All of us have convictions, and they come from somewhere. Our experiences mold and influence us.
I grew up expected to take care of others. I was not asked about what I felt, wanted or needed. I was taught to hustle for my worth early on. I grew up feeling inadequate and defective. I was driven by shame and feelings of abandonment. As a result I developed coping mechanisms of control and perfectionism.
I wish I could tell you that once I became a Christian I put these coping mechanisms down, but they came out of the baptism waters with me. They were the guidelines I used for many years until I allowed God to take them away from me.
The convictions I developed from my family of origin were much like the ones one would want in Christ: to serve, take care of others, to be productive and effective, to be a leader. Yet the motivation behind these was off. I served and took care of others, still hustling for my worth. I was productive and effective, but lacked vulnerability. I gave from myself, yet desperately wanted approval from it. I still approached and internalized conflict as my family of origin did, not the family of Christ.
I grew up not trusting. Fear drove my ‘convictions’– not God’s perfect love. They were rules to protect me. I would learn much later that godly convictions are not about rules, but about relationship.
We all have convictions, but how do we know that they are righteous and from God? We know by the lasting fruit they bare, and mine did not bear lasting fruit.
Christ–God–loves me for who I am, not what I do. His approval is without condition. For too long the guards at my heart, control and perfectionism, blocked this truth from penetrating my heart deeply into my experience. Trying to love people and live by my convictions from behind a wall of fear was exhausting and always came up short. The fear of rejection always looming.
Sometimes, pain is the only way through to the deepest parts of our heart, to penetrating truth. Deep godly convictions are often born out of weakness and struggle. Sixteen years after I became a Christian, God used a relationship to teach me how to be loved and love. Ultimately, the relationship ended but the lessons it taught transformed me in a way that only the deepest heartache and pain can transform. Pain humbles us so God can transform us.
Is48:10 “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
When we don’t get what we want for doing good, that is when the real fight for deep convictions begins. That is when we learn who we really are and when we need to decide who we will become. When my relationship ended I was forced to face and allow God to burn through my pride, anger, fear, judgment, blame and shame. I was forced to put down my perfectionism and control. When the pain was unbearable, this is where I needed to choose to trust God’s word over everything I was feeling. This was the only way to His truth and deep conviction.
God taught me how to submit to Him when it’s uncomfortable, to do the right and righteous thing, not out of obligation or allegiance to Christ, but out of the overflow of trust in His unshakable love for me. It is this love for which his disciples were willing to be crucified upside down, for the Lord that loves and protects us with every command he makes.
Ps 46:5 “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
Godly convictions are not about rules to protect us they are about our relationship with Christ. They are rooted in His character of compassion and mercy. Only when I know my darkness well can I be present with the darkness of others and still love unconditionally.
Vulnerability is letting others see me when I have no control of the outcome. God taught me how to let go of control and be vulnerable. My coping mechanisms just masked my tenderness.
I can’t control anything and when I try I only make things worse.
God’s will is trustworthy. His way is better. God taught me how to lean into the pain and discomfort and be vulnerable. He showed me how to face my shame and get out of my own way. The safest place for me to be is in His Will. To make the right choice regardless of the outcome or consequences. It doesn’t mean I will be spared from pain or hardship. I have learned to entrust the little girl I tried to protect inside of me all these years to God, completely now.
I may not always like where He is taking me but I have a lot more reason not to trust myself than not to trust him.
1Peter 1:7 “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The power of God is that I will never again be who I was before I suffered. God transforms us to who we are meant to be in Him in the first place, to His glory, that which we could never become without Him.
1Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”