If you are following along in the print materials, this week's post and discussion questions are based on:
Chapter 13: The Power to Choose
Chapter 14: Can We Do it for Them?
Week Eight: The Power to Choose
In our study last week, we looked at the dangers of our desire to control situations and people. Out of our insecurities, we may find the tendency to want to play God or the devil. This week we look at the things we can and should control.
The Power to Choose
In the battle with our insecurities, we come up against a myriad of emotions and our reactions to them. How we respond to a trigger is key in our ability to overcome it. Freedom lies in our power to choose how we respond.
Beth breaks it down like this:
"By choosing to have a different reaction even prior to having a different emotion, we can effect an immediate sense of heightened security. The reaction leads to a new feeling, and the new feeling leads to more consistent reactions. The result? We spiral up.
One of the most common human claims is that we can't change the way we feel. That may be true, but we can change the way we think, which will change the way we act. And as we change the way we act, the way we feel also begins to change. In the breaking of every habit, someone wills it first and feels it later." (Chapter 13, pg 239-241)Can any of you relate? I can testify to the truth in this. It is such a relief to know that we can work with God in the changing of our hearts, by consistently working at a change of perspective and attitude.
Beth is in no way asking us to deny our emotions, but rather to set limits on our insecurity by not letting it attach itself to our emotions. We can deal with hurt, disappointment, uncertainty and shock all without being insecure. It's about guarding our sense of worth and value, while responding to our emotions with the strength God supplies.
There are several practical ways we can give our attitude and actions a makeover:
"The next time someone says or does something to you that has the capacity to dent your security, instantly think one of these thoughts toward that person:
You can hurt my feelings, but you cannot have my security. I won't let you. It's mine to keep. You cannot have it.
You can criticize me and even be right about what I did wrong, but you do not get to damage my security....
You might have embarrassed me, but I refuse to let it fall on me so heavily that it smothers my security....
You may be so intimidating and threatening that I feel I have to hand a lot of things to you, but I refuse to hand over my security. Who you are doesn't get to dwarf who I am..." (Chapter 13, pg 244)2) Prayer.
Ask God to fight your battles for you and through you, enabling you to stand in the confidence He supplies.
3) Memorize and Confess Scripture.
Repeat it over and over. Not just in the middle of crisis. Not just in the morning. But all day long, as much as you need to hear it, believe it, and walk in faith.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36In Chapter 13, Beth spends a good amount of time talking about the problem of pornography as an example of how to deal with tough issues in our closest relationships without giving in to insecurity. We can easily accept someone else's problem (especially a spouse) as our own and convince ourselves it is all about us. However it is love, the agape type of love, that makes choices in the best interest of others. Enabling a dangerous habit or addiction can only make the situation worse for anyone involved. A woman clothed in strength and dignity knows how to set loving and firm boundaries.
It starts with the choice to not let that person take our insecurity. Then follows a series of choices that will help the other person know what they are doing is not ok. Going to counseling, choosing not to participate, conversations about change... whatever is needed to be done, in love, to make the boundary line clear. It might be a long road, and it might be easier to give in, but real freedom does not come from handing over our security.
If Not for Us, Then for Them
Which brings us the main point of Chapter 14:
"Even if we think the effort needed to change is too much, even if for our own sakes we would just muddle through the rest of our lives entrenched in our old patterns, the story changes when we consider how our choices affect others. When we think about the legacy we're passing on to our children, grandchildren, or other people in our lives, we may suddenly find we're willing to make the change." (Group Experience, pg 89)
Do not take this on as another burdensome expectation that you must live up to. Remember that God's grace is strengthening us and changing us day by day. But there is a call to challenge us to better things, an urging to change, because of our love for others.
Do you sense that desire in your own heart?
Beth shares about the recent birth of her first granddaughter, and the realization that she will inspire Beth to change. The things she could not do for herself, did not do for her daughters, she knows this next little woman in the family line will draw out more change in her heart. It's a by-product of learning more about love and legacy.
Whether we have children or not, someone's child is looking at each of us. We have a blessed opportunity in a very dark world to be a shining example of strength and hope....of Christ...for future generations. Even our own generation. If not for ourselves, are we willing to change for them?
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3May many put their trust in the Lord when they see His work in our lives...
Memorize: Hebrews 10:35-36
Reflect: Psalm 42
1. What is your response to the idea that our feelings follow our thoughts and actions? Is it possible to you? Does it give you hope?
2. Have you ever experienced a time when your emotions changed in response to your actions? Explain.
3. Read Psalm 42. What are some emotions that the psalmist expresses? What can you learn from the psalmist's reminders to himself in verses 5 & 11 (as it relates to changing our attitudes by changing our thinking)?
4. Read Deuteronomy 3:19-20. What do you think it means to choose life?
5. What practical steps can you take to help change the way you think? (Some suggestions are listed above - do you have others?)
6. Can you think of things worth doing for someone else that you might not do for yourself? (This could be anything from taking prenatal vitamins for a pregnancy, to dealing with an addiction...)
7. What legacy do you want to pass on to the next generation of women?
8. Read Philippians 3:7-14. What is Paul trying to gain (what does he value)? How does this verse encourage you as you seek to change?