A year or so ago, as I was deep into my codependency treatment (receiving counseling, reading every book I could find on the subject, going to meetings, and working all the steps), the verse of the day was read on the radio. I’ve heard and read this verse many times in my nearly 40 years of life, but this time was different. I REALLY heard it this time! I have to admit I can be a stubborn person…thick skulled, dense..whatever you want to call it, yet somehow this time when I heard this verse, it went straight through this thick skull of mine and sunk straight into my heart. I kept thinking about it all day, and finally at the strangest time and place, I decided I had to get my thoughts on paper. So, as I sat in the Dodge dealership, waiting for my oil change to be done, I scribbled down these thoughts on blank paper that I had to go ask for, as I am not in the habit of carrying around paper just in case the rare moment occurs that I just have to write!
The verse that was read was Romans 8:1, which states, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Thankfully, I had a smart phone because I felt like I probably should look up the definition of the word condemnation before I began putting my chicken scratch on paper. The definition I found says that condemnation is: the expression of very strong disapproval; censure (which I also had to look up. It is SEVERE disapproval). The synonyms for condemnation are: criticism, denunciation, censure, vilification.
We codependents (I say “we” because I definitely fit the description as well. I learned from the best! Thank God I’m recovering from that!) tend to ‘condemn’ ourselves in many ways. We condemn ourselvs by the lies we tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough, fit enough, deserving enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough. Because of these lies we’ve told ourselves and believe, we’ve condemned ourselves right into lives full of shame, fear, anxiety, unworthiness, and unhappiness, among other things.
We condemn ourselves to the vicious cycle of doing so much for others that we neglect to do for ourselves, in many cases (mine included) to the detriment of our own physical health! Then, we become resentful of the very same people we’ve done so much for and feel victimized! So now, we’ve condemned ourselves to being maryrs and victims. We’ve done this to ourselves, either voluntarily or because we neglect to set healthty boundaries, much less stand firm and enforce those boundaries.
We’ve taught ourselves that we don’t deserve the same care that we so readily give to others. We’ve taught ourselves that nobody can or will love us the same way we love others. Well, if you think about it, how can anyone love us that way when we don’t even love ourselves in that same way? If we always make ourselves the victims, why would we ever want or allow anyone to love us that way? If we don’t even accept love and care from ourselves, how can we expect to accept it from anyone else?? I know that I really struggled to accept compliments, gifts, or love from anyone. Someone could give me a compliment like, “You look so pretty today,” and my reply would be something like, “ Ugh, my hair wouldn’t do anything today!” I’ve had to seriously work hard to change that. No matter how badly I want to reply with something contrary to the compliment, I’ve learned to simply say, “Thank you.” It really isn’t as hard as it sounds!
My gymnastics coach was one of the people who helped me come to the realization that I wouldn’t accept praise or compliments. He’s also one who helped me change it! It was after I did a front flip off the balance beam that he said, “Wow! That was your best one! Good job!” I didn’t beam (pun intended) with pride and reply with thanks. Instead, I replied. “It should have been higher. I was kinda low.” That’s when he stopped me and told me that I’m terrible at accepting compliments, and he made me tell him thank you.
When it comes to gifts, I love to give, but sometimes I actually feel guilty when someone gives me a gift! Why? I have no idea. I just know I love to give but am uncomfortable when it’s time for me to receive. So how can I be upset that people don’t do for me what I do for them, and then not be a gracious receiver when they try simply because it makes me uncomfortable? Does any of this sound familiar at all? Does any of this sound crazy? YES, it is crazy - and what’s worse is that I’ve done it to myself. I’ve condemned myself to these feelings of guilt. Nobody else did it to me. This is all on me.
Where am I going with all of this?? Oh yes, back to Romans 8:1. To refresh, it says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” In other words, there is no disapproval; no criticism. All of these lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves,. the disapproval of ourselves, the neglect of our own needs and wants, the negative and critical things we think about ourselves, are NOT TRUTHS! They’re NOT VALID! If we are in Christ Jesus - walking with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, and living our lives according to His will to glorify Him - THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION! If there is no condemnation, then what’s left? How about love? How about empowerment?
Instead of accepting a life of condemnation, let’s claim the truths of God’s word over our lives! Let’s remember that God is for us, and that means no one can be against us - not even ourselves and our own “stinkin’ thinkin’”! Let’s allow the love of Jesus to flow through us! Let’s love ourselves as Jesus loves us! After all, He made us in His image, which means we are awesome! Let’s lift ourselves and others up and empower each other! We are children of the most high God! There’s nothing better! Believe it! Live it!