Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Confident Heart - The Before and After Look

Nearly two months ago, Renee Swope asked if I'd like to read an early release of her book, "A Confident Heart - How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises." I knew this was a message I needed, so I instantly responded "Yes, count me in!!" In her email she wrote, "I'm praying this book will truly bless you!" My response was this, "I know the book will bless me; my prayer is that it will change me." You see I've followed Renee's blog, appreciated her P31 devotions and had the privilege of working with her for our women's retreat - I knew God would bless me through her book as well. But I didn't just want to read about a confident heart, I wanted one for myself, so before I even opened the book I prayed for change. Now after reading the final page, I realize God has been answering my prayer.

I'll give you a look for yourself, I don't have pictures like a weight loss plan or make-over, but, I pray my words will paint a picture of what God has done internally, how He's changed my heart!!

The Before -

Growing up I was the oldest, responsible, good girl with what Renee calls the "disease to please." I wanted to make everyone happy and as I matured, I realized this was impossible. During those same years I struggled with what my future held - my sister was planning her wedding and I realized I'd only been on one date - I was lonely and feared that's what my life would look like. Added to the loneliness and need for approval were thoughts that I wasn't good enough, I'd never measure up and that I really wasn't needed which all eventually lead to suicidal thoughts and a diagnosis of depression. In that process, I didn't just find help for the imbalance in my mind, but also what had been missing all along - God revealed Himself in my suffering and at the age of 23 I came to know Him as Savior and Lord.

Obviously doubt played a role before I gave my life to Christ, so I want to specifically look at how it's impacted my walk as a Christian. I've always been the "Jesus girl" who was more than willing to encourage others - I could listen to their situation and rejoice when the news was good and remind them of God's plan when times were trying. I believed things would get better or not turn out too bad. God was in control right?!? Or there were the times when others would share their doubts, "I'm not good enough to do what God is calling me to do." or "Look at me, I'm not beautiful." I knew the words to share with them and believed they were true!

Then there were the times when the voice I listened to was my own - a new trial would come into my life and instantly there was worry - my mind would race and the what if's seemed to never end. The moments when God would call me out of my comfort zone - again there was doubt, "He's not really saying that. I could never..." God would tell you He heard it all!! Oh yes and don't forget the looks thing, I'm the one who would avoid the mirror every chance I had! And even in those moments when I'd push past doubt and talk about this (one of my forever struggles) I'd listen to what others had to say, but believe it, not really. I could see the beauty in all of God's creation until I looked at myself, that I doubted. When I doubted what was on the outside it was only natural to doubt what was on the inside as well.

It amazes me to think doubt is what initially connected me with Renee. Three years ago this July she was writing on her blog about doubt and asked what role it had played in our life. In the comments I simply wrote, "I'm afraid if I gave you the complete answer this would be a book." Much to my surprise she responded with an email (see I doubted a gal I heard on the radio would ever email me!!) wanting to hear more of my story.

After spending the night thinking about her question, God put the following words on my heart -

"Doubt"

It knocks me down

and beats me up.

It makes me question

and sometimes quit.

It causes me to worry

and even wallow.

It robs me of joy

and leaves me empty.

It prevents me from sharing my faith

and truly loving my neighbor.

It causes me to compare

and think I'll never measure up.

It fills me with regrets

and plenty of "what if's."

It leaves me discouraged

and sometimes even depressed.

It is one of satan's weapons

and one, only GOD can combat.

It reminds me I can't,

but I trust God will.

I read those words and they are true, doubt had a hold on me and really has kept me from being who God made me to be.

The After -

"A Confident Heart" is a book that has touched my heart and it's a challenge to sum up the difference it has made, probably because its impact is on-going. So for now, a look at "Who am I?" after reading Renee's words. I believe the best, well at least the fastest way to say it is this - Mrs. Doubtful becomes Confident in Christ! Only now this confidence has become a personal thing!

Like I said, before I knew God was big and powerful, but I didn't always believe that applied to situations in my own life. I knew God loved His children and thought they were beautiful, but those were things I associated with others, not myself. I also knew doubt played a big role in my life, but now I know it has played a role in every area of my life. I use to think worry and doubt was just part of who I was, something I had to live with, but now I know with Christ's strength in me it's something I can overcome. And at the same time, doubt is something that God can use to draw me closer to Him, if I let it!!

God has changed me as together we've journeyed through this book - the mirror is still not my best friend, but like I shared in a previous post, I am beautiful. It's taken me 35 years to say those words, but that is what God says and I believe HIM! I have always been one of my own worst critics and have been real quick to beat myself up, but I'm learning that I can fail forward and learn from my mistakes. I really am, and will always be, a work in progress! Finally as my heart becomes more confident, I'm reminded that I'm not "just Jill"; no I am God's chosen child, a daughter who He loves and has plans for! (Matt. 3:17, John 15:16, Jer. 29:11)

As I reflect and write these words, in a way I feel it's easier to see and understand who I was - an insecure, doubtful, worried girl who was always on the short end of the comparison stick. At the same time I am so grateful God is giving me a glimpse of who He has created me to be - a secure, confident, fearless women who is beautiful in His eyes. And friend I pray my words have given you a look at the change I'm experiencing because if God can do this for me, He can and wants to do the same for you!!

One great lesson I've taken from "A Confident Heart" is this - it's not about trying harder, but turning faster. God doesn't need me, or you, to try any harder than we already do. He's more concerned about us seeking Him than serving Him. And when those doubts come, and believe me, they are even more intense when we're aware and are trying to battle them, we just need to turn faster - turn to Him and remind ourselves of His truth and His promises!! Only by doing this will we know who we are!! And more importantly whose we are!!

Today will you join me in praying Hebrews 10:35-36?? These are powerful words, "
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! So much written and so much that I related to that it's hard to focus on a few things to comment on.

    I love the words you wrote about doubt. So true!

    I love even more that God has done such a work in your heart. I agree, you ARE beautiful!!

    I am getting more and more excited about reading Renee's book!

    Oh, what great words, "It's not about trying harder, but turning faster." Going to try to remember that myself! Thanks for sharing.

    Sounds like you have a lot more answers to "Who Am I?" :) EXCITED to see how God uses your confident heart in the days, weeks, months and years to come! :)

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