Strength-Giver

Posted By on Mar 7, 2013 | 29 comments


Ry_Wedding_reception cropped“How many months have you been in remission?” Bill, my new psychologist asked.

“Three.”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Good, I guess,” I pulled at the hem of my shirt. “But, I can’t shake
the thought that…it’ll return. I just wanna know…am I cured or not?” My chin trembled and I grabbed a tissue off his side table to dab my nose. “You’d think going through the treatment’s the worse part. It’s not. I mean, it is…but so is that doubt in the back of my mind. That lingering thought that I’m going to die. Sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing?”

“I don’t know, I guess because I’m complaining, speaking my fears.”

“And do you think someone in your condition has the right to complain?”
I shrugged.

“What other thoughts or fears do you have?”

“I don’t know,” I crossed my arms.

“What do you hear yourself say?”

My eyes shifted to the ceiling, then around his room. “What do you mean?”

“What else do you tell yourself?”

I hated this. I knew what he meant. “I’m pale, scared, bald, ugly…dumb.
People don’t take me seriously because I look young or say things the
wrong way.”

“Go on.”

“Um…” I played with my dampened tissue. “I’m unorganized, don’t do
enough at home. I’m tired and lazy. The house is a mess. I make
mistakes. My oncologist told me I’d have chemo brain. I didn’t really
know what he meant. Now it’s clear. I forget things, and repeat
myself.”

“And this makes you feel dumb?”

“Everything makes me feel dumb. I made mistakes at work and almost
got fired years ago. I’m a horrible writer. I freeze up when writing a
thank you note. Since treatment, it’s gotten worse. I forget dates,
special events, appointments. The other day I pulled out of my
driveway and turned a corner. Madison’s car seat tilted over. I forgot
to buckle my own child in.” I let out a breath. “Who does that? It’s
kind of funny now, but I felt foolish at the time—especially thinking
what could have happened if we were in an accident.”

“Why do you beat yourself up?”

Hands Of Desperation

“What do you mean?”

“Why do you tell yourself negative things? Do you think other people
make mistakes, like your boss or your husband or your neighbor?”

“I guess. But my mistakes are simple. Things average people wouldn’t do.”

“I see.” He paused. “I am going to disagree. God says you are
beautifully and wonderfully made. And if it makes you feel any better, even Moses felt inept.”

He wrote something on his pad.

“That’s a device of the Enemy, you know? To slip that wedge of doubt into our minds, He accuses us of being worthless, that no one would want to listen to us or use us. You should not think you are the only one. Look how much Moses accomplished, even with a speech impediment and a debilitating fear to confront others.”

He took out a clean sheet of paper and started writing.

“We are going to change your view of yourself. First, tell yourself
‘Stop’ every time a negative thought enters your head. You have a
broken record. Each minor mistake you make your record is there to
remind you. Are you willing to work on a few things?”

I hugged my stomach. “Yes, sir.”

“Great. We will start with daily affirmations. Each morning you will
repeat these things.” He wrote a few more sentences and handed me the
sheet. “Read them out loud, please.”

“I am perfectly happy to be me, for me.”

“I am good enough just as I am, for me.”

“I love and approve of myself, for me.”

“I am a competent worker, for me.” I put the paper in my lap and turned my head.

“Why did you stop?”

“Because it’s hard to read something you don’t believe.”

“Please, keep going.”

“I am a creative, prolific writer, for me.” I sighed.

“I am intelligent, for me.”

“I am organized, for me.”

“I am healed and whole, for me,” my voice broke. I dropped my head and
wiped the sudden tears.

“Why are you crying?”

“It’s hard—I don’t feel these things. I’ve never told anyone my fears
before. It’s embarrassing.”

“There is no need to be embarrassed. I am here to help. But the only
way I can is if you repeat these affirmations for six months.”

“Six months?”

“Yes. Every morning read these five times each while looking at
yourself in the mirror.”

I blinked.

“I know. It seems excessive. Trust me. This is how we change that
broken record. The first week will be difficult. You’ll feel foolish, maybe even laugh as you say it. That’s okay.” He leaned forward on his desk. “Next, I want you to get in the habit of journaling your thoughts daily. Write whatever comes to mind. If it is destructive or private, you can rip out the page or shred it. What is important is to get these feelings out.” He paused. “Then, read your Bible. Even if it’s only one verse. Start somewhere.” He smiled. “Come back and see me in two weeks and tell me how you are feeling. Sound
good?”

I nodded, never knowing I’d only need one more appointment with this
man…that what he was saying was really true: I wasn’t the only person
battling mental bombardment and I just needed to retrain my mind, and
replace my thoughts with living words.

Golden Treasure Box

“Before you leave, I want to you to pick out of the treasure box.” He pointed to a gold container on the table beside me. “These slips of paper are God’s promises for you. His Word was written to guide us.”

I pulled out a verse. “I can do all things through Christ who gives  me strength.”

“Perfect. He is the Strength-Giver, isn’t He?”

~~~~

I struggled with whether or not to include this chapter in the book. In the end, it was cut, but there was still a valuable lesson that I needed to remember. I can’t do life alone; not on my own strength, and I certainly needed to rewire my negative thoughts. Maybe that’s why God tells us to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up,” (Hebrews 12:1).

The sin (fear) that entangled my mind was a very human reaction. I obsessed and worried my days away. Looking back on this chapter of my life, I wish I could whisper in this young girl’s ear, “Life gets better. I promise. God will use this pain to reach others.” But at the time, I certainly didn’t see any hope.

Praise God for His word, and the ability to rewire negative thoughts with positive ones, and for sending people into my life to speak encouragement when I was so fearful of opening up.

 

29 Comments

  1. I love this. Thank you for sharing. I need to keep working on rewiring my brain. We are so much more than we tell ourselves.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes! This is so true. Those negative thoughts are our worst enemy. Rewiring is a must.

      God bless you.

      Post a Reply
      • Dabney

        Thank you for this post and your amazing book. I struggle not to be afraid of things that aren’t real, like health concerns. My mother died of cancer when I was 14 and now I feel frightened that I will leave my 6 children before they are grown. I know that I am now and always have been healthy and that I’m wasting my life giving this brain space. Oh and then I worry and feel guilty that I have damaged myself by worrying, how stupid is that! I can only get these fears out in the open because of your honesty, thank you. I read your book in just over 24 hours, every free moment I had, I read it, I will be giving it to everyone I know, it’s awesome. My greatest fear was that I would get cancer while I was pregnant and then have to chose between chemo and my baby, so your book has been just what I needed. We do not use contraception and so I worried that I was being irresponsible and I could leave my children and it would all be my fault because of my high ideals, but I forget how big our God is. I too am a control freak which is funny because God asked me to give my fertlity to him, this is a journey of trust. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that the God of the Bible is still at work in awesome ways. Love Your sister in Christ.

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  2. Good stuff, Dabney. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book.

    Post a Reply
    • You’ll be one of the first people I get a copy to. Okay, now I can spill the beans a bit. You’re in my acknowledgements section. :) How could I not mention the person who connected me to Nicole? Who gave me my first shot at publication?

      God used you in a mighty way.

      Blessings to you, Bryon.

      Dabney

      Post a Reply
  3. I LOVE your honesty! You are truly an inspiration!

    Post a Reply
    • Oh, I so wish I knew who wrote this.

      I love that you took the time to read this.

      xoxoxo

      Post a Reply
  4. Thank you for sharing such honest times. Life is hard and sometimes we forget that it will get better. There are many seasons of life. Some are really hard and some are amazing. You are an inspiration xo

    Post a Reply
    • Life is hard, Barbara. Sometimes we forget that others are going through stuff too. It’s nice to know we’re not alone and that we can be there for each other if we choose to open up. I wish I would have done that more. At the time, I was too fearful.

      Bless you, sweet friend.

      Post a Reply
  5. Dabney you amaze me with your honesty and willing to step out and share it. That is what I love about you is that you speak the truth and it pours from your heart.
    Your journey that you have had to take is an inspiration.
    Thank you for continuing to share your battles, frustrations, fears, accomplishments, love, sacrifices, laughs, memories, struggles, and your passion and persistence to never give up.
    Love you and I can’t wait to read your book.

    Post a Reply
    • Jayma,

      I smiled so big reading your name in the comments section. You have no idea how YOU encourage me on FB. I love following your posts.

      I’m blessed to call you friend.

      xoxoxo

      Post a Reply
  6. Hi Dabney,
    I discovered your site after noticing your comment on Bill’s blog. Thank you for sharing your genuine emotions with us. Philippians 4:13 is a verse that has helped me remember God’s amazing promise of strength when we endure pain. I look forward to following more of what God’s doing in your life.
    Many Blessings,
    Danielle Street

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks, Danielle, for hopping over. I LOVE Bill’s blog. I stumbled upon his site the other day and I’m blown away by his hope-filled attitude. It took me years to embrace and understand the many trials I’d been through. Oh, if we could only have the benefit of hindsight. God is good and uses every bit of the pain we go through.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Blessings.
      Dabney

      Post a Reply
  7. Hi Dabney, This is beautifully written. I look forward to reading your book – it’s absolutely amazing to read about your faithfulness through such difficult circumstances. If you’re interested in guest blogging on my site, I’d love to hear from you. Your story sounds amazing and I’m sure my readers would be encouraged and inspired by you!

    Post a Reply
    • I would enjoy guest blogging for you sometime.

      Thanks for the invite, and taking the time to read the post.

      Blessings!
      Dabney

      Post a Reply
  8. Dabney, you are a writer, Mommy Fay, Dad’s mother would be so proud, so you are her replacement on earth. You make everyone smile, we all have our hang ups, however, your heartfelt comments relates to all of us. You do it so well. With four precious children you home school, and to still have time to write your inner most thoughts is amazing. We all love to live in dabbyland for it is like wonderland to us.

    Post a Reply
  9. Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
    This tells me we ALL need re-wiring of the mind!! THANK You SO much for posting this. I have been going through a new season of doing just that in the last 6-7 months. I had so many deeply held wrong beliefs about myself and others. God is really freeing me by the transforming of my mind!
    WOW…if this was cut out, I can’t wait to read what was left in!!
    Thank you for being your precious self. I’m so proud of you!!

    Post a Reply
  10. I needed a good cry before bed tonight! Thank you Dabney for pushing me over Niagara Falls with this wonderfully honest post! Life did get better, didn’t it? And guess what?? The best is still yet to come! I love you!!!

    Post a Reply
    • You were there with me all the way. God knew I needed that.

      Xoxoxo

      Sent from my iPhone

      Post a Reply
  11. Some of those affirmations really struck a chord in me. I know I try to be positive all the time but sometimes I let some of the doubts I have about myself creep in my thought process. Thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to reading the book and getting it for others to read.

    Post a Reply
    • Dabney, everyday is a blessing. We are in a light snowstorm right now, and I am inside looking out, doesn’t get any better than that. Our trees haven’t bloomed yet, so this is a treat.

      Most of us do live lives of quiet desperation, I’m not speaking for myself, but there are those who feel that way. “God Bless America” and our great country, the land of the free.

      “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.” Eleanor Roosevelt

      Post a Reply
      • Thankfully those dark days are behind me. I still experience a dip every once in a while, but God has been so gracious.

        Love you, Aunt Pam! And I always enjoy hearing from you. Big hugs!

        Post a Reply
    • Heather, I’ve really been enjoying your posts lately. You draw me in with your catchy titles, and the content is always well-written.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Dabney

      Post a Reply
  12. Great post, Dabney!
    I had somewhat of a revelation as I was reading your post. When you were talking about having a difficult time believing what God says about you and having to repeat the affirmations five times every day etc…, the famous quote by Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister) came to my mind. He said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
    If this is the case for a lie, how much more is it the case for the truth?
    Looking forward to reading your encouraging book!

    Post a Reply
  13. I found your blog after Bill wrote about your book. Wow! I want to comment on how lucky you are to have worked with a Christian psychologist. My area needs more of them. And I LOVE the idea of the treasure box full of quotes. Congratulations on weathering your battles so well, and on getting your book out there. You are going to be an inspiration to many. May God continue to bless you and your family.

    Post a Reply

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