We’ve all got an ugly side. Some of us may hide it better than others, but it’s there, lurking, waiting for an opportune time to rise up—when we’re stressed or hungry or tired or caught off guard by something.
I like to hide mine behind smiles and all the proper Christian phrases and responses. Either that, or I try to muster up all the Christian-good within me, and by sheer will, behave as I know every loving Christian woman should. But this is a surface solution, and a highly ineffective one at that.
There’s a third option, one I used to turn to so often, my actions became a habit I perfected and that’s this—hiding. If I keep others at a distance and limit my interactions, and by all means, avoid any situations that could trigger the ugly within, then all will be fine.
I’ll be able to maintain that nice, genteel demeanor that so impresses me in other Christian woman.
But in doing that, I’ll be disobeying God’s command to love others as Christ loved me.
Love goes deep. Love risks. Love unveils.
The solution runs much deeper than painted on smiles and proper Christian behavior. If we truly want to change, to begin replacing our ugly with an inner beauty, we need to prayerfully get to the root of our actions and reactions.
Everyone has an emotional trigger, and often, that trigger is connected to an inner lie, such as:
I’m not good enough
I’m a failure
It’s also often connected to past hurts, wounds that, over time, turned to a relational “law” we’ve come to embrace, such as:
People can’t be trusted/depended upon
Everyone leaves eventually
People will only use you
I won’t get what I deserve
I won’t get what I need
Reading this list, you might notice, all of the above are grounded in fear, but we’re not meant to be enslaved to fear. God has called us to love and freedom, a love centered in freedom and a freedom fueled by love.
It’s almost ironic—our fears keep us from true love, and our lack of living loved feeds our fears.
These fears and underlying lies are different for all of us, but they form the root of so many of our behaviors. The challenge, then, is to prayerfully analyze our emotions and reactions, asking and allowing God to deal with the underlying gunk we’ve allowed to fester.
Our healing and growth are centered in our relationship with Him, as we begin to receive our nourishment and fulfillment, our identity and security, in Christ, the lover of our souls.
Let me give an example. One of my core fears or “laws” is that everyone leaves eventually. This can affect my behavior in numerous ways. Either I’ll pull back at first sign of conflict, or I’ll guard my words when I should speak boldly, or perhaps I’ll act aggressively, trying to finagle the situation to avoid relational repercussions, but things never turn out the way I planned. In trying to fix or prevent an outcome or reaction, I almost always inevitably make the situation worse.
But here’s the truth. People will leave. They’ll abandon, reject, and hurt us. People might even use and manipulate us. But Christ never will. His love is constant and pure. When we rest in that, and base our identity not on what others say or don’t say, do or don’t do, but instead on who we are in Christ—in who He says we are, our hearts are given room to heal, and as they do, beauty rises up within until there’s no room for the ugly.
Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com, is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, a ministry that exists to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. She and her team travel to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com
About Healing Love
A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.
Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.
Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.
When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35380240-healing-love