Dear Church Planter Wife,
Are you in hiding?
Are you shutting out part of the world in order to survive? Have you been coasting along –so busy caring for others– in power-on-mode for so long you forgot what it was like to have deep conversations or real relationships? Have you forgotten you are important, too?
I recently realized I had been stuffing some of my real emotions–hiding behind my own special brand of sin–specifically going to food instead of Jesus for comfort–in order to cope with some of my real emotions. This behavior has not done me any favors. I have gained and lost the same pounds–up and down–for the past fifteen years. And it is time for this to stop. My body, the temple of Jesus, deserves better than this and it is Jesus who provides the only real and lasting comfort.
What do you hide behind? Your calendar? Work? Shopping? Food? Something else?
Whatever it is you go to other than Jesus–if you find yourself in this situation–it is important to understand why you are doing this before you will be able to make a change.
For me, I recognized I was going to food because I didn’t want to complain or cause conflict. It has been hard for me to come out from the kitchen shadows and confront the real issues driving me to this terrible behavior.
What are the reasons behind our bad behavior, a.k.a. sin? How can we turn to Jesus instead of masking the real issue? I am not a psychologist, and this list is not comprehensive, but here are what I consider the top three things that trigger our bad behavior. I have included Bible verses to help you turn to Jesus rather than your go-to-sin. I hope that thinking through some of these things will help you deal with the obstacles on this bumpy path of church planting and life.
- Relationship conflict can be the strongest trigger that sends me to the pantry rather than Jesus. I can get so angry, disappointed, or hurt that I would rather eat than find a way to solve the problem. Conflict at church can be even worse than individual relationship problems.
- In scripture, God acknowledges the pain that comes with conflict. Paul and those who ministered with him encountered a lot of conflict in their travels. “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2 ESV) However, no conflict is too great for our God. I love the scripture that reminds us of God’s strength. “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17 ESV)
- Disappointment can set a spell of bad behavior in motion. We expect things to go one way, and they go in the complete opposite direction. We expect we will rent one facility for our church, and the whole thing falls through. We thought a family respected us, but then they turn on us. Bam! You find yourself ready to escape to the place that makes you feel better.
- God promises us that if we remain in him we will have fullness of joy. We don’t have to dwell on our disappointments. “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16: 10-11 ESV) When we experience disappointment, God has something else in store. From my experience what God has planned is far better than what I thought I wanted.
- Fear can send me into a tail spin. For some people fear can be all encompassing and cause panic attacks and make them frozen.
- Are you afraid? Our perfect savior loves us so much we don’t have to be afraid. “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. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19 ESV) God loves us with a perfect and complete love. He will provide. He has forgiven you. He is your protector. There is nothing to fear.
If you find yourself hiding rather than going to Jesus, consider what is stopping you from acknowledging your perfect freedom in Christ.
It would be wrong for me not to point out many of these tendencies can get out of control and we need additional help. If redirecting yourself isn’t working, find a counselor, doctor, or spiritual mentor and get to a better place.
For me, I have found a health coach who helps me remember how important it is to eat whole foods and exercise. I have also enjoyed the spiritual mentorship of a wonderful woman from Christian Resource Ministries. Check out what they have to offer, or look for services in your own area. You don’t have to do this alone.
Let me pray for you…
So many times we go to something other than you for comfort. We confess our sin and ask that you would help redirect us to you. You are perfect. You love us with a profound and everlasting love. Please help us to focus on you and allow you to be in control so we can come out from our hiding places and stand in your light. We love you!