Over-Spiritualized

Something that’s become somewhat of a budding concern of mine (passion doesn’t seem like quite the right word at this point) is wondering how to provide more support for marriages within the local church setting. In the past year, just in our nearby Lutheran school/church community, there have been five divorces. Those are just the ones that we’ve heard of. Another marriage closer to our personal inner circle is in currently in critical condition.

Because I think education is important in building and sustaining healthy marriages, something I’ve been wanting to do is identify and begin to articulate the beliefs I had going into marriage, as well as ones I adopted along the way earlier on, that proved to be unhelpful and even damaging to myself, my husband, and/or our relationship. It is important for our beliefs to be based on what is true, as our beliefs will influence our thoughts and behaviors.

Much of the information I sought out that shaped my own beliefs, thoughts, and actions in marriage came from books sold by Christian resource ministries. Over the years, women have begun to speak up about the relational damage caused by the teachings in these at one-time popular marriage books, most of which I have read. As more and more time passes, and I’ve had time to reflect on how the application of these teachings played out in my life, I have been able to see how many of my personal and marital relationship struggles can be traced back to false things I believed to be true.

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Yesterday the boys and I spent the morning at a friend’s house. For nearly two hours the kids played with Legos and ran around outside while the mothers sat in our rocking chairs keeping warm by the space heater. One of the things we talked about was wondering if life would’ve been easier had we known or been better at certain things while we were younger. Examples included conflict resolution, emotional regulation, recognizing true and untrue thoughts, and awareness of our bodies and how its cyclical nature affects us personally. The biggest thing for both of us was self-acceptance.

One of the things I remember my 2017-2019 counselor saying to me was that he noticed I had a tendency to search for and analyze negative characteristics about myself. “I know this was probably my pride…” or “Maybe I’m just blind here”. I said, “Well isn’t that normal?” He said it wasn’t. I said, “Well isn’t that what we as Christians are supposed to do? Isn’t being able to admit our own faults the way we show we’re humble and open?” He also was Lutheran so he understood what I meant when I asked how we’re supposed to say or believe good things about ourselves when every week in church we’re forced to repeat what poor, miserable, sinners we are? Yes, I’m a sinner, but not so much of a sinner that I constantly need to be bringing it up week after week.

But the whole thing is kind of a radical thought. What would it be like to be okay with myself? To not be assessing and trying to identify what it is I need to change, where I could be or could’ve been better at something, what foods might help me achieve the results I am wanting, where my attitude needs an adjustment, where I am needing to give myself some grace and others too, where I need to swallow my pride and walk in humility. Self-acceptance is for the pagans, the ones who don’t believe they are sinners. Any term with the word “self” involved isn’t fitting for the vocabulary of a godly woman. Self is selfish. There is no self. Who I am as myself is not important and doesn’t matter.

4 thoughts on “Over-Spiritualized

  1. mrsmariposa2014

    You bring up an interesting point, Rebekah, and one that I can definitely relate to! I have spent most my life picking apart all that is wrong with me. Grace for others because that is the Christian way, but no room for any for myself. I didn’t deserve it in my eyes- something which has often become a self-defeating prophecy. Now, I know much of what I personally deal with goes back to the harshly critical words that were so much a part of my upbringing. Turning off those old tapes and replacing it with His truth is quite the challenge, to say the least. Yet, I never want to neglect that holiness and humbleness are also hallmarks of the faith. Our purpose is to both accept His grace and strive to become more like Jesus. Balancing this is very tricky. I guess it comes down to taking all our struggles to the cross each day and remembering to leave them there.

    Reply
    1. Rebekah Post author

      Marisa, thank you for sharing. The grace for others and not for ourselves seems to be a real phenomenon. It’s so true about replacing those old tapes of harsh or critical words. Sometimes I drive myself crazy trying NOT to be something in those tapes or worrying that I AM something in those tapes, instead of fostering the growth of the person God says I am and made me to be. There is truth in what people have said about taking the focus off of ourselves in those times and turning our eyes back to God, who in Jesus makes us new and whole.

      Reply
    1. Rebekah Post author

      Yes, definitely! Thank you for sharing and adding your thoughts. I always interpreted that verse as treating someone the way you would want to be treated. It didn’t occur to me that I could also be treating myself that way.

      Reply

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