Strangleholds and Video Tapes

“Egotism is pathological self-obsession, a reaction to anxiety about whether one really does count. It is a form of acute self-consciousness and can be prevented and healed only by the experience of being adequately loved. It is, indeed, a desperate response to frustration of the need we all have to count for something and be held to be irreplaceable, with price.” Dallas Willard – The Divine Conspiracy

When I was a child I remember making up these grand ideas of how I was so great at something in order to make myself feel like I was someone. The stories I came up with were absolutely ridiculous and now thinking back on them I find them quite funny, yet sad all at the same time. For example, I use to like to tape movies, being that DVDs were not invented yet. I would be able to get 3 movies per tape and I would take such pride in the order and organization of them. I remember going on and on dreaming about how people would stumble upon my tapes and would be just blown away at how good I was at taping them. I would dream about hero moments of being hoisted up on shoulders and wondrous chants being said in name of Shawn the amazing taper. Silly I know and looking back on this I am almost embarrassed to even confess it, being how stupid it is in light of real achievement. But the truth is I wanted to just feel important. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to just know that someone thought I was all right.

I grew up with my grand parents and even though I know they loved me very much, they didn’t love me the way I needed to be loved. I needed Parents that cared about my heart and while mine were off somewhere mostly likely getting high I never knew what that was like. I grew up affirming myself. I grew up dreaming grand Ideas of who I wish I were. I was never good at anything, never the kid who made it, never the athlete, never the straight A student, I was never cool, never funny, I wasn’t even a good nerd, I just was. And so I would make up these, to me, glorious achievements, of how I was someone. You see I felt so unloved, or even a better way of putting it is that I felt unlovable. That was the definition I came up with to explain my parent’s departure. And so I lived a bigger part of my life living in a fantasyland that took me to a place of deep self-obsession. I even to this day struggle with thoughts of self-worth. I am trying to learn how to reprogram my mind and heart. Hoping that someday that when the storms of “self-worth” flood in, the rock of “true-worth” will out weigh and I will be able to stand firm in the fact that I am uniquely made and deeply loved void of fantasy. It is one thing to say you believe these things, like being loved, but it is another to actually live in a way that proves it. I say I believe god loves me and my, oh so small life issues, but the fact I didn’t have a father makes relating to “God the father” a very hard thing for me to grasp.

I have been reading “The Divine Conspiracy – By Dallas Willard”. A really deep and slow read but very profound. That being said I wanted to state another quote that I think goes along the lines of reprogramming our hearts.

“So any significant change can come only by breaking the stranglehold of the ideas and concepts that automatically shunt aside Jesus, “the Prince of Life” when questions of concrete mastery of our life arise.” Dallas Willard

I am finding I have lots of strangleholds. That I have grown up believing life is one way but I am finding that my believe system to quickly falling apart. That the survival modes that I used to pull my self through the pains of childhood are the very things that are killing my life and the ones I love around me today. The self-centeredness that saved my heart from dieing as a child is now my greatest enemy. I think the only hope for life is on the movement of our father to bring us out of the shell of self. It is only there that flesh and blood separate and it is by the blood that we have life.

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10 responses to “Strangleholds and Video Tapes

  • Angela

    There’s this strange contradiction that can happen in our minds where we desire affermation from people in our lives that are important to us but yet somehow when we do get it we don’t believe that we are worthy of it. It’s hard to hear the words “You are worthy to be loved.” When much of your life the actions of those around you have said otherwise. We get so caught up looking for admiration from other that we over look that God has loved us from the very start, he has always found us loveable. Flaws and all. Personally, I know that I tend to have a hard time with “compliments” because of fear of someone finding out that I am not what they think I am and I don’t want them to know see what I see as the truth. It’s hard for me to train my mind to think that what they are saying is possibly more true than what I see in myself. I have to remind myself to try to see myself the way God sees me and only then can I let love in easily.

  • Linda

    Here is a Keith Green song about the way our Heavenly Father sees His children, emjoy…

  • Christopher

    Shawn,

    I identify with this post more than I care to admit. I recognize my own need to re-program my mind… and at the same time am aware (in myself) that recognizing the need doesn’t make doing it any easier

    Thanks for writing this though. And thanks for the book recommendation.

  • deanna

    The quote at the beginning of your blog resonates so much with my heart. I grew up in a two parent home. They loved and cared for one another, as well as my sister and me. However, I grew up, somehow, with feelings of inadequacy. I grew up with the same longing and desire to be loved and recognized that you did.

    I hid myself in people pleasing. I sought to do things for others that I knew they would appreciate, just to be noticed. If my deeds were un-noticed, I was devastated. When someone came along that could do something better than me, I was equally as devastated. I backed off – back into the shadows of loneliness and learned helplessness. It was more comfortable somehow.

    I hid myself in church. I hid myself in trying to please other people. I hid myself in trying to be who I thought other people wanted me to be. I made lots of friends, but I still felt lonely and miserable. I lost sight of myself. In all honesty, sometimes I feel like I hid myself behind “my relationship” with the Lord. I lost sight of who I really was and became someone I wasn’t.

    Out of high school, I went to college for a year, but dropped out because, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.” Honestly, I wasn’t sure what the people around me thought I should do with my life. My parents said one thing, my sister said another and the main influence in my life at the time – my pastor and his wife – I felt were saying something completely different. I sought after “who I was” and “what am I supposed to do with my life” for so long….Working at Subway was not the answer. Working at a desk in an office was not the answer. Working in the medical field (though I have never had any desire to do so) certainly has not been the answer.

    For me, the turning point was my thirtieth birthday (almost two years ago, now). I finally realized that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. It didn’t matter if I pleased everyone around me. I had to figure out who I was and what I wanted for myself. Deep down, I sort-of always knew what I wanted, but I had suppressed it for so many years, and quite honestly, didn’t think that I would be able to handle it (a.k.a. “wasn’t good enough”) in the first place.

    I had started school the year before, but I was pursuing a career based on my friends occupations and interests, not my own. I was really uncomfortable in the path I had chosen. I still had such feelings of inadequacy and doubt.

    Finally, though I had wasted a year, I changed my major. It was the absolute best decision that I have ever made. I am so happy. I have never, ever, ever been in a place that I knew, with absolute certainty, that I was exactly where I needed to be. I sit in classes, or even in the car studying for exams, thinking to myself, “I love this.” Who in their right mind studies for a test and loves it? Someone who is certain that they are finally on the right path, I guess.

    Shawn, I share just this brief, yet apparently long winded, sketch of my story to tell you, not that you need to go back to school, or that you need to forget what everyone else thinks. I share my story to give you a hope. I am so burdened for you and your family. It is not hopeless. You are not hopeless. If God can take the mess that I had made for myself and fill me with a new confidence and certainty, I believe that He can do that for anyone. That, in and of itself, says a lot. I have always been able to recognize God’s hand in the lives of others, but never thought He would work in mine…because somehow I wasn’t good enough. Now, I have seen that He will work in my life, and that gives me all the more confidence to know that He will work in the lives of others.

    I don’t have any profound words of wisdom to share. I simply see in you an honest and broken heart. I pray that the Lord will bring an amazing peace into the middle of your storm. I pray that He will do mighty things in you and in your family. I will continue to lift all of you up in my prayers.

    A sister in Christ,
    – dbr

  • Wendy

    Nice Post. I like this topic. I can relate to it. I used to imagine that something tragic would happen to me (like a car wreck) that would put me in the hospital unconcious and then I’d imagine all my friends standing around me while I lay unconscious in the bed (especially the guy I had a crush on). And they’d all talk sadly, and desperately about how upset they were and how much they loved me. lol, very comical now. Deep down in all of us there is that desire to be wanted, needed and loved.

  • Angela

    I know I just left a comment last night but when I got in my car this morning and turned on the radio, I heard “Freedom” by RunKidRun the first verse is “All my chains, I can’t disengage. I don’t believe that I want too. One hand sings Your praise, the other brings me shame. I have selfishness to blame.” Those words brought me back to your blog. Just want to let you know that I am praying for you and your family.

  • Lori

    Great post in that so many of us can relate to it. I struggle with my own insecurities and negative voices that I tried to cover with my own ambition and “greatness” at my career. What a house of cards it turned out to be.

    Thanks for your transparency. Praying for you and your family.

  • Liv

    the words you shared, as well as Deanna, have totally touched my heart. as much as i would never wish these feelings and emotions on anyone else, it’s almost comforting to know that someone elses brain works the same way mine does.
    i still have a heard time grasping how God as a father could love me, since mine here on earth failed me.
    i pray that God gives you insight into His love, and that you are in turn able to bless Cohen in the ways he needs. Sounds like you’re off to a good start. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    I really needed to read this today.
    Particulary, this quote made sense to me, “That the survival modes that I used to pull my self through the pains of childhood are the very things that are killing my life and the ones I love around me today. The self-centeredness that saved my heart from dieing as a child is now my greatest enemy.”

    It’s interesting that I was talking about this very subject with my boyfriend yesterday, on our long drive back to Arkansas, after hearing you in Chattanooga Sunday night. 🙂 and then read it in your blog today.

    I often think of the song, Strong Enough, by S Orrico; the lyrics, “will my scars forever ruin all God’s plans…”

    My only hope is this…it’s “by the blood that we have life.”

    Thanks for sharing your life with people you don’t know.

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