The Heart Issue

Reflect and Write

Think about a sin that you have that God has been urging you to address.  What is the root cause of that sin?  Is there a lie that you are believing that has led to this lifestyle or challenge?  Is it a cycle that keeps repeating in your life?  When did it start? 

I read an article from a Christian divorced woman recently that was actually honest about the struggle that comes from knowing what it’s like to be physically intimate and having no boundaries with your husband to learning to relearn healthy emotional and physical boundaries again.  It’s hard to have had that intimacy between a husband and wife and suddenly not have that anymore, no matter how little that happened in your marriage.  Between the loneliness that we experience being single again and the lack of divorced Christian mentors, it’s way too easy to get back into that lifestyle of dating and sex.  It’s easy to drop walls when someone shows you attention that you have been lacking.

My fear is the perception that people have of the sins that I am being honest about.  How could a woman who knows God as well as I claim struggle with this sin so badly?  I remember this girl my age that I was in a bible study with in my 20’s.  She wanted to know God so passionately and repented so hard but struggled with sexual sin in bouts for months at a time, just like a person in addiction.  During those seasons of giving into the sin, she would separate herself from all her believer friends and stop going to church.  She would then hit rock bottom and repent, come back to church for a short time until she fell again.  This cycle went on until she finally gave up and gave into her sin, at least that is the last I heard from her.

Reflect and Write: Is there anyone you know that has given in to their sin cycle for the long run?

The ideal situation would have been that she would have repented and never gone back, but we know that to change our sin lives everything needs to change in our lives.  We can’t be a sober alcoholic in a bar.

Many times, in those not so obvious addiction sins, Christians assume that verbal repentance is enough, but it’s not.  They say, repentance is to “turn away” so just turn away, we think.  But during these lifestyle sins that keep us in the same sin cycle, we must acknowledge that there is a heart issue AND an issue of our environment. We will only talk about the Heart Issue today.

The Heart Issue

Now, the biggest justification that I hear about alcoholics is “It’s an addiction, you can’t expect them to magically change.”  If alcoholics can’t change immediately, then why would we expect those other sins to change so fast?  For these addiction sins, it’s obvious that each decision must be rethought.  The brain must be retrained.  We must learn to cope with difficult emotions and situations in a different way than we did before.  We must acknowledge that the way that we acted and thought before does not suffice.  We must be accountable and surround ourselves with people who have gone through the same issues.

But many other sins, like ones sexual in nature, are so hidden and not easily identified by the outside world.  We can hide it, but we can also get blindsided by it if we are not careful to redirect our focus and change our decision making process.

One of the things as a divorced woman that I’ve noticed is that many who get remarried, more often than not, marry the same type of man they divorced.  I try to avoid the same red-flags and men as the one I divorced, I can honestly say that I’m a magnet for them.  Men with addiction issues come out of the woodwork to find me.  I can confirm pretty easily that if a man begins to talk to me, they have been to rehab or need to go.  As much as I try to fight this, mostly by putting up a wall and avoiding all human interaction, I keep being faced with the same type of men.  I realize that there are a ton of issues that stem from my childhood. Growing up as the child of an alcoholic influences all my decision making, especially about men, and makes me want to replicate and fix the issues of my past. (To know more about this concept, READ THIS.)  It’s important for us to acknowledge how our habits and past influence our decisions today.  We must acknowledge that there are cycles that we enter into  are stemmed from a lie that we are believing about ourselves or about God.

So this is my cycle:

  1. I avoid all human interaction.
  2. A man attempts to talk to me.
  3. I shut them down aggressively.
  4. They either call me a bad word and walk away, OR they keep trying until I give them a chance to talk.
  5. When we do talk, I tell them how much I have been hurt and passively try to get them to decide to go away. Once they keep going, I try to give them a reason to go away by showing them how messed up I am. This is actually contradictory to what I want to do because they perceive my openness about my weaknesses as intimacy and connection.  I am being a victim to my circumstances rather than choosing who is going to be allowed into my life.  I am only allowing them in my life because they keep trying, and I ignore the red flags and attempt to give them a reason to leave.  I am opening up to them to get them to go away to make it their decision just so I can confirm that they were as messed up as I thought they were.
  6. I keep appeasing their conversation and slowly drop my guard because they keep listening and “prove” that they aren’t scared of all my issues.  I slowly get comfortable and perceive their attention as connection and love.
  7. I feel the need to repay them physically and by taking care of them.   I try to keep my guard a little, but it is slowly broken down by my assurance that they won’t leave and they love me for who I am because I shared my worst with them so they knew what they were getting themselves into.
  8. I begin to take over the relationship by being the initiator of everything. I do the asking; I open up first; I take care of everything that I feel they want or need to be okay.
  9. Then, after I have given up my identity in order to support this person who has given me nothing but a hearing ear and being there (during the short term at least), a person with addiction issues, anger issues, and other major red-flags (the same red flags I had with my first husband), I ignore and appease and continue to be okay with mediocre because they are present.

Reflect & Write:  Is there a cycle that you continue to repeat?  Identify the steps you take.

At this point, I must realize that my sins in relationships and sexual sins started well before the action.   It started through compromise, then step-by-step repeating the same cycles, and by believing the lies that this type of thinking is normal or “just the way I am.”

As I have gone through the cycle this last time, I have talked to God about it, and I perceive that He is sitting back going, “Are you sure you want to go through this same cycle again? How did that work out for you last time?”

I hear women who live in this cycle say things like, “I just love too much and too deeply.  I need to find a man who can handle it.”

This is a lie.  What this really means is, “I don’t have any boundaries. I want to give you my whole being before you have earned it.”  (Jefferson Bethke has a video about this here.)

We all have been too influenced by these happy Hallmark movies.  It’s so easy for them.  The girl has a wall up and it takes about 30 minutes for the man to woo the girl enough for her to realize that he is the one.  He cherishes her heart. He loves her for who she is and gets swept off her feet into the arms of a man who won’t hurt her.

We want the same thing but end up giving men about 30 minutes, a date night, or a month to “earn” our hearts and our bodies.  We try to be strong, then we fall and give in to our inability to create a different outcome.  We give up and then shut God out.  Because we don’t think that God can live with us, or is okay with hearing from us, if we are constantly choosing to disobey Him, unaware that our decision to give our bodies wasn’t the initial sin that got us there.  The sin started way back and is ingrained in our sin nature that started in our childhood.

The lies that I began to believe about men which started in childhood are as follows:

  1. Men are strong on the outside but fragile, insecure, and need a woman to give them the confidence to keep looking like they are strong.
  2. I can create an environment where men can feel good enough to go on even though they would crumble without me.
  3. If I do anything bad or against a man that I love, it will make it harder for him to fulfill his potential.
  4. If I pour my heart and soul to him, he will want to replicate that intimacy with me.
  5. If I give him my heart and my body, he will return that by cherishing me.
  6. He will be trustworthy only if I trust him. My trust must come first.
  7. If I build up a wall, only guys worthy of my attention will get through.

Reflect & Write:  What are lies that you believe that began in your childhood?  Write all of them down that you can think of.  If some are mentioned above, write those, too.

As they say, the first step in healing is acknowledging that we have a problem.  We all have lies that we believe.

Now, give your list to God.  Ask Him to begin to bring those to light and begin to heal them.  One of my lies that he has brought to my attention is my people pleasing and not giving the decision over to men to decide whether they want to be with me or not.  I can make that decision. I can tell them no and not cause them to crumble.  If they are that delicate, then I don’t need to be around them.

Let’s pray:

Lord, I can crumble under the weight of my bad decisions and sin cycle.  I intentionally make decisions to compromise for immediate gratification knowing that it will lead me away from You and Your will for my life.  I desire to turn away from my sins and sin cycles but continue to fall into the same patterns.   I give this list of lies that I believe to You and ask You to heal my past hurts and beliefs that lead me into the same lifestyle.  Bring about a change that I cannot even fathom.  Use my past sins and wrong thinking to Your glory.  Change me and make me into the woman you have created me to be and allow me to walk closer to Your will through my obedience and communication with You.  

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