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Voices in My Head

By Tricia Kinsman
In Hope & Healing
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I struggle deeply with not being enough, with body image, and with internal critical words toward myself. I can help others through their similar struggles, sharing all the good that God has for them, but it has always felt indulgent for me to believe the same things for myself. When I finally became truly aware of my negative self-talk, I couldn’t “unhear” it; I knew it was revealing what was in my heart.

After sitting with God and asking for His help with this, scripture verses I had known for a long time started to take on additional meaning. They were coming alive with conviction that, through my negative self-talk, I was speaking against God’s image-bearer—and that really got my attention. The Holy Spirit was revealing truths about my current thinking, and the following verses started me on a journey of change regarding God’s intent for me.

The first verse that really got my attention was Matthew 9:4. This is the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man. The scribes were thinking that Jesus was blaspheming, but then verse 4 says, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?’” The story is about something else, but for me, I realized that Jesus was calling me out on my negative self-talk. He revealed to me that thinking negative thoughts about myself was just as bad as thinking negative thoughts about others. And I started to notice more…

The word ‘truth’ started to jump out of the pages of scripture as I sought to surrender the untruths in my heart about myself. Ephesians 4:15 says, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects.” All aspects—not just speaking gospel truth to others in love (I could do that easily), but to myself as well. I’d already been made righteous, and while that was easy to believe in theory, it hadn’t been evident in my words to myself.

2 Timothy 2:15 is the verse that my grandmother underlined in the Bible she gave me when I was baptized at age 11. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” When I was younger, the only words I saw were diligent workman, present yourself approved, (which fueled my perfectionism), and ashamed (I carried a lot of shame out of my childhood). But as I re-read it through the lens of God’s truth for me, I saw the words anew: ”handling accurately the word of truth.” It was God’s words about me that I needed to handle accurately!

Galatians 2:5 states, “But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.” This spoke deeply to the untruths that live in my head, ones that are so often yielding in subjection to the critical words of my mother (and others). I now realize that for the truth of the gospel to remain in myself, I cannot yield for even an hour to the untruths spoken by others about me.

Psalm 15: 1-2 says “Who may abide in Your tent, but he who walks with integrity, works righteousness and speaks truth in his heart.” Here Jesus was telling me that intimacy and fellowship with God requires that I allow Him to speak His truth over me, and then believe it and repeat it to my own heart.

It wasn’t just God’s words, through the Bible, that helped me. The second part of this little adventure was realizing the value of healthy Christian community. Over the years, it’s been communities of believers that have affirmed me; not just as an image-bearer but as a gifted image-bearer with good gifts to bring to others. I realized this year that I was missing a big part of the Christian life because I had disengaged in life-giving community. When I’m separated from community, my natural inclination is to discount myself. However, I struggled with whether I had the energy to give to that, after coming off a few long years of caring for my aging parents. With new intentionality and the help of a counselor, I took risks and friendships slowly began to happen. But then came Sissy with the question: “We’re finalizing Formation groups this week. Do you want to join?” I said “yes,” not knowing if I could really do it. And what a blessing it’s been! Just having others in my life that regularly support one another has been an encouragement. My soul needed what God provided.

I’m still allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in me, reminding me that I am His Beloved and am already righteous in His sight. I know He has gifted me in order to do good works which He has provided and equipped me to do. I believe the truths that God has spoken to me through scripture, and I’m thanking Him for the community He’s provided to speak truth to me even when my mind takes me to darker places. It’s a lifetime of work, but I’m determined to hear more of God and less of me.

Hope and Healing Ministries at IBC offers a variety of opportunities to heal and grow in community. For more information please visit www.irvingbible.org/hopeandhealing.

If you are interested in joining a Formation Group, go to www.irvingbible.org/formation.

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