"I don't receive that for you!" His tone was sharp and his brow was locked into "stern" setting.
I sighed aloud, glaring at him, trying to hold my own. Didn't I have the right to talk however I wanted to talk? Why must he constantly correct my speech? I wanted to tell him where to get off.
he wasn't backing down either. Exasperation came off of him in waves.
"Why do you insist on saying those terrible things about yourself? Is
that what you WANT?"
He had interrupted
me mid-sentence. I was embarrassed that the urgency in his tone was
attracting the attention of others around us. Why did he have to
make such a big deal about this? Couldn't we just ONCE have a
conversation that didn't go like this? Couldn't he just let me be me?
But his giant hand enveloped mine, and there was no hostility there.
Despite the strident tone, his motive wasn't control.
On some level, I
understood that he was trying to save me from myself.
The thing was, I had been talking that way about myself for long enough that I wasn't sure when it had started.
"Why did I do that? I'm so stupid..."
"Dropped it again! I'm so clumsy..."
"I always lose everything..."
"I'm horrible with money. I'm going to die in debt..."
"I'll never be able to learn that..."
"I hate it, but it's just the way I am..."
"Take it from this fat lady..."
I was daily, often hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute barraging myself with negative self-talk. Telling the world and myself and God over and over about my low opinion of myself. If you'd have asked me if I hated myself, I'd have told you (fully believing that I was telling the truth) that no, of course I didn't hate myself! Why would you ask such a question? What kind of loser did you think I was?
And ten minutes later I'd have probably been mentioning to you that, I'm such a loser because of some other failure to be perfect. And I'd not have seen the way I was telling on myself, about something I hadn't yet admitted to myself at all: I really did hate myself.
He worked in deliverance ministry, which can look a lot of ways. His particular way was one of those "woo woo out there" sorts - a regular Friday night service for him included seeing manifestations of demons, people falling out, people vomiting into the buckets that were always standing ready. He saw ugly things, all the time.
Which meant he didn't mess around, when he saw me agreeing aloud with every condemning voice in my head. So pretty much every phone call, every date, every internet chat...every time we were in contact, we were playing out this scene. Me trash talking myself, and him admonishing me, begging me, reasoning with me, ordering me not to do that.
And...truth...me mostly thinking, "What the f*^k is your problem, dude?" (A fine thing to be thinking, when one is dating someone who's in ministry, eh?)
I heard, "I don't receive that for you!" so many times that it just made
me want to kick him, or to slink away, every time it came out of his
Why do we hold on so tightly to the things that hurt us? What's so great about our right to talk crap about ourselves? Why do we get so offended when someone suggests we maybe could be healed of something that we've already decided is unchangeable?
Despite what we thought at the time, neither of us was in any way ready to do a real long-term relationship, and soon we moved on. I've never heard from him since. But in the ten-ish years since we last spoke, I've been grateful to him about a million times over. I have just a small idea why he needed me to cross his path, but I'm absolutely sure why I need him to cross mine: he was step one in starting me to fight against the pile of lies.
Even after he was gone, I heard his angry rebuke, every time I cavalierly called myself something terrible or casually spoke a message of hopelessness about my situation. I don't receive that for you! I didn't always stop and repent, but sometimes I did. Over time, more and more often I paused, mid-bash, to change my words.
To say something more like, "I have room to learn in this area," instead of, "I am so stupid."
To say something more like, "God can teach me about this," instead of, "I'll never learn."
To say something more like, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me," instead of, "I'll never change."
It's hard work, changing negative self-talk. You have to chip away at it day by day, moment by moment, thought by thought. You have to keep stopping mid-sentence. You have continually go back, saying, "I'm sorry, that's not what I meant," and re-framing to a truth that GOD would say, not the crap that the enemy of us all would say. You have to insist on telling good stuff about God, when you want to say mean stuff about yourself, your situation, or the guy next to you. You have to keep reminding yourself that if others agree with the negative talk about you...well...what they think of you is none of your business. You have to run to God, and trust that He's GLAD you came running, and isn't rolling his eyes and sighing with disgust that you STILL didn't get it right.
How fast is the work? This guy was chewing on me about it about a decade ago. When I arrived here at the naked blog in February of 2009, I was still regularly saying very unkind things to and about myself. Heck, in January 2011, as God was leading me off into this "letting Him teach me to love my body" adventure, I was still losing the battle a whole heckuva a lot.
In other words: learning to speak blessings, to be kind and loving, to ONESELF...it can be excruciatingly slow work.
Here's the thing, though: it is the way of freedom.
If you're still beating the crap out of yourself daily with your words...if you're still telling yourself, others, and God how hopeless your situation is...if you're getting irritable when someone suggests you let go of your "right" to talk however you want to about yourself...let me just stop here, glare at you lovingly, and say it: I DON'T RECEIVE THAT FOR YOU. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? STOP IT!
You'll never get to freedom if you don't start taking that step of speaking God's truth about yourself, instead of the enemy's lies.
Take the step. It's a long journey. But DANG it's beautiful, here a piece further down the road...