For those who wrestle with habitual unwanted behaviors, particularly sexual ones, could it be you need more confidence? Let’s talk about the One Sign You Don’t Believe Who You Really Are.
Over the years, I have talked with countless men and women who are baffled as to why, despite the hatred they have for the sins they’re doing, they continue to repeat those sins again and again. They describe feeling horrible about what they’re doing, fearful that others will find out, and ashamed at how much their bodies enjoy the sin.
But what they miss is how their feelings about their unwanted behavior actually reveals why they’re doing what they’re doing.
I got this wrong for much of my life. I kept sinning sexually and hated this about myself. Others helped me to began to discover that I was doing what I was doing as a way to try to cope with the trials and difficulties of my life, both past and present. But what I missed for a long, long time was the simple question: Why was I going to those behaviors to try to cope? Why not something more healthy, more hopeful, or even simply more productive?
In other words, what I was missing was that the self-hatred wasn’t the result of my sexual sin, it was the reason for it.
Let me say that differently: I was returning to the dark because I didn’t believe myself to be a person who belonged in the light. I was returning to shameful behavior because I was ashamed. I was returning to behavior I hated because, on some level, I despised aspects of who I was.
If you struggle with habitual unwanted behaviors, could the same be true of you?
Consider the following questions to help you answer:
- When you fall to your unwanted behavior, is your instinct to beat yourself up?
- Do you struggle to receive God’s love for you more after you sin?
- Do you struggle to receive the love of other people after you sin?
- Do you struggle to receive the love of God and other people when you’re tempted to sin in this particular way?
- After you give in to sin, does it take you a while to confess it to others?
- In Romans 7:20, the apostle Paul writes, “If I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.” Does this feel like a copout to you?
If you answered yes to the questions above, it may be you have a deep-rooted sense that you are worthy of the sin and shame your sin stirs up, and this may be the reason you keep returning to your sin.
So now what? What are you to do if you suspect you may be returning to a particular sin because of deep-rooted, faulty beliefs about yourself?
I have good news and bad news.
The good news is you’ve just discovered a new door you can walk through and begin exploring. Find a good counselor or spiritual coach who can help you discover what kinds of things have contributed to your deep-rooted shame and self-hatred, and invite the Father to replace old, faulty beliefs about who you are with new, true ones. Just as Jesus asked His disciples, you can ask Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?”
The bad news is that it can be intimidating to forsake old, stenchy ways of thinking and believing about yourself. For all that’s wrong with these old views, they’ve also provided you with benefits—perhaps a sense of security, familiarity, control, someone to blame, excuses, or something else. I know for me, laying down faulty views of myself and accepting who God says I am means making myself vulnerable, speaking up, throwing my hat in the ring, pressing through fears of failure and fears of success, being willing to hope for good things in my life, asking for what I need, and much more.
If you hate what you’re doing but you keep doing it, is it possible you keep doing it because, on some level, you believe you deserve no better? Could Jesus be inviting you to lay down your old nets and follow Him to a new vision of yourself?
I’d love to hear from you! Which of the six questions in the middle of this post ring true for you? What do you think Jesus is inviting you to know or believe about yourself?