Changing. It isn’t easy, is it? My friend and colleague, Nicole Unice, has some great insights to share about spiritual growth . . . and those pesky “issues” that continue to plague us! Nicole is a counselor, mom of 3, and the author of She’s Got Issues, a book that helps women find freedom from ordinary issues that keep them from loving well.
Nicole, welcome! Tell my readers about yourself.
Hey everyone! Like most of you, I have many different roles. In this season, I am a wife, a mom of three little ones, and a writer and ministry leader. Sometimes I get to travel and speak and I do crazy things like leaving my Danskos at home and ONLY packing high heels.
This month we’re discussing the idea of “changing” — and especially how God is at work in our lives, changing and growing us. What’s one specific area in your life in which you feel like God has been at work changing and growing you? Explain.
God has definitely been teaching me that my idea of “trusting him” and his idea are two different things. I think I like to trust God for short spurts of time, and then get upset when he doesn’t answer my prayers or provide for me on my timeline. As I’m learning, that’s not a very strong picture of actually trusting him!
You’ve got a new book out, She’s Got Issues, which really dives into the idea of honestly facing the struggles and issues that plague us. What are the main “issues” you think women struggle with? And why do you think they’re so common?
The main issues we talk about in the book are control, insecurity, comparisons, fear, anger, and unforgiveness. I think in our lives, we are plagued at different times with all of these issues. They are common because it’s the human condition — but that doesn’t mean we need to live in them like they are “normal.” Our life in Christ excused us from normal existence — he offers us so much more. It’s our job to get really honest and start living into the reality of how God can change us through these issues.
I think our normal instinct is to hide from, ignore, or lie to ourselves about our issues or problems — to pretend they aren’t there or tell ourselves we’re handling them just fine. But there’s power in an honest assessment of our shortcomings, isn’t there? Why do you think it’s important for a woman to honestly assess and face her own issues?
I think that without an honest assessment of our true selves, we cannot experience grace. And since grace is the absolute foundation of our faith, that’s a pretty strong statement I’m making! A true experience of grace comes in the glaring reality of who we really are. So step one is knowing who we really are — and step two is allowing God into that honest place.
Once someone has identified one (or a few) big issues in her sense of identity, thoughts, or behavior, what ought she do to begin to change?
Let’s say I know comparisons are a problem for me. If I’ve admitted that they are, I can then pay attention to the people and circumstances that trigger me to compare. I need to have a running dialogue with myself, almost like a coach. That “coach” voice in my head is paying attention for when I start to go down the comparison road, and I can then ask God to intervene right then.
Even after we face issues and grow through them with God and in his strength, we still deal with them (or others), don’t we? This sin and brokenness thing just doesn’t go away. What encouragement would you provide for somebody who is dealing with an “issue” that’s hung around in her life for years? What hope have you found in your own personal life when it comes to ongoing struggles and brokenness?
The best hope I have about ongoing struggles is that this life isn’t the end of the story. We truly don’t know what God is up to. I like to imagine that one day, God may reveal to me exactly what He was doing in my life. My only response will be “oh.” It will all make sense then. And I do believe that we can continue to struggle with something because it’s the way we are kept in deep relationship with God. When things are going great, I can often forget that I need God. Maybe, like Paul, we have a “thorn in the flesh” that “torments” us (2 Corinthians 12:7). For Paul, he knew it was to keep him from being prideful. If the great apostle Paul struggled with issues for his whole life, I think I’m OK with that too.