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Rejecting Negativity

The pastor invited the congregation to come to the front for prayer after his sermon on the power of the tongue.

“Maybe you need God’s help to control your tongue or maybe you need healing from the damage done to you by the tongues of others,” he said, and I felt something stir inside me.

“As your pastor I want to rebuke and reject those negative things that were said over you as a child.” he said and I felt an unexpected surge of pain.  As the pastor continued inviting people to come for prayer the pain inside me increased until it finally began leaking out of my eyes.

I went to the front for prayer.  I didn’t want to because then everyone would see me cry and I don’t like crying in front of others but I knew God had touched something in me and that meant He wanted me to let Him work on it.  I went to the front and I cried in front of everyone but I didn’t fall on the floor and sob which was what I wanted to do.  I kept my distress as quiet and inconspicuous as I could and kept wiping away the tears until, finally, the pain subsided and the tears stopped.

I don’t cry easily these days.  My kids accuse me of being hard-hearted because I sit, dry eyed, through shows that have them bawling like babies but they don’t understand.

I’m a counsellor.  I have heard stories that would make a stone weep and I can’t break down because, if I do, I won’t be able to help the person.

I’m a telephone counsellor too and we are targets for anyone who wants to let off steam without paying a price for it.

We get callers who abuse us with the kind of savage abandon only an anonymous person feels safe enough to indulge in.  We get callers who threaten us, callers who try to make us angry so they can fight with us, callers who try to manipulate us in every way from making us feel so sorry for them we will want to get personally involved through to making us feel their despair, hopelessness or anger.

When actors try to manipulate my emotions I am not touched.  I know real pain when I see it and I rarely see it in movies or television shows.

I don’t cry for myself for the same reasons.  A good counsellor has to work through their own issues or they can be rendered useless if a client, whether by accident or on purpose, taps into sensitive stuff.

I thought I had done that.  I thought the pain of my childhood was over and the scars had been healed so why the tears in church?

What were the words that were said back then that were still with me today?  What were the words I needed the pastor to rebuke and reject for me?  I couldn’t think of any but, if there were none, why had I reacted so strongly to him saying that?

The only thing I can think of that is still an issue for me today are the words I say to myself because they continue to be as negative and critical as the messages I got as a child.

“I should never have been born.  I am a mistake.  I am a waste of space.  I am a parasite on the earth using up resources and making a mess.  There is nothing of any value in me.  I should be dead.  I want to be dead.  I am tired.  I can’t.  I don’t want to.”

Nobody ever said those things to me though so what is the connection between them and my childhood?

As I pondered these questions the only thing that came to mind was the word “negativity”.

“I wanted the pastor to rebuke and reject the negativity that was fed into you as a child.” God seemed to be saying to me.  “You absorbed it, you accepted it, you magnified it and you live it out every day.”

The pieces of the puzzle seemed to start falling into place.

Running to my mother in tears and being told to stop crying or I would be given something worth crying for.  The implication being that my tears were stupid and pointless and should stop if I wanted to avoid being punished for them.

Seeking comfort or help from her and receiving only blame.  Like the time a boy decided to bail me up after school every day for weeks and punch me in the gut hard enough to wind me.  I was slower and slower getting home as I tried to thwart him by waiting inside the school building until he left the grounds before going home myself.  Mum finally noticed how late I was getting home and wanted to know what was going on.  I told her what was happening and she looked annoyed with me and demanded to know; “What are you doing to make him hit you?”

Turned out she was right.  The teacher who caught me lingering in the hallway, too afraid to go outside because the bully was waiting, gave me the answer to Mum’s question.

“He likes you.  That’s why he hits you.”

It didn’t make sense, even as a seven year old, but I confronted the bully.

“Mr Gunn says you hit me because you like me.  Is that true?  Because if that’s true you should know I hate you and every time you hit me I hate you more!”

He hit me one last time but that was the end of it.

I interpreted this as proving Mum was right.  It was my fault after all.  He was hitting me because he liked me.  I wasn’t sure what I had done to make him like me against his will but, as Mum always said, I “must have done something”.

I remember the man who molested me as I sat on his knee covered by a blanket while his sister and my mother did the dishes in the next room.  His hand was rough and his nails were long and jagged.  My genitalia was soft and sensitive and he hurt me so I started to cry.

“Stop crying,” he hissed nastily in my ear and squeezed me so tight I couldn’t breath, “you wanted this!  You asked for it!”

I was only about four.  I thought I had asked for a cuddle but, clearly, I was mistaken.

I was always mistaken.  I was always wrong.  I was always to blame.  It was always my fault.  Somehow.  Clearly, obviously, the only answer to how this could be true was that *I* was the mistake!  *I* was what was wrong!  I was to blame, it was all my fault, it was all because I should never have been born.

As a child I came to these conclusions because nothing else made any sense.  As an adult I know better but I still believe I should not have been born and I still wish I had not been.

Now God seems to be saying I need to reject all that negativity and stop saying all these things to myself.

The pastors message focused on the things we say to others but that isn’t really a problem for me.  God has helped me gain control over my tongue when it comes to what I say out loud and a lot of the negative things I used to say to myself have been dealt with too but I still have this unshakable conviction that I am a mistake and I should not have been born.

I know God loves me.  I know He doesn’t make mistakes and He wanted me to be born but I *feel* like a mistake and I don’t know how to shake that off because nothing I do or say can touch it.  No matter how many people I help, no matter how much good I do, it is never enough to convince me I was born for a good reason.

The pastor has rebuked and rejected the negativity that was fed into me as a child.  God has shed his light on this darkness inside me and told me what to do about it.  I guess all I can do is follow His directions and stop saying this stuff to myself.

Maybe I can go one step further and do what, as a psychologist, I would advise others to do in a situation like this and replace the negative statements with positive ones in the hope repetition will help me begin believing them.

Starting now.

I am NOT a mistake.  I am a child of God.  I was planned, conceived and born because my heavenly Father wanted ME, not someone else, ME to exist.  It even says so in the bible.

Isaiah 49:1 “The Lord called me before my birth. From within the womb he called me by my name”
Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”

Psalm 139:13-16  “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth, your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped before one came to be.”

I think it’s well and truly time for me to replace all those negative messages I absorbed as a child with the positive ones contained in the bible!

I thought that was a good place to end this entry so I left the computer and went to try and replace negative with positive but negative is not so easily defeated.

“Those biblical verses are not general ones that apply to everyone,” I thought to myself, “they were specific to the biblical characters mentioned in them.  They don’t apply to me.”

In my heart I felt God disagree with me.

“You have proof those verses are true.  You know I was involved in every part of your creation.  The story of your naming was proof of that.”

When my mother was expecting me she read a book about a dog named Kim.  She liked the name and decided to name me Kim regardless of what sex I turned out to be.  After my birth she filled out the registration papers and handed them to a nurse.  The nurse said I should have a middle name as well as a first name but mum had no second name to give me so she invited the nurse to give me one.  The nurse chose Elizabeth and mum added it to my papers.  When I was expecting I got a book of baby names and tried to choose one with a good meaning for my child.

It was then that I discovered Elizabeth means “Consecrated to God”!

I know the verses are true but my negativity is deep-seated and it does not give up.

“So my days were shaped before I even drew breath.” I thought, “You must have known what was ahead of me then.  Why did you give me life when you knew how much it would hurt me, how much I would suffer, and how much I would wish I had not been born?”

I waited for God to tell me all the things He has told me in the past that I have found some measure of comfort in hearing.  That He has a purpose for my life, that He can use me to help others, that my life has meaning and value if I will let Him do with me as He wills.

Today I didn’t find those things comforting at all.  I was all set to tell God I don’t think all the years of suffering was worth anything at all to me however much it might have been of use to other people.  God was, as He always is, one step ahead of me however.

“I didn’t create you for this life!”  He said.  “The infant in the birth canal could say the same to me – why did you create me so carefully in the womb if the purpose was merely to put me through the pain, discomfort and distress of being forced out of it?

When your life span amounts to mere seconds the time it has taken to leave the womb is almost an eternity of misery yet you don’t think the infant should measure his life according to the distress of those few hours do you?

This life is a journey of mere seconds compared to the eternal life ahead of you once you pass through this valley of the shadow of death.  This life is merely the birth canal through which you must pass on your way to eternal life and it was eternal life for which I created you!  That life is one you will rejoice over having been born for.  Once you taste the life I really created you for you will spend eternity thanking me, with all your heart and soul, for having created you!

You will also,” He said with just the merest hint of irritation, “be sorry you complained so much.”

Negativity is not easily defeated but that really shut mine up completely and I suddenly feel a whole lot less negative about everything.

Hebrews 12:1-2  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I will run, with perseverance, the race marked out for me and I will fix my eyes on Jesus and the joy that is ahead of me.  I suddenly feel a bit like a little kid who has been told Christmas is coming soon hehehe

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