Your personal identity—how you see yourself—is often shaped by your early experiences in life.
Maybe you had a great childhood and have always had a relatively healthy self-image. Then again, maybe your parents or grandparents said and did things that made you doubt your worth. If you’re in the second group, then I can relate.
From the time I can remember until I left home at the age of 18, I was sexually, verbally, emotionally and physically abused by my father. And I carried those emotional wounds into my first marriage (he treated me badly and eventually left me), and then into my marriage with Dave.
Back then, I had a very messed up self-image. I was controlling, manipulative, angry, critical, negative, overbearing and judgmental. All I had grown up with, I had become.
Like many of you, I desperately needed to believe that I was who God said I was (see Ephesians 2:10).
Where NOT to Find Your Identity
During those years, I was born again. I loved Jesus—and I believed that my sins were forgiven and I would go to heaven when I died. But I had no peace, no joy, and no victory in my everyday life.
Here’s what my life actually looked like: I felt condemned all the time. The only time I didn’t hate myself was when I was working toward a goal, because I thought that gave me a sense of self-worth. I was worn-out, burned-out, frustrated, and absolutely miserable!
Jesus had paid the price for my total deliverance, but I had no idea how to receive His gracious gift.
We Need That “Light Bulb” Moment
One day as I was reading the Bible, I came across 2 Corinthians 5:7, which says, For we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises].
The Holy Spirit stopped me and asked, Joyce, what do you believe about your relationship with God? Do you believe He loves you?
I discovered that I did think He loved me...but only if I was doing all the right things. And what I desperately needed to believe is that God’s love for me was unconditional.
What a breakthrough! That was the beginning of my emotional healing. It has been a process, but today I can honestly say I am healed and content. I know in my heart that God loves me—and I also love myself.
I encourage you to do what God told me to do: Saturate your mind with the truth of God’s Word. It is filled with reminders of His unconditional love for you!