Emotional Health • 8 minutes to read
It wasn’t so long ago that I had lost all hope for my marriage. Separated from my husband because of his sexual addiction and infidelity, I was barely holding it together. I was living my life as a single mother. I felt as though God was not pleased with me and that I had disappointed Him. My life was out of control.
I didn’t have anyone to turn to and no one understood my pain. When I spoke with others about what was happening in my marriage, I was accused of either being the source of the problem or not doing enough to save my marriage. To make matters worse, my girls were sad that their dad was not home and things were extremely tight financially.
After a year-long separation, my husband and I were seeing a marriage counselor. It was my idea to see a counselor, to make sure that my husband’s behavior didn’t infiltrate our marriage again. It was obvious to me that his sexual addiction was the core of our problems, but I could not have been more wrong.
I will never forget the day that rocked my world and sent me reeling toward my own recovery. We had been in counseling for two weeks when the counselor suggested that I receive individual counseling. I will never forget the counselor’s words:
I see Ernie is doing very well in his individual counseling and recovery; I see great progress. Jackie, I’m hearing some things that you are saying and the way you are reacting that I believe we need to work on.
EXCUSE ME?!? Did I just hear the marriage counselor tell me that he wants to see me by myself??
Despite my shock, this began my awareness awakening.
As we begin the New Year, we need to raise our self-awareness. If you are like me, you may have set goals or resolutions for the New Year. But, how often have we set New Year’s resolutions and failed at our attempts to change? Could it be that our internal self is not on board with our decision because of what we truly think of ourselves and our self-talk?
Allow me to share with you an acronym that helped me strengthen my self-awareness: S.E.L.F.
Examine Your Heart
Prior to my life-altering counseling session, I did experience a personal breakthrough. It was important for me to maintain my commitments despite our separation. During this time, our church was having a marriage conference and I had volunteered to help with the event, even though my marriage was quickly falling apart.
The event started with worship music.
Let me tell you, I was resistant to engage. How could I worship God when He knew how much of a failure I was and that my marriage was hopeless?
Despite my resistance, all of a sudden it hit me—the love of God. All I could do was raise my hands and cry out to my Heavenly Father. In that moment, I realized I cannot live this life without Him. While the room was filled with several hundred people, I felt only the presence of God. It was as though He whispered to me, “Enter into my presence and seek Me. Not for what I can or cannot do. Not for what I will or will not do. Seek Me.”
God surrounded me with His love.
Through His gentle leading, the Lord helped me release all the bitterness, brokenness, and pain I was experiencing. The next thing I knew, I was in a corner of the room on my face. I completely surrendered myself to Him.
I recognized that I was holding back on God because of the pain I was experiencing. I had to surrender my will to God.
Examine Your Heart
I had to change my distorted thinking toward myself. The marriage counselor was right! I had to change my core belief and what I had been telling myself.
This was not caused by my husband or what was happening in my marriage; I brought this behavior into the marriage. At the time, my husband experienced similar core beliefs about himself that he also brought into the marriage. We had a wild and crazy cycle going on—I felt worthless because of the rejection and became critical of him. In turn, he felt misunderstood, which led him to react stubbornly toward me. As our behaviors toward each other deteriorated, so did our marriage.
What really caused me to recognize the seriousness of my behavior was when I saw my kids act the same way I did; and I’m like, “That is not pretty.”
Because I felt worthless, I felt that my words were not important. I felt that I was not important. I would often start projects not finish them. I didn’t believe I could accomplish anything great. In my head, I would make excuses for why I couldn’t accomplish anything. In many ways my behaviors were self-sabotaging. If I set the tone for others that I am imperfect and not capable, then when I failed, people would not be surprised because I already informed them of my imperfection.
I recognized that I am responsible for my own healing and, in many ways, for the healing of my core beliefs. I had to stop seeing myself so negatively in order to change my core beliefs. I had to start paying attention to what was going on inside my heart and mind.
In order to have a healthy self-awareness, I needed to have an awareness of God. An awareness that He is my refuge at all times. Because of His great love for me, He desires that I walk in freedom, wholeness, and purpose. I allowed Him to show me the real me. What I had been harboring in my heart was self-pity, bitterness, unforgiveness, judgment, and more. Wow! That was really the condition of my heart? I had hidden it very well.
I was running away from the deepest part of myself, but God had to bring it to the light to eradicate it. This had to happen to bring healing in my life and allow Him to direct my footsteps. This gave me the understanding that God desires relationship with me and He will walk this journey of wholeness and freedom with me.
He is our creator. So if anyone knows what is going on inside of our heart, it’s Him.
As I go through the process of seeking God and examining my heart, only then will I get to a place of understanding my own thoughts and behaviors. I begin to develop a clear picture of who I am in Christ. The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God has created us with purpose and design. I want my Heavenly Father to get the glory for how I live my life. I want to produce good fruit in my life, based on living out all He has created me to be.
If I did not seek God and allow Him to expose my heart—revealing its contents so that I could work on my own healing—it would be difficult for me to realize these two important truths:
First, that God truly loves me for who I am; to fully know that I am loved and accepted by Him. God will never turn His back on me.
Second, I need to love and accept myself. I’m not perfect, nor do I try to be, but I strive to live my life in the purpose that God intended.
Both my husband and I have learned that we can’t give what is needed in our relationship if we don’t love ourselves first. We can’t continue to hold on to our issues and not accepting our true self. We would not be able to be vulnerable and grow in intimacy and health.
Everything we go through in life can strengthen us and build our character or we can allow it to destroy us. If we don’t know who we are, and whose we are, we can’t love ourselves. We will not be able to live in the abundance of all God has for us.
Ask yourself these questions:
What makes me me?
What are the gifts and characteristics that God has created in me, so that I can walk in the fulfillment of His love?
When I find myself drifting back into negative behaviors, once again, I seek God and examine my heart. This is vital for lifelong healing.
The enemy of our soul thrives in shame and condemnation. He loves to continue to bring up our past and beat us over the head with it. However, when we are aware of our thoughts, it enables us to continually examine and work on our heart.
When God was exposing the sin in my life and the core condition of my heart, I could have easily slipped into a deep depression, into a deep hole. But, God loves us so much that He has to expose our sin; so that we won’t continue living in sin and allow it to dictate our lives. Sin is a tool of the enemy of our soul. He uses to keep us unaware of the path of destruction; a path where he would like us to go.
If we allow the shame and guilt of our sins, or our past, to stay dominate in our heart, we will not be able to forgive ourselves. Unforgiveness will influence our core beliefs about ourselves and others. It will distort our view of the situations in our life.
If I can forgive myself, then I will be able to forgive others as well.
With the freedom and health God has given me, I am able to ask forgiveness of those I have hurt. During this healing journey, God revealed to me a part I played in the breakdown of my marriage. My thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors toward my husband were offensive. I asked my husband’s forgiveness. I believe this act of forgiveness was foundational in the restoration of our marriage.
As you go into this New Year, do your S.E.L.F awareness check. If you find yourself feeling stuck, reach out for help and support as you go through the process. This is one of the many things I love about Pure Desire groups. In our groups we are made aware of our past trauma and process its effect on our lives; we work through anger and forgiveness. This helps create true, positive, and healthy core beliefs about ourselves.
Joining a Pure Desire group was the catalyst that allowed me to dig deeper, finding those hidden core beliefs that were plaguing my self-talk. If you have experienced betrayal or struggle with sexual addiction, I invite you to gain a healthy self-awareness by joining a Pure Desire group.
Embrace this season of change.
Happy New Year!