5 lies that keep us spiritually stuck
Years of abuse, neglect, betrayal or rejection can lead us to develop self-protective mechanisms to mask the pain we feel. The fear of being vulnerable and risking more pain prevents us from seeking help. If we do not know how to go to God for relief, we remain stuck in a dull existence, incapable of experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised.
John 10:10 ESV … I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
When we can’t let our guard down
Self-protective mechanisms certainly take up a lot of energy. We often end up feeling weary, tired or heavy.
Unfortunately, coping mechanisms only cover up emotional griefs and frustrations, they don’t make them go away. We can even feel the toxicity of buried emotions in our bodies, manifested physically as restlessness, mental torture, poor sleep and body pains.
Subconsciously, we remain guarded and on constant alert – unable to rest and enjoy God’s deep, unshakeable joy, hope, and peace. We want to run away and isolate ourselves. Alternatively, we find ourselves easily irritable, judgmental and joyless. We wrap ourselves with a hard exterior.
Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
When we live with a constant “flight or fight” mindset, we find it hard to trust others. We may yearn for relationships where we feel free to be ourselves, but are terrified of opening up. Such vicious cycles of caution and hiding keep us from going to God for restoration. When left unchecked, people will eventually fall into loneliness, depression, self-hatred, or suicidal thoughts.
The lies that keep us spiritually stuck
No one chooses to stay stuck in a graveyard of lifeless emotions.
Believers only remain stuck when we become trapped by lies. God calls us to put down our own misguided beliefs and self-developed patterns. He desires to gently restore our crushed spirits and revive our courage.
Isaiah 57:15 ESV For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
1. “I am all alone.”
It is virtually impossible to be alone, spiritually. God’s Spirit is everywhere, we cannot escape Him no matter what we do. He is the One who holds life in this universe together. Without His life-giving presence in all of us, we would merely collapse into a heap of dead carbon matter. The fact is, we are never alone, even when we retreat into our dark inner worlds and ignore or reject Him. He is right here, even as we read this post.
Psalm 139:-8 ESV Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
Job 33:4 ESV The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Colossians 1:17 ESV And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
2. “No one understands my pain.”
No one chooses to suffer. Yet God chose to suffer terribly as He took on our sins. We will never be alone in our pain and grief. Jesus understands our pain intensely. For our sake, He willingly suffered torture, humiliation, injustice, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, thirst, hunger, grief, and more. Jesus empathises with every pain that we hold onto.
Isaiah 53:3 ESV He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
3. “No one cares.”
Embedded into every human being is a deep need to find meaning in life. Burning questions such as “Do I matter?”, “Am I wanted?” and “Do you care?” drive us to look for our value, meaning and significance, particularly from our family of origin. This is also what drives adopted children to tirelessly search for their biological parents, even when they are dearly loved by their adopted parents.
God’s Word reminds us not to look to any human being for perfect loving care. Only God is the perfect role model for both fatherly and motherly love. Only God can show us our significance because He is the One who created us. In His eyes, we are precious, no matter what we may have done.
Isaiah 49:15 ESV “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Psalm 103:13 ESV As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
God cares intensely for us. He painstakingly and intricately designed us as we were in our mother’s womb. Every single detail of our lives has never escaped His notice. He will always help us through difficulties if we go to Him for wisdom and counsel. We will only feel like no one cares for us because we try to define our value through other imperfect human beings, rather than through God. Only God can give us perfect, deep, and eternal restoration. All other sources can only offer us temporary relief.
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
1 Peter 5:7 ESV Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
4. “Even if I confess my pain, I may still be rejected.”
God will never reject us when we cry out to Him for help. In fact, He is so kind, gentle, compassionate and humble that He knocks on the door of our hearts and asks to be allowed in. Even if our loved ones reject us, God will receive us.
Romans 10:11,13 ESV For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Revelation 3:20 ESV Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Psalm 27:10-11 ESV For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
5. “Even if anyone knows, no one can help me.”
Jesus died to exchange His perfect life for all our imperfections, including our pain and grief. He can and will relieve us of our emotional pains when we give Him our burdens. He knows exactly what we need. Not only has He witnessed everything we have gone through, He is always ready to support us as we submit to Him. He is our perfect Saviour, He never grows tired of helping us.
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him…
Isaiah 40:28 ESV Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
What these lies are built on
These five lies have such potency to keep us locked up into spiritual strongholds, because they are built around a few key human weaknesses.
Past pain and disappointment teach us to fear. We worry that God will let us down, just like other people have. Out of fear, we equate our perfect God with imperfect people.
God’s Word tells us that fear is not from God. When we put down our fears and allow God to gently bring us out from our graveyard of emotions, we will experience His perfect healing, restoration, and redemption in deeply nourishing ways.
1 John 4:18 ESV There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Our magnificent Creator is able to make all things new.
Isaiah 43:19 ESV Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
When we misunderstand God’s faithful love for us, it is easy to give in to shame and feel bad about who we are or have become. Shame is a dark hole that keeps us from moving forward. We believe lies such as, “I need to hide this part of me”. We remain trapped in spiritual darkness until we decide to walk out of it to seek help and counsel. God, in His infinite generosity, promises to remove our dishonour and fill us with double portions of His goodness and joy. He rewards us when we walk out of the darkness of our shame into His light.
Isaiah 61:7 ESV Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
Isaiah 50:7 ESV But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
Pride is a misguided sense of ourselves. It compares us with other people and says, “I’m different, I’m unique, I’m special. There is no one else like me.” In a rather twisted way, we can even magnify our painful experiences and tell ourselves that our pains are “superior” to others, and believe that no one will understand what we have been through. God’s Word says that there is nothing new under the sun. We all go through similar emotional turmoils.
Proverbs 13:10 NIV Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
God did not create human beings to punish and accuse us. Yet when we fail to meet the standards we have set for ourselves, we can start to punish ourselves with self-accusing thoughts. We believe lies such as “I am making this mistake again, I am incorrigible and hopeless.”
Jesus came to redeem all our broken and imperfect parts so that we are able to flourish and live a full life. He did not come to condemn us. No perfect Father condemns a child who stumbles as he or she is learning something new. This is also why He gives us His Holy Spirit to live inside us; so He can personally guide us. We bring God glory when we persist in following His Spirit, not when we condemn ourselves.
John 3:17 ESV For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
When we allow emotional pain to build up over the years, it will eventually begin to dominate our thoughts. A cloud of sadness and sorrow builds up over our heads, and we begin to indulge in feelings of sadness, helplessness, and self-pity. We are unable to understand God’s truth that we are “more than conquerors” through Christ. Instead, we ask “Why me?” in a cry for comfort, affirmation, and attention. We focus on our pain and ignore the presence of God. Sadly, self-victimisation is one of many forms of idolatry.
Romans 8:37-39 ESV No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 73:25-26 ESV Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Healing through confession and prayer
God is a Master of renewal and new life. He who created us can also re-create new life – if we allow Him to.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Jesus came to give us an abundant life. He died to give new life to those who are “weak” and unable to step out of darkness on their own. Satan, on the other hand, only seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace and destroy our hope. The enemy tells us torturous lies to keep us in spiritual darkness. We must be wise with regards to who it is we choose to listen to – God or Satan.
Romans 5:6-8 ESV For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 10:10 ESV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
1. Submit ourselves to God
No person has ever died for us. Only Jesus has. No one on earth is able to counsel, comfort and heal us perfectly. Only the Holy Spirit can. He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 ESV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Just as He gave up His perfect body for us, Jesus invites us to give up our imperfect selves to Him so that He can make us more like Him, through the power of His Holy Spirit. This is the reason He died; to give us His life. First, we need to choose to die to our past and leave it behind so we can receive Jesus’ new life.
John 11:25 ESV Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
2. Acknowledge our mistakes
Fear, shame, pride, self-condemnation, and self-victimisation are ungodly and prevent us from walking away from our graveyards of emotions. To break free from spiritual death, we need to repent of our ungodly coping mechanisms and invite God’s Spirit to heal the darkest areas of our hearts.
Ephesians 5:8 ESV for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
3. Seek godly counsel and prayer
God created us to live within a God-fearing community, not alone. He even promises to be amongst us when “two or three are gathered in His name”. Other people are able to empathise with our pains, point out our blind spots, share God’s truths with us, and most importantly, pray with us to seek the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
Matthew 18:19-20 ESV Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Proverbs 11:14 ESV Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
It is important, however, to exercise wisdom in choosing the believers or counselors we open up to. Some important qualities include:
- God first: Prays and consults God often.
- Exhibit God’s grace: Will not hold onto judgments. Focused on redemption, not condemnation or “fixing” people. Will not be controlling or manipulative.
- Fear God more than man: Willing to speak the truth in love and nudge us in our journey of healing. Will point us to God, not to themselves.
- Confidentiality: Will not gossip or slander.
- Humility: Kind, patient, respectful and gentle. Will not be easily offended. Willing to practice mutual confession.
Just as we seek these qualities in our counselors, we too must be willing to practise these same principles. Accountability and counseling with God’s people is a two-way street.
Proverbs 27:5-6 ESV Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Also, see Confessing to receive freedom
4. Receive discipleship
Living as a new creation requires us to renew our minds and walk out our lives within a healthy family of Christ. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know. We all need to share our collective wisdom, love, grace, and counsel, encouraging one another to know and follow the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
Jesus resurrected Himself from death after three days. He is certainly able to resurrect our broken parts and give us new life too!
1 Corinthians 15:43 NLT Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
Some of us have been stuck in emotional graveyards for years, or even decades. God calls us to leave the past behind. He wants to do something new in our lives that will bring forth hope, joy and peace. Let us listen and follow Him.
Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
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