There are certain things which cannot be done without first undoing something else. For example, when my husband and I were in the process of purchasing our new home, the purchase was contingent upon the sale of our former home. Because we didn’t have the financial resources to float two mortgages or surrender an extra $30,000, we had to wait until the contract for our old home was signed by a new owner before we could finalize the contract for our new home. The same is true for people who choose to remarry. Before a new marriage can be recognized as legitimate, the old marriage must be annulled. You cannot honor two marriages, or two such binding agreements, at the same time.
As we enter into a new year and have more than likely set our minds to accomplish new things, I think it is important to examine the agreements we have made in the past year (or years, if you have never done so). It will not be possible for us to accomplish some of our dreams and goals if we are bound by a former agreement which prevents them from happening. And often, the process of making agreements is an unconscious one which happens by way of difficult and painful circumstances we encounter. Life happens, and we get hurt. But without even realizing it, in our hurt we begin to agree with thoughts, feelings and expectations which are NOT true, and which prevent us from trusting God and His plans for our lives.
I’ll give you a clear and recent example. This past week, I was sitting with Jesus and I saw Him standing on a lake, holding out His hand in an invitation for me to join Him. I was, of course, nice and safe and quite comfortable in a boat, which I wasn’t feeling ready to step out of. Being God as He is, and knowing the thoughts of my heart, He exposed my fear, uncertainty, and unwillingness to trust Him, but He did so in a most interesting and compassionate way (here is a good place to remind you that God is never out to shame you, but always aiming to heal you and draw you gently closer to His heart).
I saw what looked like a flipbook of photos from my life, and as they were being flipped through, all I could see were blurry images that left me feeling hesitant and disappointed. Then He paused, and drew out several pictures, one at a time. As He held each one, the picture became clear, and I remembered the captured moment. And with each memory came a sting of pain that dug deep into my heart with its messages of fear and distrust. Through conversation, Jesus showed me the lies that I had begun to believe with each one of those experiences – lies based on my wounded emotions. Ultimately, and unconsciously, I had learned in each of these moments, to lean on my own understanding rather than to trust God and His Word in all things.
In a picture of my daddy holding me as a baby, He showed me that, while my daddy’s love for me was often professed and felt, his protection was not. Repeated years of that reality became for me an expectation which transferred itself to other trusted men in my life. And because no human is perfect, with failures and mistakes (and sometimes with neglect), men I was supposed to be able to trust became – in my own wounded heart – men who reinforced the message that I was unprotected. Because I had made agreement with the lie that I was not protected and needed to protect myself, I learned to project a very believable image that I was strong and capable. So every male figure in authority that I have ever had relationship with has perceived me this way (as a strong woman), and left me pretty much to myself, thinking I was capable of handling things well enough on my own.
On the surface, this worked. I got things done, for myself and others. I grew in reputation as a mature and reliable woman. It seemed to be partnership at is finest. But beneath the surface, I was steadily growing more and more self-reliant, and the message that I was unprotected was steadily growing deeper and stronger.
The result of this was not greater confidence or unstoppable progress. Instead, the result was, as Jesus revealed, an uncertainty and an unwillingness to take His hand and step out of the boat and into the waters, so that He could lead me into what He’s planned for me next. The result was that I had learned to interpret life, and therefore God’s plans for my life, through my own lens, which has been disastrously colored by wounded emotions. Those interpretations, those agreements, have the very powerful potential of keeping me from trusting the Lord, and reaching my destiny. They have the ability, in fact, to detour me away from, rather than lead me into God’s promises.
As women wounded in and by relationships, it is a great temptation for us to believe and therefore live as though we do not need anyone. But this is a lie, and agreeing with it binds us in a place of fear, mistrust and isolation. In reality, God has called us to be weak enough to need His strength, and to need the strength of those around us, imperfect though it may be. By agreeing with the lie I was carrying, I had cut myself off from the strength of God and the men I am supposed to need. And I had unknowingly partnered with a subtle but real untruth which could have kept me from the very things I have set my heart to see this year, and in years to come. Something tells me the same may be true for you…
There were more pictures, more memories, and more agreements that needed to be cancelled in my recent conversation with Jesus. It was a painful time, but the pain was only His loving hand pulling the infected roots of bitterness, resentment, and wicked agreements out of my heart. The crazy part for me was that these were things I thought I had intentionally dealt with already! Nevertheless, the agreements were there, and undetected, until Jesus, in His wisdom and kindness, came near enough to put His finger on them. I can joyously report that, once each root was removed, I felt such relief, such comfort, such healing, and a new kind of strength – His strength. Strength to trust again, to hope again, to step out and into what He has next for me.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I suspect that the lid of expectation in your heart has been slammed shut more than once by the agreements you have unknowingly made with your pain, your shame, and your regret. These are now areas where the enemy of your soul has set up strongholds, places of imprisonment, to keep you from moving into the things you dream of, the things God has reserved for you.
Would you join me this week in stepping into the process of examining the agreements you’ve made, and letting God expose all that needs to be broken, so that new things can be effectively built? I want you to know that this is a process God is passionate and intentional about! More than you desire to be healed and set free from what’s holding you back, God desires for you to be healed and set free.
I also want you to know that this is a simple, though not easy process. If you will give God a little bit of time once a day or once a week (how quickly do you want release??) to deal with these agreements, He will lead you right on through. I’ve laid out a few simple steps at the end of this blog to help get you started. Let’s get busy about the business of breaking agreements with everything untrue, so that we can step into and live fully in the glorious light of the truth that liberates us!
Breaking Agreements Worksheet:
- Pray and ask God to show you anyone you need to forgive, and what you need to forgive him/her for. Write their name(s) down.
- Confess forgiveness, naming the offense(s). If possible, after you have worked through this process, confess your forgiveness to the person named, if it is safe to do so. If not, share it with a trusted and wise friend who can pray for release with you.
- Ask God to show you what you began to believe about the person(s) named, about God, about yourself, and about the world/life because of the offense, and write it down.
- Verbally break agreement with that lie (God, I break agreement with ________________.)
- Ask forgiveness for living in agreement with a lie, and for carrying judgments based on your emotions toward the other person/people, God, yourself, and the world.
- Ask God to tell you the truth, so you can begin to agree with that instead. Write it down, and keep it in a visible place so that you can be constantly reminded of your new reality.
- The next time you encounter a similar hurt, speak this truth over it and thus deny the enemy any attempt at building another stronghold in your heart.
The truth is, my dear sister, that this is a lifelong process. Living in a broken world means we will regularly have to examine our hearts, with God’s gracious help, and break agreements that have forged their way in. Why not adopt this as an annual process, like a spiritual house-cleaning, to help ensure that we will live our best lives ever.
May you have a great list of truths upon which to stand and build in 2018!
Together, we will arise!!