“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
After reading many self-help books I finally learned a valuable lesson:
I am my enemy.
I am the one that needs help.
I know, it sounds pretty obvious, that’s why these books are categorized as SELF-help books, but for some reason I thought I was helping myself cope with the pain caused by OTHERS. I’m not referring to the pain people experience that they did not provoke, I am referring to the pain that we need to be accountable for.
When I purchased the self-help books I envisioned the enemy as an outsider; fate – bad things happens to good people or everything happens for a reasons, poor decision making – engaging in less than par relationships or friendships, or others – help my attackers have a better understanding of how their actions affected me.
For a long time I chastised those who hurt me while being unjustly lenient with myself. I would be offended if someone dared point out my issues. I was the queen of defense- still am, since this is a work-in progress. Clearly my poor behavior was a REACTION to being attacked, if the offender had not offended me I would have remained calmed and acted as expected.
Ironically, when I was the offender I expected others to keep their cool and react calmly to help me keep my cool. I suggested that they stay calm to help me reason, but as a hypocrite I did not ask of myself the same thing. At the end of the day I was the only innocent party. Perhaps it was too painful to work through my issues, maybe I believed my character shortcomings were insignificant, or worse, at times I was in complete denial about them.
Then the light bulb turned on.
I need to work on MY issues, MY downfalls, I contributed to the problem.
I started the Accountability Project as a proactive approach to better understand myself and improve my shortcomings. A few weeks ago I made the decision to come clean every time I hit a bump in the road; when I am upset about something, have a discord with my fiancé, carry something heavy in my soul, etc. I wait a day or so to let the emotions simmer. I come clean and confess to my involvement in the problem; sweating the small stuff, not extending mercy towards others when they’re having a rough day, lashing out at loved ones because I’m having a bad day, worrying more about being right than being loving, being overly sensitive, overlooking the effect my monthly visitor has on my emotions (it’s true!!), pushing people’s buttons in retaliation for the pain I’m feeling, etc(the list can literally go on).
Sometimes I fight and say things just because something inside me is angry and wants to lash out, nothing significant has occurred to provoke this reaction, yet it all comes spilling out anyway. Then comes the moment where I know I’m wrong, yet I stand there with my arms crossed trying to justify my lack of control, and play the blame game that Eve introduced us to.
As I reflect on my journal entries I’m a bit shocked and disappointed, because I know better, but at the same time I’m proud of my honesty and my ability to own up to my mistakes. An honest self-analysis is the only way that I can get a better handle on my future.
My plan is to create a reaction manual based on my journal entries and choose new reactions for my common triggers. My future, my influence on my family life, depend on my ability to overcome my character flaws. My salvation depends on me removing the chains of my past which influence my behaviors and start living free, with childlike happiness.
I’ve noticed that at times I run from what my fiance points out because I don’t like what he’s exposing about me. Deep down I know there is truth in his statement but it hurts too much to see myself that way, in my mind I am not that person he is describing.
I don’t want to be the person he’s describing, yet that is who I am. That is how I act.
To avoid being portrayed in that undesirable light, I fight back. With time I’ve learned that this just leads to a bigger problem, avoidance. I need to stand there and hear it, I need to see how I’m portraying myself, and I need to use constructive criticism from the person I love most to help me grow.
I’m not striving for perfection, because only God is perfect. My goal is to minimize the damage I cause myself and loved ones by reacting poorly. My goal is to stop saying “I will do better next time” and actually do better next time by having a game plan.
I need to fight my own worst enemy – my own demons – to start spreading love. I need to own up to my imperfections, not deny their existence, nor be afraid that exposing these issues will make me less lovable.
Exposing the areas that are in need of improvement will help give my soul a good spring cleaning. No one can fight this battle for me, if I want to start being the love I read about (a reflection of God’s love), if I want to be a peace maker in my home, then I need to stop being afraid of what’s within me and let God make me new.
Pray for me as I embark on this journey.
“We need to fix ourselves vertically before we can fix ourselves horizontally.” – Paul Tripp