It's so vital to learn to trust God at work in us - the One who calmed the seas with one word, the One who heals, sets free, and delivers. Jesus Christ, the One who conquered sin and death and rose back to life, is the God at work in my life, and He lives in me. So while I do not put trust in myself, I can trust and honor the new creation in me that is being daily renewed through sanctifying grace. Because I am in Christ, I can and should have confidence in my decision making ability, my thinking, my convictions, my beliefs because all of that springs forth from my personal walk with the Lord. I should live firm and free, not because I have it all together or know all of the answers but because I am rooted in Christ, firm in His truth, and yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit. I can be confident but boast only in the Lord.
If I have learned anything from dysfunctional or toxic environments, the one marker is you begin to feel small. You feel less. You actually feel like you don't have a voice, or it's insignificant, or it doesn't matter. It's diminished. And slowly by slowly, you deteriorate—you self doubt. Question your own thinking, abilities, sanity, and purpose. Is this my fault? Maybe it's me? It's a slow death of losing yourself.
Friend, we do not have to live in that place. Whether you can remove yourself from the toxic environment, or perhaps you can't, what we can do is, we can take back our mind! Humility is not sitting back quietly while allowing other people's dysfunction to influence our thinking, diminish who we are, limit us, trap us, or take it as our own. It will only break us down until we are only a shell of our former self.
We're not being the "bigger" Christian just by avoiding "conflict" and yet find ourselves tormented and living in a constant state of guilt, anger, or resentment. There's a better way. We can approach these matters with loving grace and humility. And still, be true to ourselves. Stop apologizing for having a mind, especially when what you think or values differs from the norm or those around you. So as long as it is not contrary to God's Word or sinful. Why do we fear what others think? Why do we feel shame for having our own opinions and thoughts? For being uniquely us? Why live one more day feeling trapped and restricted by a prison we allowed for ourselves by allowing the "loudest" voices to determine what we should think or feel or do? Perhaps it's time to find a new circle. When you've done all that you can do, sometimes it's time to move on.
How many of us are tired and exhausted, trying to please others or fit in or be accepted by downplaying who we are or what we feel or think? We end up doubting ourselves and our own thinking, sanity, and personhood. We live double-minded, being tossed with every which wind. Exhausted and burnt out but not having "gone" anywhere further than where we started. I don't think we willingly choose this for ourselves. And hence the daily wrestle and struggle and tension.
While deeply long and believe there is more than what we are experiencing, sometimes the comfort of the known, even as dysfunctional as it may be at times, sometimes seems more comforting than stepping out into the wild unknown. Perhaps some of us actually fear the unknown. Or, perhaps we fear we don't have what it takes to step out. It's too risky. What if it doesn't work out. What if where we are "isn't so bad." Here's a better question. What if there is more, and it's not on us to make it happen, but rather, we partner with God in what HE is DOING. What if all He is waiting for us is to be fed up enough to get up and step out into something new and different. What if it does work out? And, what if it doesn't. What truly have we lost? We'll fall into the arms of a loving God. Nothing is lost. Nothing is wasted.
Friend, you matter. And it is God's desire and will for us to live in abundance. To live free. And it starts with our confession and our declaration. I can have a voice. I should have a voice. My voice has a place. My voice has value and significance. I should honor and trust my voice.