How Do You See Yourself?

If someone asked, "Tell me about you and your life," how would you answer?

We all have a mental picture of who we are.

Maybe we lost track of where it came from but we're used to it and it feels like fact. Every moment this inner picture either lifts us up or drags us down. 

Our thoughts--and our words--can hem us in or set us free. 

Does that sound like an exaggeration? Take a listen

Sometime back a popular radio talk show host announced the day's topic: "Are you a victim?"

He introduced his guest, a professional counselor, and then opened the phone lines. One of the first callers was "Rita," whose tears kept interrupting her story  

Blog. Troubled woman 2. 7.19"Am I a victim? Absolutely! Last fall I was beaten up and raped. That attacker ruined my life!" 

Asked about her family or friends, Rita replied they kept trying to reach her and her fiancé still wanted to marry her. 

"I don't want to see any of them!" she sobbed. "Everyone just feels sorry for me, so I don't go out. Anywhere. With anyone.

"They tell me I'm depressed, but why wouldn't I be? My life was good and I had a happy future planned with the man I love. Now I know I will never be the same. I can't ever be the same.

"Once you become a rape victim it changes everything."

"Mindy" called next

She said, "I was raped, too, by a neighbor I thought I could trust. That horror followed years of my stepfather molesting me.

"Like your last caller, I saw myself as a victim. I lashed out at anyone who came near me and kept asking, 'Why me?' Night and day I hugged my pain around me and inside, I shivered in misery.

"After a long time I realized I had lost myself. When I thought of myself as 'the victim,' I locked out everything and everybody. I decided I didn't want to live like that anymore, so I searched out a good counselor and worked on building a new life. A better life.

"I want to say to the woman who just called, it's true you never will forget what happened. But you decide what you will do with this experience.

"You can rename it, like, call it a pothole in the road you were on. Everyone has those. Hitting a bump in the road can give you a bad jolt and leave you shaken, but it doesn't have to stop you in your journey--unless you let it.  

"I hope you can hear me. I know your pain, I really do because I've been there. I came to understand that I was choosing to see myself as injured. Damaged. Powerless.

"Forgive me, I know this sounds harsh, but that awful man did not make you a victim. You are doing that all by yourself."

Could there be meaning for our lives? 

Here's my number one takeaway: 

In every situation, how we think and speak of ourselves not only impacts our lives, but can determine our lives.

Once we plug that into our thinking it can help us deal with whatever comes. 

Whatever the reason, we all have times we feel unworthy and unlovable. Some of us ache with regrets over past or current failures or problems we can't fix.

Some of us loved and counted on a person who let us down in some way. Some of us constantly replay hurtful conversations that haunt us. Some of us got a raw deal from an employer or a co-worker and can't let go of the injustice. 

Whatever is on our personal list, here's the truth in all of it: All these circumstances are the ordinary stuff of life.

Simply put, life can be hard. How do we live with the day-to-day?

Always, the same truth applies

We get to choose how we label--and view--our lives. And ourselves. Every. Single. Time.

We can stay in the "pity pit" and be stuck with its lousy view. We can vow to trust no one ever again, as a way to protect ourselves.

We can put up emotional walls against being wounded, essentially living as loners, even within a marriage. 

Or--and I know this may sound too simple--we can dig deep and decide to leave our heavy load behind, with the One who knows our everything and loves us still:  

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed ... There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus ... "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." 

John 8:36, Romans 8:1, John 14:27  -ESV

Millions of believers around the world know that no other way brings real inner peace  

Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior gives us a new identity: "Child of God, Washed Clean and Set Free by Jesus."

This identity cancels out harmful labels, whatever they may be. It enables us to let go of what weighs us down and to finally be at peace. With God. With ourselves. And with the people in our lives. 

It's as Jesus said to his followers in John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Praying for you, my reader friend,


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