A few days ago I realized it – that I’ve been quietly caught in a claustrophobic tension between being too much and not enough all at the very same time. It’s how my insecurities seem to play themselves out. Some women struggle with their weight. And feeling too fat. I struggle with the mirror. And feeling too ugly. And it’s embarrassing to say out loud. But I’ve got to. You know? To know I’m not alone. Right?
It’s a weird thing how Satan attacks in whispered accusations with a constantly-changing assault that sucker punches your stomach when you’re busy covering your face.
It happened to me the other night as we got ready to meet some friends for dinner. “You are not beautiful” through the process of putting makeup on became “You will never look this pretty again” with the process of taking it off before bed. I was thinking about it today as I settled into the quiet afternoon with a sleeping babe – about that one-two punch that snuck itself in right there between the makeup wipes and toothpaste. And as I chewed on it, two snippets of verses met up together for a moment in my mind:
take every thought captive and He leads captivity captive
That first part? It was a piece of 2 Corinthians 10:5. And the second? It was a sliver of Psalm 68:18. As the words mashed themselves up together, I reached for a pen to scribble them down – to make sense of the suddenly stitched-together snippets. To dig up the deep-down truth of it all.
I didn’t get very far in my digging before I found a cross-reference to 2 Timothy 3:7 and a stop-me-in-my-tracks warning against gullible women. The ones who are loaded down with the burden of their sins. The ones who are “forever inquiring and gathering information but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth.” (AMPC). And then I got stuck there, unsure that I would call these insecurities sin-burdens. But I wrote the words anyway and then let them sit here, drafted. For a day. And then two. And then three. And as each day passed my gullibility of Satan’s lies grew until the thought of even re-visiting this partial post felt crippling.
But I couldn’t shake that one gullible word, so I returned to 2 Timothy 3, mulling over Paul’s words.
But that’s not me I thought as I read his description of a silly, weak, and gullible woman. I’m not burdened down by sin.
But you’re weighted down with lies, His Spirit whispered.
I couldn’t argue. So I began writing a list of lies – every right-then thought that prevented me from publishing these words. And I realized: that day’s weights weren’t the same as last week’s. It was a different kind of piled-on pressure that heaped onto the top of that distorted mirror reflection that peeked out from a cracked self-image. And I had to acknowledge it right then and there before the untruths piled up higher: I am a lie-burdened woman.
So I went back to those days-old, suddenly stitched-together words, and I began to dig.
bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
The Greek words that are used there in 2 Corinthians 10:5 specifically refer to thoughts with an evil purpose (like those whispered-lies that fueled my mirror insecurity). All of them – both individually and collectively. Every one. In every way. In all manners and means. As many as may come. Thoroughly. Wholly. Whatsoever. “Take them,” Paul says, “and imprison them.” Confine them and isolate them to the obedience of Christ.
And that is where I hit upon an interesting word picture. It’s hidden inside the Greek word used for obedience. The on-the-surface definition is an attentive hearkening, compliance, or submission. But the root word? It means “to listen, to harken (of one who comes to listen to the knock on a door to find who it is – the duty of a porter).” And a porter, as it turns out, is essentially a gatekeeper – someone who is tasked with opening and closing the door to a place, only letting in the people who already designated on the entrance list.
With that dug-out deeper meaning, I then took that 2 Corinthians verse and re-wrote it in my journal this way:
“Bring every individual and collective evil thought – in all manners and means, as many as may come; thoroughly, wholly, whatsoever – take them and isolate them and toss them to God to be dealt with. And after you do, close the gate of your mind and re-train your ear to listen for the unique door-knock of the Spirit of God. And only open the door to Him.”
And then, Psalm 68:18 made its way into the narrative:
You have led captivity captive … that the LORD God might dwell there.
Those evil insecurity-fueled thoughts that I just listed and gathered up and threw out and barred the door to? They left behind a gaping and echoing room. And God wanted to fill it. Because, when I deliberately take every single one of those thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ, He “leads away captive a train of vanquished foes.” (Psalm 68:18, AMPC) That the LORD God might dwell there instead.
It’s just like the sea cucumbers that Erin Loechner talked about one time. The ones that release their organs to a predator as a defense mechanism and are quietly reborn in a few weeks. They spill their guts, surrender their insides, become reborn, she said. They regenerate, and regenerate again.
Isn’t that what it all comes down to? Regenerating and refocusing and retraining my mind? But the only way to do it is first to spill my guts. Dump out those lies. Take them all into captivity. And hand them off to God to lead captivity captive, that He might take their place in the hollowed-out space. Digging out the hideous and ugly untruths to make room for the beauty of His holiness.
So I do – spill my guts out. Surrender my insides. And invite the Spirit of God to fill it with His beauty. And let the walls of my mind reverberate with His truth. So that I can start to recognize myself again. Or rather, begin to recognize His beauty within me.