In July 2007 I wrote an article, Making Peace with God and Learning to Trust. I divided the article into 3 parts. Today, I decided to combine the 3 parts of the article to share what helped me to make peace with God and myself so that I could stop wasting time.
MY STRUGGLE TRUSTING
In my recent posts I have been sharing a lot about faith. There was a time in my life that I toyed with a dualistic theology. Dualism essentially states that the mind and body function separately, the world is ruled by antagonistic forces or good and evil and that humans have two basic natures, the physical and the spiritual. (Definition provided by the free on-line Dictionary by Farlex) In this theological construct, I was beginning to believe that God was in some far off place undeterred by what was happening in my life. Consequently, I was going to have to figure life out by myself.
Over time, my cynicism and doubt grew and I struggled with believing that God cared and that I could trust Him.
For many years of my life I lived in a state of shame. I believed that I did not just make mistakes, but that I was a mistake. At the core of my being I believed that I had to perform to be loved and if I did not measure up, I could not be loved. I believed that I had to justify my existence. I also believed that I had to fix people and situations before I could experience any emotional security.
For many years, I was criticized and berated by my Dad for not measuring up to his expectations. He frequently told me that I would never amount to anything while I was growing up. My Mom would frequently tell me to prove your Dad wrong. I believed I needed to be more than, rather than just am. As I grew older and attended college I found myself seeking out people like my Dad. My unconscious motive at the time was to appease surrogate Dad’s in order to prove that I was lovable.
Nevertheless I continued to fail in my attempts to satisfy the expectations of those individuals.
In my effort to purge myself of my unbeknownst sense of shame and guilt, I attended various types of churches. Fundamental, non-denominational, denominational, charismatic, full gospel and four square and assembly of God churches. I sat under pastoral teaching and submitted myself to what was taught. I diligently attempted to apply what I was learning, in order to gain favor with God and with those individuals with in the church I was attending. My motive was to be accepted and approved of through measuring up to the expectations set forth for me.
MY SEARCH FOR PEACE
My search for peace seemed fleeting at best.
My desire was to have peace with God, other people and myself. My efforts to measure up to the literal interpretation of the Bible proved to be inadequate. Feeling inadequate only reinforced my sense of shame and guilt. That although I strove to do enough, to be enough I did not feel enough. As I sought to learn from the leadership from these different churches I heard other conflicting messages.
These conflicting messages served to reinforce that I had to perform to have peace. Because I was led to and believed that my good was not good enough having peace with God was constantly in question to me.
One such double message told me that God loved me and wanted me to have life and have it more abundantly. However, I could not experience life more abundantly unless I measured up to specific expectations. Performance based acceptance to gain love and acceptance appeared to be the underlying requirement. Consequently, I continued to feel inadequate and unlovable in many church settings and fellowships.
COME CLOSE/ GO AWAY
My experience within these religious settings reflected the message that I had become all too familiar with in my life experience: Come close, Go away.
The impact of the come close, go away messages created confusion and reinforced my experiencing emotional duress. I found myself wanting what I could not have and seeking to be in relationships with an emotionally unavailable God. The crazy making behavior of come close, go away kept me trapped in a sense of inadequacy and unpredictability. Crazy making made it difficult for me to trust.
The impact of the come close, go away messages created confusion in my attempt to have peace with God. The impact of the come close go away messages — from my youth and from my experience in many churches — undermined my ability to trust. What became evident was that I was seeking to have a relationship with a God, who was like my Dad; was/had been emotionally unavailable to me. Emotionally unavailable to me unless I measured up to his expectations of me. Emotionally unavailable to me as I was criticized for not doing and being enough.
FEELING CUT OFF
Because I experienced harsh criticism while growing up and then by actively participating in shame based spirituality, my relationship with God suffered greatly. Rather than being encouraged to draw upon the love of God, I was conditioned to avoid displeasing God, because if I displeased God, He would go away. My motivation was driven by fear, rather than by love. I believed based on my experience with my Dad and through my experience with the church (His representative on Earth) I could not satisfy the requirements to be in a relationship with a loving God. Subsequently, I found myself feeling cut off from the very source of my healing and courage. I believed that my hope could not be realized because I was not able to consistently measure up to expectations.
MAKING PEACE WITH MY DAD
What became apparent to me was that I needed to make peace with my Dad so that I could make peace with God. Although I could not change my Dad, I realized that I needed to change me. What became evident to me, through my recovery process was that I needed to challenge messages. Challenge messages that I received from my Dad. Messages that were reinforced by people who were like my Dad. Messages that led me to believe that I needed to perform to have peace. Messages that led me to believe that…had to be met before I could trust. Messages that alienated me from having peace with God. Messages that alienated me from being able to be at peace with myself. Messages that distracted me. Messages that led me to believe that it was not safe to trust. Messages that “cut” me off from the Source of my healing. Messages that sought to convince me that my circumstances were being done to me, instead of for me. Messages of abandonment, instead of empowerment.
BLAMING ONLY KEEPS ME STUCK
What I discovered through my process is that no one is to blame. My Dad and the churches I attended did the best they knew how to do at the time. What I discovered through my process was that I could change the messages that I received from my Dad and churches with new and empowering messages. Messages that I could tell myself that would empower my ability to trust, be at peace with myself and be at peace God.
What I discovered helped me to realize that I no longer had to remain stuck. Instead, I could replace those messages with messages that would help me to make peace with God. Messages that would help me to be at peace with myself. Messages that would help me to trust the process, a loving God and myself.
RESOLVING INCONSISTENCIES — THE WIZARD OF OZ
In my process, I had to make peace with the God of my understanding. I had to resolve the conflicts and inconsistencies. I had to understand God’s heart toward me so that I could trust Him. I had to be like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” who had to see what was behind the guise of the loud ominous voice. I had to make peace with myself and be convinced that God truly cared about my world in a non-punitive fashion. I had to engage with a God who loved with an everlasting love, an unconditional love and a renewing love. I had to see God as a non-critical parent image. I had to see God as a loving parent who has my best interest in mind, so I could trust.
I had to be like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” who had to see what was behind the guise of the loud ominous voice. I had to be like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” who realized that she could approach the Great OZ. I had to realize like Dorothy that my God was approachable and that I could draw near to Him without requirement.
I had to realize that I could readily approach God without fear or apprehension. With my awareness, I began to realize that I could have peace with God. With my awareness, I began to realize that I could trust God. I began to realize that I could trust the process and I could trust myself. I began to realize that I did not have to perform to BE. I had to replace my misguided, inadequate belief system in order to trust the God who knew me before I was created in my mother’s womb.
WHAT I NEED TO REMEMBER
I had to know this God who created me in awe and wonder. I wanted to know my God who cried with me, and was sad when I was sad, who rejoices over me with gladness because I am called according to His purpose. I wanted to know God as a kind and loving Father. I wanted to know my God, who loves me with an everlasting and unconditional unfailing love. I wanted to know my God who promised to be with me, even to the end of the age. I wanted to know my God who told me that He would no, no never leave me. I wanted to know the God who knows the extent of my days. I wanted to know the God who knows the plans that He has for me.
Something I discovered through my making peace with God and learning how to trust
In order to restore my relationship with a loving God, who truly cared about my world, I had to make significant changes. In my experience, I had to physically detach from places, groups and organizations that controlled through the use of debilitating guilt and debilitating shame. I had to stop paying attention to people who wanted me to qualify my worth through performance. I had to understand how debilitating guilt and debilitating shame drained my creative capacity. I had to understand how critical voices undermined my ability to trust God, the process and myself. I had to replace the demand of perfection with the pursuit of excellence. I had to replace the message of you always do things in a half-ass way with a learning curve.
I began to realize that I needed to change the old messages with new messages. Messages the I told myself about myself. Messages that I told myself about God that were not true. Messages that served to alienate me from the Source who created and destined me to become in this life.
Spiritual progress, rather than spiritual perfection had to become the measure of success. In my experience, I had to come to terms with my humanity, so that I could do a fearless moral inventory of myself in order to identify patterns that set me up to believe I was a victim of my circumstances. I had to identify defense mechanisms that no longer worked and I needed to be rigorously honest with myself. I had to do the necessary work to enable me to see myself as an empowered being, instead of that as a human doing. I had to learn how to trust a God who was kind and loving and wanted my very best. I had to do the work to be able to accept the reality that I have a God, who dances and knows how to have fun.
TRUSTING THE DOTS FORWARD
I had to begin to live life on life’s terms and let go of matters that are out of my control. I had to begin to trust the process. I had to trust that the pieces that make up my life would fall into place. That the pieces would fall into place at the right time and in the right order. I had to trust that the dots would connect forward.
GROWING IN AWARENESS
In the work, that I have done (subsequent to my awareness) I have come to realize that God is for me, not against me. I do not have to earn the love of God for that is given to me unconditionally. I want to serve God and be of maximum service to my fellows because of love, not because I am driven to qualify to be loved. I have come to understand that I am made up of a body, a soul and a spirit and they are to work in tandem, not separately. I have come to realize that God is more interested in my being, than in my doing. My relationship with a loving God motivates me to do the right thing. While there is evil and good in the world, I believe my choice determines how I respond. I can choose to follow goodness and mercy.
I can choose to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I can be empowered, regardless of what evil may lurk in my world.
WHAT I DISCOVERED
I discovered that by living life on life’s terms doors open, as I trust the process. I discovered that by letting go of matters that are out of my control I find peace. I discovered that when things don’t happen like I want them to, God is doing for me what I can not do for myself. I discovered that I could trust the process, a LOVING GOD, and myself. I discovered that more would (will) be revealed to me in time. I discovered that I could let go of people and situations and trust God with the timing. I discovered that I could let go of the BIG Picture. I discovered that I could have an active role in my life by doing the footwork while trusting the outcomes to a loving God. I discovered that I could ask God to guide and lead me.
Because I have committed myself to my process, I have learned that I can trust God. Through trusting God, I am able to be at peace with a loving God and with myself (most of the time). I am able to learn from my circumstances, instead of feeling victimized by them. Through realizing that I can learn from my circumstances, I see my circumstances in a different light. Not as impediments but as guides. Guides that teach me about myself and empower my ability to be a part of God’s will for my life.
Guides that teach me lessons that prepare me for opportunities.
Opportunities that teach me more lessons that give me insight. Insight that guides me in the direction of my destiny. The destiny for which I was created to fulfill through my life. Having peace with God and learning to trust enables me to accept who I am. Have peace with God and learning to trust has and continues to help me to be at peace with myself.
In the event that you are having a difficult time making peace with God and trusting Him, may I make a suggestion? Pray the below prayer or some thing similar. Ask God to reveal Himself to you as a loving Father. Ask Him to help you to make peace with Him. Ask Him to help you to learn to trust.
“God I do not know if you really care for me, but I am open to receive your love for me. Please restore our relationship and help me to experience you. I want to know how much you really love me. I am wounded and scared from past experiences and I need you to perform a miracle. Please heal my broken heart. Please reveal yourself to me. I am willing. Help me to be willing. In faith I ask you to be a part of my life. I ask you to lead me into your will and purpose for my life. Thank you for hearing my prayer. Amen!”
VIDEO PRESENTATION SERIES OF THE ARTICLE
To make the information available in this article, I created a video presentation series. To watch and listen to the article series, click on the below links:
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