance in my appearance. Even though it’s difficult to imagine now, I battled the pull toward eating disorders, being obsessed with my appearance and how I looked. There was a definite feeling of significance when my health was poor and my weight and the size of my jeans was down.
I tried to find my significance in success, determined that I was going to get out of the small town that ironically, I still live in. Although I knew I was called into ministry, it was going to be an ultra-successful ministry where there was A LOT of money. I thought the jet-setting lifestyle of being a rich, career-oriented minister would bring me much more significance than being a servant-minded minister.
Another big thing that I struggled with was my desire to get married, not necessarily for love, but because I felt that being married would validate me as a person. If I was someone’s wife then I would be significant. If someone loved me, then I would be special.
Even though I loved Jesus and wanted to follow His will for my life, I still struggled with these issues throughout my teenage years and into my early adult life in college. Then when I graduated from college everything came to a head and I had to deal with my issues of significance in a way that I’d honestly ever imagined before.
You see, you have to understand that up until this time I was doing a pretty good job hiding the fact that I struggled with insignificance because I was always pretty successful. I did well in school. Kept my appearance up. People thought highly of me. It seemed like I was the girl on the move—going places, getting out of my small little down, and destined to live happily ever after.
Only that’s not what happened. Instead, when I graduated from college, God didn’t allow anything in my life to work out the way I planned. Not only was I single, but no doors (even though I’d knocked on a lot of them, and even tried to knock down a few) opened up to me.
Instead, I returned home a failure….with no plans…no hope…and really no idea who I was or what I wanted to be. I was angry, disappointed, hurting, disillusioned, and having a serious identity crisis. I mean, if I wasn’t going to be somebody’s wife, who and what was I going to be? Even more importantly, who did God want me to be? What did He want to do with my life?
It was along the way to finding the answers to these questions, that I began my own personal journey to finding my identity and significance in Jesus Christ.
For me, that meant dealing with many of the hurts and pains in my heart and mind that were creating a significance crisis in my life. Even though the next thing on my “to-do” list was finding a job or a husband so my life would make sense again, the next thing on God’s “to-do” list was dealing with my past so that I could find my identity as His daughter.
The choice that He led me to next was, “Are you willing to take a time out and overcome your past?”
I remember it like it was yesterday. We were driving home from church on a Sunday afternoon when the Holy Spirit starting revealing truth to me. The specific truth had to do with my relationship with my Dad. For the first time in my life I was being forced to face the truth that it wasn’t good and it was having a profound impact on my life.
To be honest, I wasn’t really shocked that my Dad and I didn’t get along. Everyone knew that. My Mom and brother always joked that we got along like a cat and a dog—always at odds.
The truth that the Holy Spirit was forcing me to see on this Sunday afternoon was that it wasn’t my fault. Believe it or not, that was a pretty hard truth to face.
You see, even though it was obvious that my Dad and I didn’t agree on anything, I’d always seen it as my fault. (Mostly because my Dad told me it was my fault.) I was rebellious. I was too driven. I wanted too much out of life. I was never satisfied. I was difficult.
My Dad, on the other hand, wanted everyone to believe that he was basically perfect. When my Dad and I constantly butted heads because my type-A personality didn’t fit into his definition of how a female should behave, I was unsubmissive, rebellious, disrespectful, or unappreciative of how great he really was.
Eventually, my Dad’s attitude toward me left me with a lot of confused ideas.
Is this how God felt about women?
Did God really want women to squelch their personalities and capabilities to make men feel better?
Did all men feel the way my Dad did?
By the time I graduated from college these questions were tying me up in knots. To a point, I had lost myself, trying to be the kind of woman a man would want. I was basically a chameleon.
Based on my Dad’s lies that there must be something wrong with me and no man would ever want to marry someone with my personality, I tried to contort my personality or abilities into what I thought would make me more appealing. If I was interested in a man, I did everything I could to become the woman I thought he’d want. The whole time the original me was all locked up in a box, while I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I wasn’t happy and God wasn’t pleased.
It was time to face the truth.
I wish I could tell you that facing the truth was a once and done experience, but I can’t. Instead, it was like a rather long process of facing as much truth as I could handle, processing it, choosing to believe the truth instead of lies, forgiving, and learning new ways of thinking.
It was kind of like an onion—there were many layers of pain and lies that had to be uncovered. With each layer there was pain, truth, healing and ultimately freedom from the lies that were controlling me. Of course, as each layer was uncovered and healed I also gained more and more freedom to stop believing lies and start being myself.
I’ll be honest with you and admit that the journey to finding your significance really is a journey. Along the way, you have to choose to take the right paths that will lead you into complete healing.
For me that meant choosing to spend lots of time spent alone with God, praying through the issues of my heart, remembering things I didn’t really want to remember.
Then came the choices to forgive my Dad whether he was repentant or not.
I had to choose to study the Bible to learn new behavioral patterns that I could apply to my life.
As a family and individually, I spent a lot of time in counseling and working with a minister trained in spiritual deliverance. I highly encourage anyone who is struggling with their significance that if you need the help of a counselor—get it. Don’t think it’s a waste of time or money—it isn’t—it’s an investment in the rest of your life.
I did a lot of talking to people I could trust and A LOT of journaling.
The healing and overcoming wasn’t magical by any means. It took a lot of work and honestly, constantly choosing over and over again that we would allow God to take us through this entire process of overcoming our past and setting me free.
Although the journey required effort, I have absolutely no regrets that I chose to allow God to take this time in my life and set me free from my past. Without a speck of doubt, it was one of the best choices I made in my life.
Because I couldn’t become the woman God wanted me to be, (heck I couldn’t even be myself), or do any of the things He wanted me to do until the lies and abuse that were scrambling my heart and mind were healed.
When I choose to agree with God and allow Him take me through the process of overcoming my past, God was able to heal my brokenness and replace it with wholeness and the opportunity to finally find my identity in Him. That’s when God was finally able to show me who I was in His eyes and I was finally able to find my significance in Him.
Perhaps today, you find yourself in the same place—choosing whether or not to allow God to heal the issues in your past that are stealing your significance. If so, I want to encourage you to GO FOR IT!!! Don’t hesitate and don’t let fear stop you.
Even though it may take time and it may hurt, after you have worked through the process you will never regret it. Why? Because it is the ONLY road to healing, hope, and finding your true value and significance in Jesus.
Dear Kind Heavenly Father,
Lord, we come before you today as broken women. Father, you know that each one of us has experienced things in our lives that have damaged our souls and stolen our significance. Yet, we know that you have the power to heal. Today, we give you permission to start the healing process in our lives. Whatever it takes, we want to be whole, healthy women who truly live out the destinies You have designed for us. Today we choose healing and trust You to help us on the journey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.