[by Barb Smith] For the past two years, I have been on a journey seeking answers for my damaged emotions which, I believe, also affected my physical well-being.
I realize now, my greatest struggles have come from my fear of rejection stemming from insecurities about myself, my appearance and my relationships.
I couldn’t say “no” to anything or anyone because I was trying to please people. I spiritualized my actions thinking I was denying myself and making sacrifices. It felt biblical.
In her book, The Emotionally Healthy Woman, author Geri Scezzaro, a pastor’s wife with four children, shares her story. Continually giving her time and energy to her husband, church and community, Geri felt that saying “no” to demands placed upon her was not an option.
Feeling lifeless and unfulfilled she finally gave up. It was then she realized she was dying to the wrong things.
“Dying to the wrong things means depriving yourself of God-given gifts and pleasures that nurture your unique life in Him.”
All my Christian life, I understood that denying myself meant being willing to ignore the desires and interests I was drawn too because it was selfish.
I confess my confusion when applying this verse to my life.
“If anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:35 )
We need to deny sin such as jealousy, gossip, cheating and lying. However, we should not deny those things that give us life.
In order to live a healthy spiritual life we must find a balance between serving other people’s needs and desires and valuing our own. From my experience, I can say that denial of the wrong things can lead to an unhappy existence.
It was a defining moment in my Christian walk when I realized that my motivation to help others had turned into a desperate plea for love and acceptance.
Two years ago, I attended a five-day seminar where I received healing for my damaged emotions. In every situation, the root of my pain was a result of rejection I had experienced throughout my life.
The repeated rejection created a deep need for the approval of my peers and a “driveness” to give and help others. Their approval fed my self-esteem so that I would feel “good enough”.
The words of the woman speaking to our group hit me like a rock, “You are saying to people, please love me.” It was a defining moment when I realized this truth.
In her book, Geri says,
“The problem comes when validation from others becomes something one must have.”
I had become addicted to the approval of others and it created an unhealthy balance.
I had to forgive those who had caused my “woundedness” and embrace my value as a child of God. I left the seminar feeling loved and valued for who I was.
I began to nurture the gifts and abilities that I had ignored for so long. It made me feel alive.
I began to change.
My confidence grew and a wonderful sense of well-being filled me. Relationships were fun, work became easier, giving and caring for others gave me joy.
Always deferring to others and caring for them to the detriment of yourself and your family reflects a lack of understanding and misapplication of what it means to deny yourself.