The verbal abuse kept raining down until the thought ‘I am a problem’ got nailed into the brain. But then they discovered that a problem is a problem, not a person, and they began to separate their identity from the issues.
It was abuse. Verbal abuse. Dished out every day on to the child’s forming brain. ‘You’re stupid, dumb, a waste of space, a problem child.’
They felt like a piece of dust, waiting to be swept away.
As they shared their story, I considered it was little wonder that they had low self-worth. Depressed and suicidal, they considered themselves a nothing.
They were self-harming to see if they were alive. Was there anyone in there?
But you’re not a problem to me
I listened to the pain and reassured them that nothing they said would cause me to think less of them, to avoid them, to reject them.
‘Oh, but if you knew the real me, you would reject me.’
They were a person first and foremost.
I told them that they were a divine creation. Someone who held the very nature of what God was like.
Yes, they had been battered and bruised. Sure there were problems, but in their very essence, they were not a problem to be solved but a heart to be embraced.
And you’re not a problem to God
God knows everything about you and does not see you as a problem.
God sees the troubles you’re facing, the issues you’re avoiding and the predicaments you don’t even yet know about.
No problem can alter Gods love for you.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed,
nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
So we challenge the flow
All those ‘I’m a problem’ thoughts flowing in one direction.
On the surface, everything looks still, yet underneath, there is a current, a movement, a flow of thoughts all pulling you along.
So we grasp on to some truth, hold on tight and start to fight against the flow.
We identify and isolate the problems as being problems and not being part of our identity.
How to shift your thinking
Prayer invites God to enter into the struggles we are facing. We are not alone as we have God right there with us.
A good prayer might be pray something like this.‘God, help me to see things as you see them. You know all about the many dilemmas I have. Help me to trust that you are intimately involved with me. May I be open to hearing you give direction and assurance as we step out together’
- A few safe others
Ask someone close to help you identify and isolate your struggles. They are not there to solve them for you.
Make sure they know that.
Their role is simply to be with you in identifying the issues you face.
- Identify the issues YOU face
Make a list. Write them down on a piece of paper.
The brain likes the tangible and physical feel of pen on paper.
A simple list of problems you face. You’re not trying to bring world peace or solve global warming. These are problems that you alone have.
Don’t make it an exhaustive list. Keep it short, maybe only four or five.
- Prioritize and tackle them one at a time
Use a problem-solving sheet to solve them one at a time.
- Repeat after me
‘Having problems doesn’t make me a problem; it means I’m human.’
Take some confidence and belief in yourself that you can solve your issues. That you aren’t a problem. That you have problems like everyone else.
Quotes to consider
- God has solutions for people who admit they have problems. Larry Crabb
- When personal problems develop, those who understand that people are living souls more than manageable selves have a hard time with theories that leave no room for mystery. Larry Crabb
- God is able to handle whatever problems exist, we must never deny the problems we face. Larry Crabb
- The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. ~Albert Ellis
- Renting too much space in our mind to a problem comes from taking something too personally. Frederic Luskin
- Avoiding the problem or situation usually makes it more intense. Avoiding anxiety is not the way to get rid of it. William Backus
- You must first remember who you are! You must start with the positive and not with a problem, or you never get beyond a kind of negative problem-solving. Your core, your deepest DNA, is divine; it is the Spirit of Love implanted within you by your Creator at the first moment of your creation. Richard Rohr
Questions to answer
- How do peoples words drive a conviction into our thinking?
- Changing a thinking pattern is hard work. What qualities in a friend help you to change?
- What is your response, at an emotional level, to Richard Rohrs statement ‘Your core, your deepest DNA, is divine; it is the Spirit of Love implanted within you by your Creator at the first moment of your creation.’
Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash