I am auditing a class this semester for the first time since we’ve been here. It has been an enlightening experience, to say the least. The class is titled “Spiritual Warfare”, and it is taking a toll on my heart. Not in a bad, “everything is controlled by Satan” type of way, but instead I have a greater awareness of my own rebellious spirit, running from God, even when so abundantly blessed and loved by Him.
Part of our lesson this past week was on “Guiding Fictions.” This was not a phrase I had ever heard before, and I doubt many have, so let me try to explain. A guiding fiction is a wrong assumption about how to get our basic psychological needs of security and significance met. It is that which we live by, something that we rule our life by, strive for, our reality. It guides our actions, and yet it is fiction. Fiction in that it is based on worldly desires, worldly success. It is not truth as defined by our life in Christ.
Some examples of a guiding fiction would be….
- I am secure when everything is under control.
- I am secure when I am in a relationship or married.
- I am significant when I am financially secure.
- I am significant when others approve of me, and no one criticizes me.
- I am secure when I am perceived as physically attractive.
Haven’t we all been guided by some of these in our life? There are so many more that I could name, ways in which I have allowed these untruths to lead me in my life. But the truth is, Christ is who we truly get our needs of security and significance met through. In Christ, we are:
- God’s child
- a friend
- blessed with gifts
There are so many Scripture verses that help us to know our identity in Christ. I have listed many of them at the end of this post, and I encourage you to read through them, and write them upon your heart. It is only in His truth that we can be set free from the lies of the world, those lies that would have us feel worthless, insignificant, ugly, hated.
I have struggled with the lie of beauty, the lie that we must make ourselves physically attractive in whatever way possible. We are all born imperfectly beautiful, with a beauty that radiates from a lovely soul. It is our worldly (and especially our Western) views that distorts what is beautiful and negates it, twists it. I have bought fully into to the lie that I needed to succumb to others views of what is beautiful and try to make myself fit within that mold. As a woman, I believe these pressures are greater on our gender. As a mother, I want my children to live into who they truly are, rather than trying to fit into the world’s standards. I want to teach them what has taken me so many years to learn.
My entire life I have struggled with weight issues, even as a small child. I was the chubby kid in our family, and was teased mercilessly by my siblings over it. Though I was somewhat athletic, those pounds stuck, and accumulated. College and the dorm food buffets didn’t help. It has been a lifelong challenge, and it affected my self-esteem greatly. I was never confident in who I was, much less how I looked. I hated looking in the mirror. Hated seeing my reflection in a window. Hated the way my thighs rubbed together when I walked, the way my stomach would roll over my pants when I sat. I hated every part of my body, living in the darkness of my soul. There was a blackness in my spirit, and it was eating away who I was, who I was created to be. Though I tried to hide my negative self-talk from others, it was a constant dialogue in my head.
With my first pregnancy, I started to begin to respect my body more. I was amazed at what it was doing, as it grew this sweet child, nourished her, gave her sustenance and life. Knowing that I was in full participation with God as this miracle inside me grew larger and stronger gave me a new sense of purpose, and a new awareness of what this body was created to do. With the aches and pains of delivery, I found a new strength within me that I never realized before. As I looked upon my daughter, there was an awe that overcame me. An awe in the realization that I helped create a life, that this body that I had battered and abused for so long was a co-creator of a miracle…well, that was a pretty spectacular realization. And with the subsequent births of my other children, I felt this same sense of awe and wonder at the miracle of it all.
I still struggle with finding flaws in my body, with fighting against the negative self-talk that is a running commentary within my mind. I am much more careful about saying anything out loud, however, because I do not want my children to hear that. I do not want them remembering their mom as someone who was obsessive about her weight, or who criticized herself constantly. Rather, I want them to have memories of us, as a family, doing things together, being active and healthy. What I am trying to focus on nowadays is my health, and doing what I can to sustain a long and healthy life, in order to see my children grow and be there for the important moments of their lives. I have become a runner in the past few years, and am training to run a race this coming weekend. I have it on my bucket list to run a half and full marathon, and I share these goals with my children. I want them to know that they can find joy in activity, that the health of their bodies is far more important than the look of their bodies.
And the lie, the fiction, of finding security in being perceived as attractive? That there is security in beauty? In youth? Though it still influences me, I know that it IS a lie, and I am trying harder to live in the truth. Beauty fades. We age. The world changes its fickle mind with what its standards of beauty are. Instead, I am living into the truth that my beauty resides in the holiness of my soul. That the place where I have asked His Spirit to reside is made beautiful by the grace and mercy of the Lord. The lilies of the field may have their splendor, but we are far more loved and cared for than even those. That is where my security lies….in the love of a Savior, in the fullness of the life that He offers. That is the truth that I put my hope in, and it is beautiful.
Our Security in Christ: Romans 8:1-2, Romans 8:28, Romans 8:33-34, Romans 8:35, 2 Tim. 1:7, Hebrews 4:16, 1 John 5:18
Our Significance in Christ: Matthew 5:13, John 15:15, 2 Cor. 5:17-20, 2 Cor. 6:1, Eph. 2:6, Eph. 2:10, Eph. 3:12, Phil. 4:13