Because I feared the people
and listened to their voice.
—1 Samuel 15:24
Is there any one of us who has not been swayed by what other people have said to us? I doubt that any of us are so well-grounded and close enough with the Lord that what is said to or about us has absolutely no effect on how we feel or what we ultimately do as a result of other people’s opinions.
You may have a mother or father, boss or husband, or even ex-boss or ex-husband whose words continually bombard your mind giving unrest to your soul. For some unknown reason, we automatically embrace hurtful words and choose to believe them—even if the person comes back later to retract what they said. People often blurt out cutting words when they are hurt or frustrated. Unfortunately, because we believe that they meant what they said, we’re choosing to hang on to what inevitably weighs us down and steals our joy. What’s the remedy?
Wounds that Festered
Years ago I was in the midst of such a terrible spiritual battle that had been deeply established within my marriage. My husband (at the time) was struggling (as he always had) with self-worth. When anyone you know or love struggles with this problem of not feeling worthy, it is often remedied by that person putting you (and other people) down shamelessly in order to feel better about themselves.
For what seemed like the umpteenth time, my husband sat me down for almost an hour condemning me for not following the book that I was teaching from, A Wise Woman, and what the group of women I was teaching would think if they really knew me. It was after that umpteenth time, that I finally took what he said to the Lord and asked Him if it was true. I never ever had questioned the validity of it, simply assuming my husband was right. Wow, was I wrong. What I heard was totally different and it literally changed my life. It helped to silence the words that normally would be replayed over and over again in my own head, making me doubt if I should really be ministering to other women.
You know, my Darling, that when we hear the truth it always silences the lies. That is why we must take whatever we hear (especially a bad report about ourselves) to the Lord and talk to Him about it—not waiting until it’s done immeasurable damage, but right away, immediately. The truth is, we know it’s rooted in the enemy who’s made it his mission to steal, kill and destroy us—so making us feel worthless and undeserving is in his wheelhouse right? So he uses those he’s already wounded and enslaved, having them spew out unkind and cutting words he continually feeds them, and then we listen—choosing to believe lies as truth. “Do you not know when you present yourselves to someone as slaves of obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
So why do we continue to play into this web of destruction when our Beloved is just longing to be gracious to us? Since almost all of what is said that hurts us, is actually rooted in the deep hurts of that other person.
What the Lord did that day was so precious, something I’ve never forgotten. He asked me one-by-one if I followed a chapter, beginning with the last chapter of the Wise Woman workbook. He asked me if I followed what it said regarding teaching my own children. I had to reply sheepishly, “Yes.” Next was whether or not I trusted the Lord with my fertility, when He reminded me that I had even risked death, twice, by not following the doctors (who would have jumped to do a hysterectomy when I was hemorrhaging). I replied, “Yes” once again. One-by-one He continued asking me about each chapter, until He asked me if He was my First Love (Chapter 2). Of course, I was thrilled to say, “Oh Yes!!” Then, He ended by asking, “Where is your life (and home) built Michele?” I had to answer, “On You and You alone! My Rock.”
Dear bride, from the moment I heard the truth, that instant, all those horrid condemning voices in my head were silenced. Yes, the accusations actually continued, but only for a short time, and I believe it’s because it no longer affected or rattled me. As a matter of fact, instead of feeling badly or ashamed of myself, when he’d sit me down, I felt only compassion. How horrible for anyone who feels the need to put someone else down all because of feeling so badly about themselves.
Looking back, it’s really not all that surprising, because at the time we were near the end of our marriage, and I, of course, didn’t know he was deeply into adultery. So as a pastor, I’m sure the enemy was bombarding him with all sorts of condemnation and shame—tearing away at him. Sadly, as it is throughout the church, he was never taught to take these “negative” emotions to the Lord, asking Him for the truth. Had he done so, maybe he would have felt convicted by his sin, while at the same time, feeling His tremendous love. This, I believe can get any of us out of the deepest of sins and heal our wounds, His love.
Dear bride, I know that I am not the only one who is living with those negative voices. Just this past week I had the privilege of sharing a few hours with one of my beloved WW group members, who is also one of our church leaders (and who used to work under me). She told me that while I was still working at the church, the enemy had been bombarding her mind, telling her that if I only knew what she was really like, I would tell our senior pastor, suggesting he ask her to step down from her position. Wow, it seems that this is one tactic that the enemy loves to use—probably because it works so well!!
Then, soon after this, I had the same sort of email from two other church leaders—saying if I really knew what they were like I wouldn’t want to associate with them. And each time I was stunned. Then shortly after He showed me it’s not just women here, but it’s the same all over the world. Within a few minutes after landing in Africa, while driving away from the airport, one of my longest and dearest friends (and who’s also a RMI leader working with Erin), turned to me, taking a deep sigh, then bolstered all her courage to confess, “what she was really like.” I listened, knowing this confession had been held back for years. Then, when she finished, all I could do was to lean over to hug her and tell her I struggled with the very same things.
Darling bride, the truth is, we all struggle with the very same things; isn’t that what the Bible says? “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to [wo]man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Then to prevent this onslaught of cutting words that have become so common, we also need to keep in mind this verse—which really helped me discern whether I should ignore something or take it to heart. “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
This means, only IF what’s said is: honorable, right, pure, lovely, it’s true (which means we must always remember to go to Him to see if it’s the truth), and it also needs to be something you want to praise God for. And if it’s not all these things, then don’t let it enter your heart because whatever is being said is not from Him.
Use every vicious word for good, giving you the opportunity to spend deeper times with Him. Simply remember and make it a habit to take each and every question you have about anything, no matter what it is, to the Lord. Ask Him to let you know what He thinks about it. Then sit quietly to listen, and feel drenched in His love, which you can turn around, and shower on everyone around you.