Letting Go

I felt the need to expand on my post from last week. I had a buddy comment on the post, and I concluded I could have explained myself a bit better on how creating some new habits around who you want to identify as, can help you let go of some of the old stories, false messages and bad habits we have held onto for years.

So, letting go of the past. Let’s see if I can use an example from my life.

As we all navigate our lives, and live from the heart and in the Four Streams, we will take wounds to the heart. I have taken many.

My parents divorced when I was about 18. But, our family unit began to fall apart when I was 16. Those are very formative years in a young mans life.

And, early on, I received deep confirming “identity” from my loving family. My family brought me a sense of connectedness, security and love. It was a safe place for me to be. I think we all would agree that’s the case for most people.

And when my parents divorced, that security was swepted away in an instant. And a wound and message surfaced in my young heart. The wound and message sounded like this in my heart, “Matt, you are not worthy to fight for.”

Now, that obviously wasn’t true, but that’s how I felt as my family fell apart. And it was a painful experience. So, I created some bad “habits” that I thought would help numb the pain.

When what I should have done was turn to God for answers and how to deal with the situation.

Mind you, as my family was falling apart, I was not walking with God, and hadn’t been trained spiritually on how to handle the blow to my heart. So, I turned to what the world had to offer me. And the worlds solutions were not good or healthy for me. They never are. And, hence, a false identity formed and bad habits with it.

So, from the wound, a false identity and bad habits were formed. And as I grew older, those habits continued. And when something difficult in life happened, the way I dealt with the difficulty was to turn to the bad habits and to my flesh and sin as I sought temporary solutions for the pain. And the false identity was confirmed over and over through the bad habits.

The habits were like band aids, they would temporarily numb the pain and anger and get me through the difficult time.

Unfortunately, looking back, the bad habits sometimes confirmed the false messages and false identity. That’s what habits do, right? Our habits usually align with who we identify as. For me, the identity that surfaced was a wounded insecure young man.

At that time in my life, I had no idea God wanted to heal my heart and restore me to the man He wanted me to be. I knew God, back from that Christian camp in the eighth grade, but I was never discipled and trained to walk with God.

So, I lived my life in and through this cycle of pain and sin. This cycle, I believe, created a false identity. I identified as a wounded hurt young man. That’s who I was. Wounded and hurt. And life and my poor decisions seemed to confirm it at every turn.

Fast forward several years, and God woke my heart up! I prefer to use the word “woke” in that context! Ha! And I began to study all issues related to the heart. It’s when I found John Eldredge and the book Wild at Heart.

From my study, I began to learn ways to seek Jesus to heal the areas of my heart, like my family splitting up and how it affected me as a young man.

Over the years, God has given me deep clarity and insight into what the real fully healed Matt could look like, as I live my life as a Christian in today’s world.

However, over the last year for some reason, I have been leaning on old psychological bad habits that are not good for my heart. I believe many of us have experienced this type of assault on our hearts during Covid.

I think disconnecting during Covid and me backing off most of the ministry activities I once did, contributed to me slowly losing my “identity” as a healed, healthy and whole Christian leader and disciple maker. They were small losses, but I could feel the change. My confidence as a man of God was slipping a bit. I hope you are following me here. Hang with me.

Then I am introduced to the book, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. He writes that habits can be formed around the type of person you identify as. And these are psychological identifications.

He builds the case, that a way to change is to simply stop identifying as “something”. Like, I’m always late. To not be a person who is late, just create new habits that ensure your on time. And voila, you break the identity and habits of an untimely person. Pretty simple fix I think.

So, over the last several weeks, I thought I would experiment with what my life and thought life would look like if I simply made a list of who I identify as. That list included, man of God, husband, father, salesman, leader, writer. I then listed out several habits for each identification, and made a list of some of the bad habits I wanted to get rid of. Like, negative thinking, or reliving moments I’m not proud of, and identifying as a wounded man.

During this experiment, I have found that I’m letting go of some of the old stories and habits I have repeated to myself. The “unworthiness” stories that would send my heart for a loop. I’m turning those old stories and habits, and the way I’ve identified to the “old self” over to God. I’m simply letting go. Those negative stories and messages are simply melting away.

It’s a step I have never fully taken on this journey with God and navigating my life and my new heart in Christ. But, it’s a crucial step.

But, that’s part of Gods offer through Jesus, healing and to make all things new!

Researching different authors and praying about these posts are helping me learn to, just let the old stories go. Quit identifying as that wounded guy. That’s not who I am! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “we are new creations in Christ.” And that includes all things new! Even who we identify as.

And to see this new identity live on in Christ, some new habits must be formed.

Creating new thought habits are just like creating new swing thoughts in golf that help you repeat a consistent golf swing. And they must be practiced and repeated.

Creating new thought habits will help us remember who we really are in Christ. Like, I am worthy, I am a leader, I am strong in my faith, I am a trusted man of God. That’s who I am! It’s been refreshing to experiment with this new concept of identity and habits.

James Clears book, “Atomic Habits,” is a secular book, but as I read it, God is giving me insight into how the topic can relate to our walk with God.

Forming new identities and habits that align with our life in Christ bring a continuity that then brings consistency in our relationship with God and…a strengthened heart in Christ!

I hope and pray that brought a deeper sense of clarity for you!