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The single greatest enemy to our recovery is the state of our minds. Because we have been abused, typically we feel defeated and worthless, which is exactly the message our abusers want us to receive. It’s probably one of the reasons why they abused us in the first place. Although it’s normal to have feelings of worthlessness as a result of these experiences, it’s self-defeating to internalize them and make them part of who you are.

If you want to be a whole person—valuable to yourself and to others—you must renew your mind and reject what your abuser has said about you. Don’t internalize it. If you already have, make a commitment to renew your mind immediately. The way to do this is simple: accept that God loves you and desires your recovery.

The solution is easy, but summoning the courage and the will to transform your mind may be the most difficult thing you ever do. Plus, it’s not a one-time decision. You have to do it every day—sometimes every hour. It’s hard, but the value of making the effort is incalculable.

If you make the commitment and persevere, over time and slowly, you’ll change and become everything God ever intended you to be. If you don’t, you’ll wallow in mediocrity and self-pity for years, perhaps decades. The choice is yours. Renew your mind, or continue to internalize the lies that others have said about you as the truth.

If your desire is to renew your mind and develop godly character qualities, join me in this prayer:

Father,

The darkness has lifted—

Darkness permitted by You

To refine my character,

Purging each of my foolish ways

And making me more like

The person I’m supposed to be—

The person I’ve always wanted to be.

In the midst of my despair,

When at night I longed for the day,

And in the daytime desired it to be evening,

When sorrows made it difficult to breathe,

You were always there beside me,

Even when I was certain You were not.

As fear relentlessly rattled every aspect of me,

You continued transforming who I would become.

Ever mindful of my frailties and weaknesses,

You purged, pruned and cleansed from within.

Then, one day, as I awaited my overwhelming gloom

To return, which had become my daily routine,

It was gone—vanished like it had never been there—

Leaving me stronger, more resilient, and far wiser,

As my mind was renewed from the inside out.

My purpose returned to me, along with my smile.

I embraced life with renewed enthusiasm—

No longer chained to my heartache,

No longer imprisoned by my distress.

Father, thank You for purging my shame

And feelings of worthlessness from me.

Thank You for restoring me to wholeness, amen.

Jack Watts

 


Taking Ownership of Your Problems

 

 

Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

 

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: there is no one to blame.

—Erica Jong

 

In the many years I have been a Christian—some walking with the Lord and some not—I’ve noticed that a large number of believers have an incorrect perspective on life. They attribute their difficulties, especially their interpersonal conflicts, to the Devil. They will say something like, “Satan really has a hold on that person’s life,” or “The Enemy has really been coming against me in this situation.”

Because the Scriptures teach that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of wickedness, conflicts assume a cosmic significance, which often isn’t there. Occasionally, there may be some truth to it, but my experience tells me that most of the problems come from the people themselves and not from forces of darkness. It’s easy to blame the Devil for everything. It absolves the person of taking responsibility for his or her own actions.

For your recovery to work the way it should, you must accept the responsibility for your actions and not take the easy way out of blaming Satan for them. It simply doesn’t work, and in most cases, it isn’t true. When a problem manifests itself, you must always look for your part in it, and the sooner the better. If you’re being honest, you’ll usually find it.

If you’ve been foolish, admit it. Don’t deflect; don’t rationalize; and don’t project your problems onto another. Repudiate the darkness immediately and come to the light. Finally, do whatever is necessary to make amends to the one you’ve offended.

It’s natural to want to avoid the responsibility for your actions, but as a child of God, your behavior must be different. If you’re to become as useful as you desire, looking to the Lord first has to become your engrained response. When difficulties come, as they always do, your reaction is what determines your growth and how valuable your recovery will be.

 

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (I John 1:8-10)

Jack Watts

Trusting God Prayer


Learning to Trust God

 

Father,

As the years pass by,

I often hear people brag

About how much they trust You,

But their pronouncements seem no deeper

Than those of a fickle, self-serving lover.

Their assurances seem so contrived,

Lacking tangibility, resiliency, and authenticity.

Their affirmations, which flow mellifluously,

Invariably have selfish and egotistical motives,

Which are devoid of substance and altruism.

I’ve come to believe it’s because their loyalty

Wasn’t forged in adversity or weathered by hardship.

Their trust in You seems shallow, juvenile, and vapid,

Rather than strong, robust, and unshakable.

Believing that whining and demanding will gain

Your favor rather than genuine humility,

They come before You with greedy hearts—

Hearts that are petulant, peevish, and ungrateful.

 

I understand this perspective completely,

Having spent decades of my life coming before You

In precisely the same self-serving, self-centered way—

Never understanding and never acknowledging

That Your will is perfect—exactly what I need.

I concede my effrontery and selfish motives.

I have foolishly thought my way has been

Better than Yours, but I have been wrong.

I have wanted my way, believing that

When You refused to grant it, You were being

Distant and detached, unloving and uncaring.

I have been wrong about that as well.

Without a doubt, You know what’s best for me,

Regardless of what that might be

.

After years of perusing foolishness,

I understand the error of my ways.

I wish I had understood it sooner,

But I lacked the maturity to do so.

Now, as wisdom settles deep within me,

I acknowledge willingly,

You give and take away;

You give and take away;

You give and take away;

Blessed be Your name.

Jack Watts


Loving Others—Not Just Saying You Do

 

 

Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He desires.

 

A life of kindness is the primary meaning of divine worship.

—Emanuel Swedenborg

 

I’ve learned that what attracts a person to Christ is kindness, mercy, love, and acceptance—not judgmentalism or self-righteousness. Isn’t kindness, acceptance, and forgiveness what drew you to Him in the beginning, along with His love and His mercy?

If He was merciful to you, shouldn’t you follow suit and be merciful to others? In a world full of cruel, condemning people, shouldn’t those who know the Lord practice love and acceptance rather than being so judgmental?

When someone told me God loved me in spite of all my problems and failures, my heart melted, and so did my resistance.

My experience was real when I first believed, but it still required decades for my fruitfulness to develop and become mature. As I was progressing, there were those who thought I should have matured sooner. Because I didn’t, they routinely heaped criticism on me. For a while, it seemed like I would never be free of their misanthropy. Sadly, Christian churches are filled with people who are more than willing to act as your Holy Spirit, condemning nearly everything you do. In Christendom, legalism abounds.

That’s where patience and unconditional love for one another comes in. The Lord has been very patient with me—unlike many Christians. He’s long-suffering with most of His children. That’s because He wants each of us to be everything we are capable of being and, for some, it requires longer than others—occasionally, much longer.

Take a look at Psalm 1. The tree planted by running water yielded its fruit “in its season” and not before. No matter how much an apple is scolded for not ripening sooner, it requires a precise amount of time to be everything it’s meant to be—time measured by God’s clock and not by ours. That’s why we have to be patient and merciful with our Christian friends. Their fruit may not be ready yet, and there’s no way to make it ready until it is. Green fruit is sour and difficult to digest. Ripened fruit, however, is sweet, nutritious, and satisfying.

We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (II Corinthians 2:15-16a)

Jack Watts


The Aftermath of Abuse

 

Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

Everything that is happening is ultimately for the good if we’re willing to face it head-on and use our adversities for soul growth.

—Joan Borysenko

 

Shortly after a person has been wounded by religious abuse, friends of the victim invariably say, “It will be okay. You just have to trust the Lord; that’s all.” With that, they are finished with the issue. No further practical help is offered. After a while, the victim doesn’t even receive a word of comfort from their fellow congregants because people tend to withdraw from someone who has been pushed aside. They simply don’t want to deal with all of the negativity. Who can blame them?

To the victim, however, such advice is meaningless. Instead of helping, platitudes like the one above tend to make a difficult situation even worse. As people withdraw, the abused person is left to deal with the problem by himself or herself. This is when many turn to self-defeating behavior. It provides relief from the pain—a one-day reprieve from reality. It’s also how people become “hooked” on alcohol, prescriptions, or inappropriate relationships—none of which work long-term.

When a person reaches his or her bottom, and there are no other options, that’s when they are finally willing to take the advise of their friends and “trust the Lord.” By this point, their emotional isolation has taken a substantial toll, and the person doubts that their life will ever be worthwhile again. When a person reaches this point, that’s when God’s presence and help become more real than ever. It’s when He touches the places that hurt, providing illumination, insight, understanding, and healing.

All that’s necessary for this to happen is one thing: the person must realize that the responsibility for getting back on tract is theirs and no one else’s. When they reach this point, when they become willing to admit this, their lives can begin to change for the better.

 

Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

Jack Watts


Christianity is brimming with people who want to do great and noble things for God. If you ask them, they’ll tell you how much they are capable of accomplishing. Their aspirations are usually altruistic, noble, and grand. The problem is, more often than not, God doesn’t usually want what they do.

What He wants is for people to do simple, mundane things for others—nothing ostentatious or glamorous. The goal of Christians, who are grandiose, might be to “speak about God’s love to the multitudes,” but that same person might not be willing to run an errand for an indigent person.

That’s the problem. God has far too many men and women who are willing to be exalted, but few who are willing to be menial servants. Many are willing to do grand things, but few are willing to be simple, living their lives unaffectedly just doing the “next right thing” day by day.

In twenty-first century Christian culture, we have a worldly attitude toward service, routinely calculating:

—What’s in it for me?
—How will this further my ambitions?
—How will this enhance my image with others?

After having been abused, however, where the spiritual wind has been knocked out of our sails, our perspective undergoes a radical change. We begin to learn the simple truth that an act of kindness performed at the right time, for the right reason, may be more meaningful from God’s perspective than something calculated to bring us notoriety, fame, or fortune. We begin to recognize that God values small things—where nothing is expected in return—more than grand things well publicized. A small thing is a small thing, but faithfulness in doing a small thing is a big thing.

If your desire is to be simple, doing the next right thing, join me in this prayer:

Father,

When I came to You in my distress,

I wanted You to “make everything better,”

To nurse my bruises like my mother once did

When I was a little boy and hurt myself—

To tell me that I would be okay and

My pain would vanish and soon be forgotten.

But that’s not what You did nor what You intended.

Instead, You made it crystal clear that

I could not nurse my wounds in solitude,

Nor take pleasure in the bitter fruit of self-pity.

Instead, You insisted that I “suck it up” and be an adult,

Stretching me far beyond my comfort zone,

Insisting that I be more open, honest, and vulnerable

Than I have ever been in my entire life.

You guided me, leading me to do

The next right thing, regardless of what

The consequences might be, regardless of the outcome.

Despite my fears and my desire to hide my circumstances,

Which I mask with a disingenuous smile,

I obeyed, doing the next right thing, one day at a time.

Knowing that following Your will was my only option,

Even when being obedient looked like

A weak and foolish thing to do,

I sucked it up and did what I knew to be right,

Time after time, until doing so became natural and easy.

Father, You know Your plans for me, and I do not.

I cannot see the future nor understand it—not even a little,

But I know that by following my conscience,

Even when it would have been easier to walk away,

Something of value has been created within me,

Which has never been part of my character.

Now, I feel whole and enjoy the simplicity of doing

Nothing more than the next right thing, amen.

Jack Watts


Father,

Allow me to serve others with gladness,

Without keeping score or being resentful.

With gratitude in my heart for all that

You have given me so freely, allow me to be

Always giving, never expecting to receive.

Allow me to give of myself,

To give of my talents and of my goods,

To give of my time and of my energy,

To give of my heart and of my soul.

Help me understand the needs of others,

Never criticizing,

Never demeaning,

Never scolding,

Never condemning.

You have been so gracious to me,

Always Loving,

Always forgiving,

Always restoring—

Never chastising me for failing,

Even though my actions have been misguided

More times than I can remember.

Father, keep a condemning spirit

Far from my heart and further from my lips.

Allow me to serve others with gentleness,

With compassion and tenderness,

Never diminishing the value of another.

Let me extend mercy to the brokenhearted,

Just as You have done for me.

Jack Watts

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