Seven Lessons I’ve Learned in 49 Years as a Disciple of Christ
Today is my birthday! May 31st, 1969, I was born again. Battling against living in defeat, I have learned life is about walking in intimacy with Jesus Christ. I would like to share with you seven hard learned lessons.
- Forgive others
- Forgive yourself
- Read your Bible
- Shut the gate
- Ditch all negative self talk
- Invite Jesus into your past
- Feelings don’t predicate reality
Lesson 1: Forgive Others
When I was in Iran, Virgil and Martha Amos challenged me to make a list of sins done against me. That was the beginning of acknowledging the abuse I had experienced.
Initially, I thought forgiveness meant abuse I had experienced was okay. But forgiveness does not condone sin or make excuses for the abuser. Forgiveness is the choice to be set free of the identity of being a victim by releasing the perpetrator to the Lord.
Something More by Catherine Marshall helped me continue to walk in forgiveness. This difficult and wonderful path of grieving over the wounds I experienced has taught me I have value. As I have laid my right for vengeance at the foot of the Cross, forgiving the one who wounded me, the Lord has set me free from the mindset and identity of being a victim and covered me with dignity. Today I celebrate life as a person of value.
Lesson 2: Forgive Yourself
It was extremely hard for me to forgive myself. To be honest, sometimes I still struggle with that.
I had been blamed for things I had no control over and for things I had not done. One person regularly blamed me for choices they made. Coming under blame, I became expert in blaming myself for things that were not my responsibility.
False guilt opened a door to the enemy, who blinded me to choices I was personally responsible for, giving him power to hold me captive to blame.
God in His sovereignty, knew every wrong I would ever do. At Calvary, Christ took all blame on Himself. I learned God chose to set His affection upon me. He desires intimacy with me and engages with me to set me free from sin, confusion, and traumatic experiences that once held me locked in a prison of despair.
As I experienced the wonder of His Father heart of love, I learned to forgive myself.
Because He has forgiven you, forgive yourself, then go deeper in forgiving others, by releasing them from the debts they owe you.
Lesson 3: Read Your Bible
One night, after experiencing severe verbal abuse, feeling deep shame and hopelessness, I decided to end my life. As I pressed the old fashioned straight edged razor down on my wrist, the Lord said, “What happened to you tonight was not from Me.”
God was there with me. He repeated His words and I began to weep. You see, I believed God was angry and wanted to hurt me. I asked Him who He was and He challenged me to search the Scriptures.
That night, I made a vow to daily read my Bible so I could learn who He really was. Two months later as the New Year rang in, I was on my knees reading 2 Corinthians 5:19. Light broke through the darkness holding me captive. I understood for the first time God did not murder Jesus, but loving me, He had suffered at Calvary as Jesus died. The lie holding me in terror of God was broken.
I love the Word; it brings sanity in the midst of deep trials. Please make the decision to read your Bible. Even when it feels nothing is happening or you can’t understand it, be faithful. You are laying a foundation and storing God’s words in your heart for the Holy Spirit to illuminate. If you fail to read the Bible, there is little for the Spirit to say, for He always uses God’s Word to speak into your life.
Lesson 4: Shut the Gate
F.W. Boreham taught me this precious lesson. Fearful, I was always second guessing myself or putting myself down. From Boreham, I learned to shut the gate on negative, destructive thoughts.
Fear, doubt, worry, guilt and shame flourish where we have left open a gate, a door or even a tiny window to the enemy of our soul, who will use that opening to take our mind captive.
Shut the gate. Reject the fear and hurtful words in your mind. Then turn on the Light by speaking God’s Word out loud. When hit by fear or anger or longing for your drug of choice, shut the door to thoughts spinning in your head. Physically turn on the light and read or quote Scripture. Bring your thoughts into the present. Look at Jesus. Singing about the blood of the Lamb or singing God’s words has great power.
If you are still frightened, let Jesus be your Protector. Ask Him to answer the door for you. He is able to send the enemy packing.
Lesson 5: Ditch All Negative Self-Talk
When one has experienced abuse, it is easy to be held captive to the “If only’s,” the “What if’s”, the “I should have’s” or “I could have’s”. Such self-talk is destructive for it brings a curse.
Negative self-talk is an assault on your personhood. If you do not say to others what you are saying to yourself – then your words are sin. Stop crushing your spirit with word curses.
Instead, choose life. Speak blessing and life over yourself. Again, speak Scripture. You are more than a conqueror in Christ. You are His beloved. You are chosen. You are engraved on the palm of His hand. You are the child of the Heavenly Father.
Lesson 6: Accusations Are From the Enemy
Blame is a tool of the enemy who wants you to join him in accusing yourself. He wants you to believe lies. Like: It is impossible for God to forgive you. Things were better for you before you were saved. No one cares about you. You are worthless. You have committed the unpardonable sin. You are beyond God’s forgiveness.
The Accuser points his finger and accuses you of who and what he is. Don’t accept his words as your truth. Don’t walk in accusation. Shut the door! Turn on the Light! Invite Jesus to stand between you and those accusations.
A dear lady taught me accusations are from the Accuser of the brethren, not the Lord. She had me memorize, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2).
This verse has been made into a lovely little song you can sing to imprint this truth upon your heart. Be quick to use this verse against the enemy.
If you allow accusations to churn in your mind, you open the door to the Accuser to wreck havoc and take you captive. It is good to ask questions to gain understanding but do that in the presence of Jesus. At all costs, avoid self-accusations or calling yourself names.
Lesson 7: Invite Jesus Into Your Past
There was a time I carried an ocean of pain. As I shared with a dear friend, Hilary Musk, she asked the question. “Have you ever invited Jesus into your memory?” That question resonated with my heart.
From that time, when I experienced overwhelming pain due to a past memory, I asked Jesus to walk with me through it. He is the Healer of broken hearts. He knows every pain, every tear, every hidden fear. And He conquered it all at Calvary. Proof of His sufficiency is the Resurrection. Because Jesus lives, there is healing from every wound.
Rather than sink down into depression or grief without hope, remember Jesus is there with you. He was with you when you were wounded. He cares for you. Through His blood, you may conquer the enemy trying to hold you into the prison of your past.
+1 Bonus: Feelings Don’t Predicate Reality
One of my favorite sayings is “Feelings do not predicate reality”. I grew up feeling unloved, therefore, I believed I was unlovable. When the Lord tried to speak into my life of His love, I couldn’t receive it or believe it unless I felt good feelings from doing things for Him.
As wrong things still happened in spite of my seeking to follow Him, I felt depressed. The more I thought of how depressed I felt, the more I felt depressed. And the less I felt God loved me or even cared about me.
John instructed us to test the spirits. Not all spirits are truthful, in fact, only One is – the Holy Spirit of God. Unholy spirits play with our mind and our feelings. They desire to steal, kill, and destroy the life of Christ within us. We need to learn to shut the door to those feelings, turn on the light by reading the Word of God, and claim one of the precious promises as our truth to walk in.
Learning to shut the door and turn on the light, I have found I am never alone. The Lord is with me and enables me to stand in the truth of my identity in Christ.
As a result, I have learned feelings lie. They are insistent and clamor so loudly we cannot hear the voice of the Lord. Because feelings feel so strong – we are taught they must be true. But the enemy of our soul uses our feelings to make us believe lies and take us captive to do its will.
You may feel overwhelmed with accusing thoughts holding you into the darkness of defeat. You may feel there is no hope. But Jesus Christ is greater than the darkness of your feelings. Allow Him to walk with you out of the darkness into the Light.
Life is a wonderful adventure of learning to experience the wonder of being loved by the Lord. Choose life, my friend. Choose life!