Friday, December 5, 2014

Believe in yourself

The subject of self belief has been one that I've struggled with my whole life. I've only recently begun to learn to do it and I have realized just how necessary it is for future success of any kind - whether it be in employment situations, relationships or anything else.

Due to the overpowering spiritual, emotional and psychological forces that have corrupted my thinking since the day that I was born, my self belief from day one was next to zero and people would often remark that I was "very anxious" and that I "didn't have a lot of self confidence". And they were right. After all, it's nearly impossible to believe in yourself when you have had so much negative, wrong thinking within yourself due to forces beyond your control. It becomes all you ever know and though the forces behind this wrong thinking are lies, if the root of the lie hasn't been exposed it still feels like truth and has power over you.

I only started to learn about the depth of the wrong thinking that had polluted my mind in my late 20's. Up until this point in time I was by and large a very passive, timid and fearful person - believing that others were always in the right and I was most definitely always in the wrong. If someone stood against me - it simply must be because I was wrong, otherwise they wouldn't be standing against me in the first place. My self belief was so low that the slightest sense of opposition would cause me to instantly collapse in on myself and basically repent to whoever was opposing me for everything - even if they were totally in the wrong. Needless to say - this was a miserable way of life for me. I was often mercilessly bullied and taken for granted by people who would then scold me if I reacted in any way (which rarely happened anyway as my confidence was so low.) I was the perfect servant - to everyone else except myself.

After going through burnout in 2011 which was in a sense being completely torn down and destroyed, God began the rebuilding process in my life from the ground up. One of the first things He began to work on was this non-existent sense of self belief I had. Over the course of 3 years since I burned out, He put me in two different situations where I was forced to "get over myself" and stand up for something. One situation was a godless, selfish relationship between two people who didn't care who they hurt just so long as they got what they wanted, and whom most of the people around them sided with saying that they "were so perfect for each other" etc, despite the fact that they left broken hearts and irreparable damage to friendships and relationships behind them. The other situation was one that arose in a church where the leadership allowed some very dangerous people to have a lot of control and influence over the church to the point where the safety of the existing members of the congregation was being compromised - so much so that people were being physically assaulted in the church while the leadership stood up and did nothing, even going so far as to send the police away when they were called to deal with these people engaging in physical violence outside the church building.

I stood up for myself and what I strongly believed was right in both situations. It was hard, and it was frightening. My default way of thinking was to back down and pretend like everything was ok, to blame myself for the way things had gone down, and to just stand back and let things happen. This was the safer alternative - one that kept everybody happy, didn't challenge anyone, and meant that I could continue my invisible existence as a timid, fragile human who hid in the shadows because he was too afraid to move into the light and stand for anything. But I knew deep in my spirit that this was not right, and that it's not what I was called to do. So I stood up for what was right - even though I was scared to death in the process.

Needless to say - I received a lot of opposition. People told me that I was wrong, that I was jealous, that I was insecure, that I was bitter, that I was fearful and that I was operating out of major character deficiencies in my own life, and that I needed to repent. I could feel the negative thinking trying to overpower me from within - to get me to back down, submit, repent. Saying things like "these church leaders are much older and more experienced than you are, Graham. They must be right, you must be wrong. There's no way that they are in the wrong in this - it's all you" - and other things like "Are you really sure you've heard from God? Did God REALLY tell you to stand against that couple?You've been wrong before. You're wrong again. You're at fault here, nothing will go away until you go and repent." But there was something inside of me that just said that backing down was wrong, and that I was actually in the right, despite what my built-in doubt and negativity was trying to tell me. But I still couldn't make peace with myself. So I went to God with a doubtful heart and asked Him if I was really in the right with these situations because I was struggling to believe that I was right, especially with all of the opposition I was receiving.

His reply was simple - "Graham, you are in the right. Your problem is that you don't believe that you are in the right because you don't believe in yourself. If you were wrong in either of these situations, I would have told you. I've put these situations in your life to reveal to bring up all of this lack of confidence and self doubt that has plagued you for so long. The opposition you are receiving from others is helping you to see the wrong thinking you already have in your own heart. Face that and deal with it, and you will learn to become more comfortable with what you believe in despite any opposition you may receive."

This word encouraged me to realize that there are times when I genuinely am in the right, and that in these two situations I was in the right with both of them. It helped me to realize that my fear and doubt regarding the stance I took was not because I was in the wrong in standing up for what I felt was right, but that my fear and doubt was that I genuinely didn't believe I could ever be in the right about anything, which contributed hugely to my passive, timid, pushover nature. God's word to me helped me to begin to believe in myself and my own instincts, and that if His Spirit was not convicting me otherwise and that every part of me was telling me that I needed to stand up and fight against something, those instincts were not wrong and sinful and needed to be trusted. I had to realize that if I was ever going to be a success of any kind, self belief was a key part of that.

It also taught me to realize that just because someone was opposing me, didn't automatically mean that I was in the wrong. In the first instance with the relationship that hurt so many people I began to realize that many of the people who so strongly sided with this couple did it not because they believed that I was in the wrong - but because it didn't suit them that they were in the wrong. In a conversation with one person who strongly supported them, God strongly convicted me to tell this person that He had told me to stand against them. As soon as I did this, he finally grudgingly admitted that he knew that I was in the right. I realized he was quite happy to sit there and lie to himself about what had happened because the truth didn't suit him even though he knew what it was. The Word of God cut through the lies he was telling me - and himself. I later confronted him about this and he had no argument because he knew that I was right. Despite how strong and forceful his initial argument was against what I had done, it eventually all collapsed because it wasn't based on truth. Ultimately we parted ways and haven't spoken since.

The important thing to notice here is that God ordained all of these events to happen to me because they were exactly what I had needed. Because I was such a frightened, limited, timid person I needed these situations to happen to force me out of my comfort zone of timidity and into a place where I was forced to stand up for something and stand by it later on. I needed to go through these things and I needed to upset people by standing for the truth in order to learn to believe in myself and my own instincts - and to trust that I do hear from God and that I can be right even when faced with opposition. It helped me to realize that opposition doesn't always mean that you are in the wrong - sometimes quite the opposite. It was a huge part of the building blocks to complete recovery and full mental wholeness and healing in my life.

I imagine that if I was by default a strong, outwardly aggressive person who oozed a sense of indestructible self belief and self righteousness, I would probably have had to go through the opposite in order to humble me. But God did this because I didn't need more humbling - I needed to be built up stronger. Since these events I have seen a remarkable change in myself. I am still not in the place of self belief I need to be in quite yet but I still feel so much freer than I did before. I have so much more faith in what I say now and how I feel about things and I have that much more confidence and belief in my own instincts and what my own heart is telling me - even if it opposes the views of other people.

To conclude - if you've been as passive and timid as what I have been, there is hope for you. There is a God who cares and wants to build you into a strong person from the inside out. Sometimes He will challenge you to do hard and scary things which will bring opposition to your life which will try to convince you that you are in the wrong. Don't fear these times. He's using this to bring up the fear, doubt and lack of belief in your life so that you can face it and deal with it, which will make you a stronger person. He's setting you up for a better life - a life of strength and courage, where you could do things you never felt that you could do before.

Take care.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you, Graham - it must take a lot of courage to share such a story, but thank God that He's given you the confidence to do so. I find it hard to believe in myself too and I am so thankful that your story proves it can be overcome. God bless you mightily :)