Treat Yourself Honestly

Treat Yourself Honestly

Chapter Three

Treat Yourself Honestly
Tired Of The Same Old Peanut-Butter Sandwiches 43 Choose To Forgive Yourself 51
Overcoming The Enemy Of Worry 45 Give Yourself Permission 53
Eyes Of Faith 47 The Fifth Sparrow 55
Somatizing 49 Discussion Questions 56

Philippians 2:12-13; Matthew 6:9-13;

Matthew 11:28-30

Tired Of The Same Old Peanut-Butter Sandwiches

This morning I needed a roll of duct tape I knew was somewhere in the kitchen or utility room. I scrambled through cupboard after cupboard, drawer after drawer, most of them in a state of general disorganization. I found the tape, but only after considerable frustration and further disorganization. I thought, 'If I had a place for everything, I'd have saved a lot of time and energy. I could change all of this if I would.'

I remembered the story about two men who brought their lunches to work each day and ate together at noon. One day the first man opened his bag, took out a sandwich, looked at it disgustedly, and said, "Oh! Peanut-butter sandwiches again. I hate them!" His friend commented, "If you don't like peanut-butter sandwiches, why don't you have your wife make some other kind for your lunch?" "My wife?" replied the first man, "Why, I make my own lunches!"

I thought of the many areas of my life I'd like to have different – my "peanut-butter sandwiches" – and realized that only I could change them. My habit of sleeping until the last possible moment each morning, my tendency to eat things (sweets and junk food) which give my body a hard time, the correspondence that waits to be answered, the extra pounds I carry. These are all "peanut-butter sandwiches" to me.

God had led me to work at changing some of these into "other kinds of sandwiches." Habits are strong, but change is possible. Here are steps to help you: (1) Recognize what can be different in your life according to what you believe God wants for you; (2) Decide what you must do to make these changes occur; (3) Make a conscious choice to do what you know is necessary in order to get the kinds of "sandwiches" you want; (4) Set up a way to keep track of whether or not you are doing what is necessary to get those "other kinds of sandwiches." (Be accountable to someone; prepare a chart or graph to note when you are doing what you have set out to do; regularly evaluate how you're doing.) (5) Reward yourself, both short and long term, each time you do what you decided to do. Punishing yourself for not doing it is negative and detrimental to your change program. You'll get along better if you reward your successes and ignore your failures (except to analyze what went wrong); (6) Talk to yourself in encouraging ways. Remember that God loves you and wants what is best for you but that you do, in fact, "make your own sandwiches," and you can make any kind you choose.

"All powerful God, I thank you for the dignity with which You treat me as a person who is created with a free will, rather than as a robotic creature whom You mechanically control! I am thankful that You will never use Your divine power to force me to change

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my 'bad' habits, but I ask You, loving Father, to give me the desire to change and the power to change my negative behavior, that I might bring glory to You and benefit to those around me. Thank You! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: In spite of the 'pain' that accompanies behavioral changes, the ultimate joy of becoming more like Jesus in my behavior and my attitudes is the greatest joy known to a human being!

– Kay Kline –

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Matthew 6:25-34

Overcoming The Enemy Of Worry

I'm a perpetual worrier. Believe me, there is no happiness in worry. To make matters worse, I once read that it is a sin to worry because, if you worry you are not trusting God. I now worry about being worried. Although I believe God has fully forgiven all of my sins because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I still worry. I trust Him, yet I still worry.

Psychologists may disagree, but I have concluded that worry is a result of a threat to our personal happiness. As long as the conditions surrounding my life are favorable, I am happy. But let one little thing go wrong (something that seems to be out of my ability to control) and I will worry about it.

For example, I could not sleep last night because I was worried about something which had gone wrong in my business. Although I had thought through all of the "possible scenarios" and concluded what my response would be in any given possibility, I still was worried. At three o'clock in the morning, it was beyond my control. Yet after two quick phone calls in the morning and one brief meeting, the issue was resolved. I am happy again!

As long as my happiness is dependent upon my circumstances, I will be a perpetual worrier. I cannot control all of my situations. Inevitably, something is going to go wrong. Worry is never productive; it is always destructive. If I am correct in saying that worry is a result of a threat to my happiness, instead of trying to not worry, I should be concentrating on what truly causes happiness.

Here are a few things which I am discovering produce happiness: 1) Believing in who I am, not in what I ought to be or what I feel others think I ought to be. 2) Knowing that who I am is far greater than what I do. 3) Developing positive relationships instead of striving for personal advancement. 4) Knowing God loves me despite my faults. 5) Accepting God's unconditional love for me. 6) Passing on that unconditional love to others.

Perhaps it would be best left unsaid, but "don't worry-be happy!"

"If happiness were determined by me, O what a wreck I would be, Lord. Thank You for being there to hear my every plea. Thank You for understanding every worry that I carry in my heart. Most of all, thank You, Father, for being the solution to every worry. As I seek You, I know I will find You and all that You have planned for me. In Christ's name. Amen."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When I can't… GOD can.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Matthew 6:25-34; John 14:1-7; Philippians 4:4-7

Eyes Of Faith

Why worry?

Much of my life has been an exercise in perpetual worry. I tend to scan the horizon, checking out every possible turn of events to determine what might go wrong. Then I begin to worry that it will go wrong. This has been such a life pattern that I now catch myself feeling a bit uneasy if I don't have something to worry about. My mind automatically begins to roam: Will there be enough money to go around? Are the kids in good health? Am I? Is my husband? Will the cake fall? The ceiling crack? The car rust? Will it blizzard? Blow? Flood? And, if all else fails, are the plants looking kind of sickly?

Yesterday at lunch I said to my husband, Bruce, "I don't do much worrying anymore, probably not enough!" We began to laugh, for we had just been discussing the negative effects of worry. Somewhere I had picked up the idea that worry is one way of taking care of things.

The concerns which can bloom into worry are often legitimate and have their roots in the sensible acts of looking ahead and making adequate preparation. However, such thinking can turn into negative future expectation. For me, this is a destructive and sinful way of life. Why? Because worry is fear, and fear is inverted faith. It is faith in evil instead of in good and in God (perfect love casts out fear).

Worry visualizes undesirable future events and, by so doing creates an expectation in the mind. As a result of this negative expectation, one begins to act in ways consistent with that result, and, in reality, helps to bring it about by dwelling on it. Some call this the " self-fulfilling prophecy."

In contrast, Jesus says, "Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time" (Matthew 6:34, Living Bible). Paul further advises, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petition and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (Philippians 4:6-7, Message New Testament)

I am exerting my will to replace worry with faith: positive expectation and visualization rather than negative. I am seeing some things with the eyes of faith. I am believing, expecting, and trusting God through Christ to guide my desires and use my energies –

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mental, physical, and spiritual. I am listening to His voice, practicing the sense of His touch and presence. And I'm making progress. How about you?

"Lord, You have everything in this world under Your 'perfect control'. Without escaping my personal responsibility to work, plan, and organize my life, enable me to 'cast all my cares on You, knowing that you care for me'. Help me to be positive-minded, faith-fined, trusting, and deeply contented to live one day at a time. Thank you! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When I am tempted to worry, I will turn my 'worry energy' into 'prayer energy'.

– Kay Kline –

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John 8:31-32; Psalms 51; 2 Timothy 1:12-14

Somatizing

'Somatize' is a word sometimes used by psychotherapists meaning roughly, "To manifest in the body emotions otherwise blocked off from conscious experience."

In the fall of 1975, the fourth of our five offsprings left for college. It was a happy time, but inside I knew I would miss this daughter and special friend deeply. I did miss her and for several days after he left, I often felt like crying. I went about my work and dismissed my feelings.

One evening, not long after, I walked by her room and noticed its emptiness. A little later I felt a lump in my throat. It was as if I needed to cry but couldn't get it out. Later when I did cry, the lump still wouldn't go away. I could feel it; not enough to keep me from swallowing or talking, but it was always there. I began to be afraid.

I told my husband what was happening and he suggested I seek a doctor. Since I felt normal otherwise, I hesitated, hoping it would go away. I gave myself six weeks; if it was still there, I would see the doctor. It was, and I did. Horrible specters of tumors and goiters filled my mind. I was anxious and very fearful about what he would find.

My doctor, a sincere Christian man, examined me carefully and thoroughly. Then he said, "Kay, you don't have a physical lump in your throat. You have what is medically called 'hysteria' or 'womb in the throat'. What's been going on in your life?"

I related the events of the past two months including the "emptying nest." It became clear that my unconscious way of dealing with that change and loss was to Somatize. My body was giving me a message about emotions which could not surface into my conscious mind. The doctor replied that this symptom is not unusual for a "woman of my age." He said, "It's the kind of thing people feel embarrassed to talk about, so it doesn't get discussed much."

I responded, ''Well I'm going to talk about it. I'll tell anyone I think is interested." He laughed, offered me a mild tranquilizer (which I refused), and sent me on my way with his good wished.

The lump didn't go away very soon, but now I knew what it was, and my fear was relieved. I could accept my "Somatizing." I determined to unblock some of the emotion which had caused the lump. It took some sessions with a therapist to get the process going, for I had been blocking off a lot of my feelings – joyful as well as painful. Somewhere I had learned a common but unhealthy lesson: "Don't let your feelings out." Over the years, this had come to mean, "Don't even feel your feelings."

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"I hereby give all my conscious and unconscious guilt, resentment, fear, and all other negative emotions to You, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ. I thank You for loving, accepting, and forgiving me. I love, accept, and forgive myself in Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because I have placed my life within the 'palm of God's loving Hand', I will not be afraid to express my deep feeling of loss and grief to my God.

– Kay Kline –

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Ephesians 2:8-10; Ephesians 4:22-24;

Luke 6:36-38; Psalm 103:1-5

Choose To Forgive Yourself

She sat across from me in the little counseling room looking downcast and troubled. Her story spewed out in pain and regret. She related incident after incident, venting a grief which seemed endless. When tears finally came and the cleansing process was well on its way, I asked her, "Do you believe that God forgives you?" She looked up, surprised and startled, "Yes, but it doesn't seem to make any difference," she answered. "It's awful."

It was awful. Seeking the tenderness of a father's love, she had gone to bed with man after man, only to experience disappointment and guilt over and over. She had claimed God's forgiveness, but was still tormented by her memories.

I asked her one simple question: "You believe that God has forgiven you, but have you forgiven yourself!" Her face reflected a series of fleeting emotions that settled into serious wonder. "No," she answered. "And I cannot do that."

"Ah…," I answered, "You know something God does not know? You have some responsibility to continue punishing yourself when He, your Maker, says you are forgiven? What does this mean?"

"But it's too awful. I can't forgive myself."

"Can't:" I replied. "Please change the word 'can't to 'don't choose to', and repeat that statement."

Slowly she spoke. "It's too awful. I don't … choose … to forgive myself."

"Then you choose to block God's forgiveness," I reminded her. "For His own prayer states, 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' Remember that since you broke your own rules as well as God's… trespassed against yourself, your conscience… you are in need of forgiving yourself. If you don't choose to forgive yourself, you will only continue to suffer the consequences of misery and guilt which brought you here."

She began to cry once more, agonized tears of shame and bitterness. But when I invited her to repeat after me, "Because God loves and forgives me through Christ, I forgive myself," an expression of wonder and joy suffused her face. Her eyes, so full of hurt and hopelessness, took on the glow of realization. This simple act of saying and meaning those words freed God's Spirit to hear her.

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"Heavenly Father, if you are able and willing to forgive me all of my sins because of your Son's all-sufficient sacrifice on the Cross, then I know it is only 'right' and 'proper' that I forgive myself. For Jesus' sake, I gratefully choose to forgive myself! Thank you that your forgiving love enables me to be free from all self-condemnations.

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God forgive me through Christ; therefore, I forgive myself!

– Kay Kline –

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2 Peter 1:2-9; Galatians 6:4-5;

Romans 5:18-21; Romans 6:22-23

Give Yourself Permission

Five ministers' wives came for coffee one Tuesday afternoon. Their husbands were in town for a three-week continuing-education seminar. The women had driven in to spend the weekend and then accompany their husbands back home.

One of the wives mentioned that she had never before left their two daughters and gone away with her husband. She admitted she had felt very uncertain about leaving for the weekend and had carefully considered the matter before making arrangements to be gone.

"How do you feel about it now?" I asked her.

"Oh, I'm just having a wonderful time," she replied. "I know everything is all right, and I don't feel a bit guilty for leaving them."

The woman sitting next to her had been listening intently and now began to bubble and exclaim, "You gave yourself permission! You gave yourself permission!"

Then she added, "If you hadn't given yourself permission, you'd be anxious and worried about whether things are okay. You'd probably feel guilt, too, and ruin it for your husband."

I think she was right. It's just like forgiveness. God forgives me through Christ, but I tend to forget that I must also forgive myself. God gives me permission to do many things, and His Spirit tries to guide me to do them; but I sometimes fail to give myself permission. If I go ahead without first seeking guidance and appropriating my permission, I'll feel uneasy, fretful, and I'll worry about what might happen. If I do not go ahead, I'll probably sit at home feeling dejected, left out, and sorry for myself.

If I take my courage and His Word, search for His will and then give myself permission to act on it, good things result.

"Loving Heavenly Father, it is my strong desire to allow You to fill the 'cup' of my life with Your blessings and an abundance of meaningful life experiences. Help me not to 'run from life and from people', but instead to closely follow You. For you are the Fountain of all Life. You have given me 'all things richly to enjoy', so please enable me to enjoy all of life's rich and wonderful experiences. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Blessed is the follower of Jesus Christ who does not condemn himself for his involvement with those things that God allows!

– Kay Kline –

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Luke 12:6-7

The Fifth Sparrow

Have you ever had one of those days when you felt totally worthless? Days when you couldn't do anything right and whatever you thought was right wasn't? Perhaps the better question would be when was the last time you had such a day? All of us ride on the roller coaster of self-esteem, going from exhilarating highs to heart-stopping lows. It is at the low place, when we feel totally worthless and completely incompetent that we need some assurance. I recently found such an assurance in the mathematical mix-up between Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12:6.

Matthew and Luke are telling the same story from the life of Jesus and quoting his words accurately except that Matthew has Jesus say, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?" While Luke has Jesus say, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?"

As far as the price at the supermarket is concerned, both are correct. You would expect that if two sold for one, then four would sell for two; however, like the baker's dozen, an extra one is thrown in for free. Sparrows were so cheap and insignificant that the vendor would give a fifth one as a bonus if you bought four. At least the first four had some value attached to them.

It is that fifth sparrow that encourages me in my lowest moments. It was so cheap, so insignificant, so worthless, and amounted to so little. Then follows the glorious transition in both Matthew and Luke, "And yet… " (Don't you just love the way the Bible turns things around at what seems the most devastating moment?) And yet not one is forgotten before God." Not the first one, or the second one, or the third one, or the fourth one, or the next-to-nothing, existence of the fifth sparrow is forgotten before God. Even the sparrow that had no value to the world was valuable to God.

Jesus wants us to see and understand that if God cares about the fifth sparrow, how much more does he care about, know about, or fuss over us? Think about that the next time you feel really low.

"Dear God, help me today to claim my worth to You."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not put a smile on Satan's face by diminishing my estimate before God.

– William Jenkins –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Do you have personal "habits" or "practices" in your life, causing you considerable frustration in loss of energy and time and motivation, which you wish you could "change?" What "steps" do you think you will have to take in your life if these "hurtful habits" are going to be "broken?" Do you honestly believe that, although "bad habits" are strong, change is possible for you? Put a check beside the following "guidelines" (which are suggested in helping a person to break "old habits" and to form new patterns of behavior) that you think would be beneficial to you personally:

    • ____ a. Recognize what can be different in your life according to what you believe God wants for you.

    • ____ b. Decide what you must do to make these changes occur.

    • ____ c. Make a conscious choice to do what you know is necessary in order to get the kinds of "changes" in your life that you desire.

    • ____ d. Set up a way to keep track of whether or not you are doing what is necessary to develop "new habits" to replace the "old habits" in your life.

    • ____ e. Reward yourself, both short-term and long-term, each time you do what you decide to do to bring positive change in your life.

    • ____ f. Talk to yourself in encouraging ways to continue to reinforce your self in your ongoing pursuits to build "new" and "helpful habits" in your life.

  2. Do you believe it is a "sin" to worry? Why or why not? (Note Matthew 6:25-34)

  3. Do you believe that "worry" is a result of a threat to your personal happiness?

  4. Put a check beside those following statements which you believe describe "true happiness," defined from a Biblical perspective:

    • ____ a. Believing in who I am, not in what I ought to be or what I feel others think I ought to be.

    • ____ b. "Doing my own thing." when I want to, without the imposition of external restraints from others.

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    • ____ c. Indulging in every "fantasy" through the expenditure of much money on houses and cars and lands and clothes and vacations and food and recreation.

    • ____ d. Knowing that who I am is far greater than what I do.

    • ____ e. Exercising great talents which bring me the acclaims of society and personal advancement in my profession and career.

    • ____ f. Developing positive relationships instead of striving for personal advancement.

    • ____ g. Knowing God loves me despite my faults.

    • ____ h. Accepting God's unconditional love for me.

    • ____ i. Concentrating on making other people happy, by sharing my time and talents and counsel and material resources with others.

    • ____ j. Sharing the "Good News" with others that God loves them greatly and that He desires to give them new life and hope through Jesus Christ.

  5. Is it possible for one to be "full of worry" and, at the same time, to be "full of love for God and others"? Why or why not?

  6. Is it ever 'beneficial' (constructive') to worry? Why or why not? Why do some people think that worry is "one way of taking care of things"? How can you personally "discern" when you have "crossed the line" from legitimate and responsible "concern" for others (and their 'burdens'), and hurtful "worry" about others?

  7. Tell with what degree of 'conviction' you agree (or disagree) with the following statements: "Worry is fear, and fear is inverted faith. To worry is to put faith in 'evil' instead of in 'good' and in God."

  8. As it relates to the 'dynamics' of Worry; describe what is meant by the "self-fulfilling prophecy".

  9. When you are tempted to be full of worry and anxiety-ridden regarding 'external circumstances', what (according to Philippians 4:6-7) should you do?

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  10. Are you learning to be deeply contented to "live one day at a time"?

  11. Describe what is meant, medically-speaking, by 'hysteria' or 'womb in the throat'.

  12. Why is it dangerous for a person to suppress or to deny his "feelings" – joyful feelings or sorrowful feelings?

  13. Why is it 'foolish' and 'hurtful' for a person to continue to punish himself for his own past wrong doings (sins), after he has sincerely confessed his sins in true repentance to God?

  14. When God often gives you "permission" to do certain enjoyable things (activities, hobbies, recreation, etc.), why do you sometimes fail to give yourself "permission" to involve yourself in those "activities" and legitimate pursuits? Why do you tend to condemn yourself? If God has given you "all things richly to enjoy" in life, why do you (as a Christian) find it so difficult to fully "embrace" life with all of its joys and laughter and pleasures and happiness?

  15. Why is it so easy for Christians (like yourself) to ride the "roller coaster" of self-esteem, going from exhilarating 'highs' to heart-stopping 'lows'? How does Jesus' parable of the 'Fifth "Sparrow' (Luke 12:6-7) encourage you during times when you feel insignificant, incompetent, and even 'worthless'?

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