For years I was verbally abusive. No one knew about it. Never was I physically abusive so there were not any marks to try and hide, but I was very good at keeping secret just how cruel and intense my words could be. I couldn’t blame my parents for my behavior. They were always gentle, encouraging and kind, setting a wonderful example of godly parents. So, somewhere along the way, it began. I didn’t start out screaming or yelling. It was a harsh word here or there. I justified it in my mind as “constructive criticism.” “It would motivate to improvement and promote humility,” I told myself. I began creating a perfectionistic standard which could never be met and over time I continued the verbal harassment non-stop. The tears didn’t even faze me. I wanted them to be the tears of repentance for not meeting my standard. The one on the receiving end of my wicked “tongue-lashing” began to believe it was true—every word. Even when someone else would praise them, they would deny it—inwardly, if not outrightly. They believed in the Bible as God’s Word, but couldn’t imagine that even God could love them anymore.
You may be wondering to whom would I do this—one of my children maybe—and why would I do this horrible thing?!
The one I was daily, verbally abusing was… me. I was suffering and without even realizing what I was doing and its serious implications, I was the one inflicting the pain. No, I am not a person plagued with multiple personalities, but the internal dialogue, in which we all engage, was one of constant self-abasement and verbal abuse. I saw my true self as ugly, wretched, of no value, a failure, worthless and a continual disappointment to myself, others and especially God.
Being broken to a shell of a person no longer able to take care of my family, I began learning about myself and listening to what I was saying TO myself. “I can’t do anything right.” “I will never be any good.” “I always disappoint God. How could He love me?” “I am a terrible person.” “I’m not smart enough, pretty enough or ____________ enough.” “I’m not good enough for God.” “I’m a failure.” Many of us may get discouraged at times and feel this way, but if it goes on loud enough and long enough, creating a mental loop that plays continuously, it builds a very distorted view of self. A picture far from the one God has of His lovely daughters.
It may seem like a small thing, but the implications of this perverted picture of our beauty, value and worth to God is very damaging. Satan, in his desire to pull us away from God, will use an inaccurate perception of self to wreak havoc in several ways (2 Corinthians 2:11):
- It keeps us from boldly going before the throne of Grace to our Father if we continually see ourselves in shame even after we are forgiven of sin (Ephesians 3:12). Prayer becomes very uncomfortable, not a place of relief and peace.
- When we see ourselves as worthless to God, we will search to fill the void of needing to find our value and worth elsewhere—in our husband, children, friends, outward beauty, financial security, having a well-known name in the brotherhood or congregation we attend—even our own good works for Him. This, of course, keeps us from fully relying on and trusting in God.
- We are robbed of the joy found in the work of the Lord because we believe we are never good enough.
- Deep down we are convinced that if others really knew what we believed about ourselves (our inaccurate perception) they would be appalled and would reject us. So we hide our true self and feel even more like a hypocrite, pulling us away emotionally and spiritually from our Christian siblings.
- We can erroneously project our feelings of ourselves onto God, believing He truly sees us the way we see ourselves. Assuming He is continuously disappointed, the weight of the perceived failure distances us from drawing closer to Him.
As depressing as all this sounds, there is hope. Hope found in Christ is based on truth. To change our thoughts, we have to go back to God’s words—true, believable, powerful words—to see ourselves as God actually sees us. The faulty, established pattern has to be overridden and replaced with the truth. Saturating the mind with God’s specific words and determined responses coupled with much prayer will eventually begin to supersede the destructive internal dialogue. Even God’s own words may not sound believable at first. They may seem arrogant and boastful, but persisting in truth regardless of how we feel does achieve transformative changes to stop the verbal abuse.
Here are some of the verses with meditations that helped repair my heart (click here for February Divine Percolations Printable):
John 3:16 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
I find my worth in God’s love for me. I have great joy knowing Jesus’ sacrifice for my soul demonstrates how valuable and special I am to Him.
Psalm 139:13-16 (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.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”
It is true that there is no one else like me in the entire world. God deliberately and carefully created me in this time and place to fulfill His purposes through me. I am full of life and rejoice in His awesome work.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV)
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
As a cherished creation of God made in His likeness, I am confident of his love and care for me. I have been blessed with intelligence, beauty, creativity, and vitality to use in His service.
Matthew 10:30-31 (ESV)
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
I rest assured of God’s concern for my soul. It gladdens my heart and brings me happiness causing the beautiful grace of Christ to shine through my smile.
Romans 8:16 (ESV)
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”
Because I am God’s child walking in His way, I enjoy immense pleasure in the knowledge that my dear Heavenly Father treasures me as His very own.
1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
I am a part of God’s precious, glorious and holy temple in which God’s Spirit dwells. Faithfully holding a place there I am seen as lovely in God’s eyes.
2 Corinthians 2:15 (ESV)
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,”
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, I radiate a pleasing fragrance of Him to those in which I come in contact showing them the love of the Savior.
By Cheri Deaver
Cheri is wife to Weylan Deaver who preaches at the Sherman Drive Church of Christ in Denton, Texas. She is mother to Orrin, Lacey, Lexie and Ethan, as well as a new mother-in-law to Aubrie Deaver. She is blessed beyond measure for which God has so richly provided.