Mixed Messages Sorted Out

I am learning, although late in my life, to be a person that is well rounded. For so much of my life, everything, (and I mean everything) had to do with religion only. The spiritual self. That’s not a bad thing-not totally, unless you fail to have balance.

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Ok. I’ve got that religion thing down seemingly. I had that down so well in fact, and was so faithful, that God called me to preach.

Or …do I really have all the pieces to that puzzle? I say that because God talks to us about who we are, in our entirety. Not just our spiritual self and spiritual awareness but our everyday habits, our beliefs about life, work, and family. He challenges us to be our best as a person while here on earth in every aspect.

Oh yeah, for the first part of my life, I didn’t have that part too well–the right balance. And there was no one to tell me how much I was out of kilter. We were all suffering from the same disease in our denomination. For so long, I was involved in a religious system that only focused on the spiritual. Not working on who I was as a person led to difficulties in the secular areas of life. As I now focus on why I do the things I do or why I think the way that I think, I am discovering that being in this mental space of self examination, is preparing me to do the will of God. There is personal work that we all need to do. A wholeness we all need to achieve to the best of our ability.

This process of self awareness can be painful. It can be harsh to go back and relive a childhood memory, or a painful incident or even just examine why you acted a certain way last week. Yet, all of the digging and self- discovery is a good thing.

I discovered this week why I had the nagging sense of never having accomplished anything.

No matter how well I preached or performed a duty, I never felt good about my accomplishments. This was compounded by the Christian teachings that we all must be humble and that pride is a sin. Somewhere in my mind, I thought “well I can’t celebrate myself because all of those things mean very little in comparison to Christ”. Even though overall that may sound holy and seem true, I realize that Christ wants us to celebrate and feel accomplished about efforts that HE helped us achieve. That when we are successful in using our gifts, we can celebrate the outcome. Somewhere the lack of self-esteem and the good teaching about humility got mixed up and resulted in just not enjoying my accomplishments and my life. And then I was surrounded by people that saw snapshots of me at church but didn’t really know me. All the while, teaching that they were closer to me than my natural family.

But I found that many of those people did not have the time, the know-how, nor the responsibility to help me with my life. Even though, I was constantly sent the message that they did have all those things. See, this is what happens when you’re seeking for completeness through other people and looking for a place to belong.

I know, it may sound weird, but that’s what seemingly happened. Somewhere, my mind and my past experiences melded together and gave me a mixed message. An incorrect message–that nothing I did outside of church really mattered much. So I didn’t pay the proper attention to my finances, my personal growth, my professional growth, and continued education. And although I achieved a lot in spite of this, I was surrounded by people that often made me feel that much of that stuff was useless and unremarkable.

As I change my surroundings, my associations and who I allow to be close to me, I am learning that positive affirmations and positive people make a big difference in my life. I no longer hear the negativity that surrounded me most of my life. But I am surrounding myself with mentors, coaches, and friends that will have a positive effect on me and help me reach the goals that God has set out for me.

I heard a person say that we are the average of the 5 people that are closest to us.

Well, today I am committing to changing who is a close, positive effect on my life and who is simply an acquaintance passing through. It makes a difference when you get those things sorted out.

Author: Renee

I am an author and a retired minister. My passion is helping others find their sense of self and identity after so many years of losing my own. So often we go to church and are still not aware of our disconnection with our true selves. The person inside that God deeply values. My husband and I have been married for over 30 years and have 3 children. I love gourmet cooking, swimming, all kinds of music, and political and religious discussion- the two things my mom said never to talk about at the dinner table.

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