Stop Putting Your Own Chinks in the Armor (or How We Should Stop Self-Sabotaging Our Relationships)

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Not too long ago God showed me something yucky about myself that I didn’t want to see.

You see, I was feeling stress in my new relationship, and I didn’t know where it had started, didn’t know what had happened to bring me to this icky place of insecurity. You see, when I started dating J., I told him, perhaps a few too many times, how awesome and healthy our relationship was, how he was an addition to my life, a blessing, how I had come to a place where I knew I’d be okay if we didn’t work out (but of course I wanted us to work out!!!).

But recently, I was a hot mess in my emotions. And I knew it was coming from a place inside. I had shared my feelings with a few close girlfriends, and all believed that God was trying to heal me from my past. What if what you are experiencing isn’t actually an attack from the enemy on your relationship but God trying to heal you? 

Yeah, yeah. I see some truth in that, my mind said. My emotions, however, hadn’t caught up yet.

So one day, when an onslaught of feelings overtook me, I grabbed my car keys and took a drive with God, and I prayed, “Lord Jesus, please show me when this insecurity started, when things shifted from healthy to me being a worrywart of crazy. Can you show me the moment?”

And God, being so awesome to answer His daughter (and having been waiting all along) showed me that moment. He showed me that moment and then all the things that happened afterward, all the mindless things I had been doing to hurt my relationship, to erode trust.

You see, I was “trying” to find something wrong with us. “Trying” to find reasons to not trust my boyfriend. “Trying” to find chinks in the armor of our relationship. “Trying” to find evidence that he was going to hurt me the way my last long-term boyfriend had, the boyfriend who left my heart in hurricane heartbreak.

As I began to see all the ways I had been hurting us flash across my mind like a movie screen, I confessed to my accountability partner and found some freedom.

When you’ve been hurt, there is almost this desire to protect yourself from the potential of being hurt again by making sure you get out before you get hurt. So you begin almost (no, you do begin) looking for chinks in the armor. I had been doing this, and now I was going to stop.

J. has given me no reason to doubt that he loves me and thinks I’m the bee’s knees. (Did I really just say that? Lol.) He knows my past and does his best to protect my heart in this area; when I am concerned, we talk it out. So now it is up to me, with God’s help, to do what I can do. To change what I can change.

While we can’t control another person, and people will hurt us and sometimes relationships don’t work out, we “can” do our part to keep God in the center, stop self-sabotaging behaviors, and learn and grow from each relationship.

For You:

  • How might you be putting chinks in the armor of your relationship? What might be the cause of this behavior? If you’re in a long-term relationship, calmly discuss with your partner. If your relationship is fairly new, it might be a good idea to talk to a counselor or trusted friend.
  • Pray to God, asking Him to show you the truth from the lies. Ask Him to calm your heart and show you the part you can play in your healing. God wants us to be whole, and sometimes what feels like chaos is actually the pain of past hurts coming to the surface so that God can bring them to your attention and heal them for good.
  • How can you find healing from the past? Perhaps journal to God. Write down verses about your worth to Him, and repeat them when you are feeling insecure or worried—see the Father’s Love Letter for a compilation of verses that display God’s great love for you. Find a good counselor. And remember, it’s easy in the early stages of relationships to get wrapped up and forget to spend time with your friends and family or do the things you love to do as an individual until you find yourself depleted or feeling an imbalance. Sometimes, we just need to start finding balance again, taking care of ourselves and reincorporating other parts of our lives back in. Don’t beat yourself up or panic if you find this happening, or if you start spending a little less than every waking moment together because pretty much every couple has this shift after a few months. It is normal.
  • Speak words of life aloud—encourage yourself! When the enemy would have me step into fear or self-sabotaging behaviors, I am learning to speak words of life instead. Yes, it’s very Stuart Smalley-esque, and I wouldn’t recommend talking loudly to yourself in public, but reminding yourself that YOU ROCK, that your guy CHOSE “YOU,” that God made you and LOVES YOU UNCONDITIONALLY—and reciting God’s word aloud, especially the verses that speak to your situation—is all very life-giving. And scriptural. David, for instance, encouraged himself in the Lord a lot! Too, sometimes God allows us to go through things because He wants to strengthen us to finally act and say, “Enough is enough! I am tired of this struggle or feeling this way. I want healing, and I want God’s truth!!!” Like the man with the mat whom God commanded to “Get up! pick up your mat and walk.”

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

—John 5:1–9 (NIV)

Jesus loves you, and He will help you (and me!) through this, and we’ll come through stronger for it! We don’t have to be controlled by our past hurts and hang-ups!

God can use our relationships to grow us and to heal us.

I am lucky to have met a man who has patiently walked through these fears with me, but I don’t want to continue making him pay for the sins of another, or for the sins of my complacent “lying down by the pool”—letting fears, my past, and insecurities keep me paralyzed and weak. I know how frustrating it can be to continually have to reassure someone when they believe something of me that is simply untrue. It can even make me want to stay away from that person.

So, instead, I am taking up my mat and being proactive about saying “no” to the enemy’s continual attempts to keep me in this yucky, sad place, surrounded by the “invalids” of fear, insecurity, jealousy, comparison, etc. that speak to me from all around.

A dear friend of mine who has been with me for a good part of my life’s journey believes that God is trying to heal me of these insecurities once and for all—or in a deep way that I finally and truly believe that I am worthy and valuable, and worthy of love and true respect and honor. She calls me, too, to get off my mat and walk—calls me out when she knows I’m sitting by the pool again, wallowing in those old patterns or words of self-hurt. It’s good to have friends like that.

Is there something in your life that you just can’t stand anymore? Maybe it’s time to say “enough is enough” and pick up your mat and take a step away from that fear, behavior, or stronghold. God will give you the strength to do it and to continue along your journey away from the yucky stuff.

We can’t depend on our partner or a future partner to cure us of our insecurities or fears. When the man told Jesus he had no one to help him get into the water (which had healing properties at certain times when an angel would come down and stir the waters), Jesus simply told him to take up his own mat. He didn’t have to wait for another person or for a special miracle time. He didn’t need special water.

He just needed the willingness to pick up his mat and walk away.

To tie it back into the chinks-in-the-armor metaphor, I have begun to see these fears seeping out of the armor through chinks I myself had put there through feeding the fears, through just lying in the fears, almost basking in them, letting the enemy have a field day in my mind. And it feels YUCK. The fears that have mainly been in my mind have started to seep out, and I don’t like this at all!

I’ve realized that my attempts to protect myself from getting hurt are the very things that are hurting me and my relationship.

Enough is enough, I’m picking up my mat and leaving this place!!!

Have a wonderful week!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

—Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 

 

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11 comments

  1. Andrea, wow! I am impressed and wowed by where you went with this. I loved the armor metaphor but the most powerful analogy you used here was the comparison to the man on the mat. Being able to see your fears and insecurities in that light is empowering.
    I am glad to be part of your life journey, my dear friend, but I’m even more glad you are part of mine. I learn a lot with you and feel stronger and more saine for knowing you.
    I know I’ve done a lot of this self-sabotaging in my relationships. I think what is interesting is that I also do this to myself in self improvement attempts. For example, when I first started working out, I quit because I feared what I was becoming. I honestly didn’t know how to protect that healthier version of myself, so I retreated back into bad habits that I felt more secure in. Now, years later, I have to face those fears head on if I want to live the kind of future I want for myself.
    Whether in a relationship or just with your own self, self-sabotaging behavior is something we need to get serious about overcoming.
    Thanks for this post, friend. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading! I’m so glad you found helpful insight in this post. Your revelation is so intriguing to me: “I quit because I feared what I was becoming. I honestly didn’t know how to protect that healthier version of myself, so I retreated back into bad habits that I felt more secure in.” Wow. I want to think on this. You know I am here for you as you make this journey toward health. We’re in it together! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I could not count the hours of my life I’ve spent imagining the worst. Lately I’ve realized I’ve done this to prepare and rehearse my response to heartbreak, so I won’t be a fool again. But what a waste of time! Bad things may happen in my life, but God will walk with me and give me strength. And there is no evidence that my beloved partner (who God brought to me) would do me wrong. None. Everything I see in real life tells me I can trust him. Because he is who he is, and because I can trust God. It’s time to enjoy every minute! Thanks for reminding me! Oh, and I love the suggestion to speak words of life out loud. This is powerful!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, sadly I lost my comment so I will try to reconstruct it here.
    Thank you for sharing in this post because I AM that man at Bethesda and I am so tired and weary and as a result I’m not moving forward as I should.

    I need to do some serious soul searching to find out why I am sabotaging my recovery.

    Thank you my friend for opening up your heart. You have helped me more than you know.
    I am forever grateful to call you my friend.

    Love you

    Ruth

    Liked by 2 people

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