God at Work, Personal Growth

What Are You Thinking?

Who would have thought that the way we think about our lives, our past, our future, relationships, or even our finances could keep us stuck or propel us forward into a better life. I’ve been reading in Romans 12 off and on and meditating on it for the last two years it seems like. God continues to open my eyes to the importance of standing in agreement with His word and the way He sees life.

I could talk about each of the above areas but for today, I’ll speak on one area that has been particularly painful for me. For most of my life I struggled with how I saw my physical body. I hated it at times and abused it. I’ve talked badly about it, rejected it with hostility and anger. The abuse of my body became the accepted method I used to punish myself for things that happened earlier in life. Being a survivor of childhood abuse, which was outside of my control, and then perpetuating that same pattern of rejection and abuse on myself was a bitter pill to swallow. Both carried an enormous amount of shame that I’ve had to deal with later in life.

When you’ve experienced abuse it changes you, you see yourself as lacking so you immediately feel a deficit. Then, the world has a certain criterion that must be met to be accepted. We are overly influenced by magazine pictures, celebrities, designer clothing, etc. When we judge ourselves based on the world’s view of what or who is important, it is impossible to measure up. Over time, when rejection becomes ingrained in your thoughts, you start to only see the way life is stacked against you and the negative feelings of lack and rejection grow deeper.

The filter that I looked through for most of my life was wrong and it wasn’t until I compared it to the word of God that I realized how wrong it was. Until the day I received Christ into my life the old filter was conformed to the world’s way of doing and thinking.

The word tells me in Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV), I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

When I looked at this phrase “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” it hit me straight in the heart and brought tears to my eyes. My physical body is and always was acceptable to God, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is in this body that the spirit of the Living God is carried. Without the body I would not be here, nor would I have had the opportunity to ever know Him. I’ve given myself permission to learn to value this body I’ve been given.

We each have a purpose on this earth and it can only be accomplished in the body. For someone who spent so many years hating it and feeling less than in all areas of life, it was a breath of fresh air. It still is right now as I write this. Instead of trying to be good enough, smart enough, or earn our way into God’s love we simply must accept that we are “acceptable to God.” If we remind ourselves of that every morning before we start the day, there is no fear of failure and no obstacle to obedience. If we lay our heads down on the pillow at night and think about God’s goodness toward us, then we awake with a greater sense of purpose.

The insecurities that would have kept us from obeying God fade away because we know now in our hearts that our acceptance isn’t based on performance but instead based on His goodness and mercy. We find ourselves obeying His promptings because we are secure in the knowledge of His love and are assured that His commands are not for our harm. In the middle of the worst times, when our sin was the worst, God gave us the greatest gift in the form of His Son. In Him we have found a home. In the middle of our life of sin, God still wanted us.

If the enemy can keep us focused on what we aren’t instead of whose we are, we won’t fully accomplish God’s will. Our eye is darkened, and we are kept from realizing our true potential in Christ. As we renew our minds and walk in the understanding of His righteousness or His way of thinking about life on earth, that’s how we let go of the past. The abuse, the addictions, the failures, even the successes we’ve experienced are all subject to change as our minds are renewed to how God sees our situation. As we meditate on God’s word and He shows us how it applies to every part of our lives, it becomes ingrained in us to establish His new life.

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