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Reprogramming Your Personal Computer

You’re alone. Tired. In a deep sleep. Suddenly, you’re sitting bolt upright in bed! Shhhhh … listen! What was that! That noise! Something woke me up… what was it? Did I lock the back door? Is there someone in the house? Where did I put that revolver? And your heart is thumping so loudly that you can’t hear anything but thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump….

Now, if you believe there’s a burglar in the house, you’ll feel like there’s a burglar in the house — muscles tensed, alert to the slightest sound, eyes wide and focused on the darkness, pulse rate climbing, and all the while trying to remember where the flashlight is! That isn’t difficult for us to understand.

In the same way, if you believe you’re a loser — and it is a choice — you’ll feel like a loser: You’ll hesitate to go to the party; you’ll sit by yourself in church; you’ll consider yourself worthless as an employee; you’ll doubt that your husband or children love you; you’ll hate to shop and spend money on yourself; you’ll constantly degrade yourself and your performance; you’ll be unable to receive gifts or help from friends when you’re flat on your back; and on it goes. The theme of your thought life will be: Why should anyone care for me? I’m such a loser.

Let’s say a spider comes to visit you while you’re in bed some night. He can crawl around on your pillow, creep across the sheets, and even tunnel through your hair, yet you won’t be aware of that forward visitor. But let his little hairy legs touch your face, and you’ll be "aware" of him all right! Within a second after he touches your cheek and you perceive him, your brain processes the input, your mind concludes that something hairy and little touched my face, your emotions rocket to the top, and your will chooses to act! That’s when the arms flail, the covers fly, you hit the light switch, and the hunt is on!

Now, after you’ve sent the spider to spider heaven (?), your mind realizes that the threat is over and it instantly relaxes. You know the culprit has been taken care of, right? (You picked it up in a tissue, twisted it real good, threw it in the toilet, and watched to be sure it flushed!) But how about your emotions? On a scale of one to ten, they’ve been hitting an 11! And even after you know the spider is no more, your emotions dilly-dally around on level ten for 15 minutes, gradually come down to eight, and then lodge on seven for an hour. You may not get back to sleep for another 45 minutes, and that’s in spite of your knowing everything is okay!

Let me ask you a question: What if you live with a spider? What if you grew up with a spider? Your mother, maybe, or your dad. What if every day the spider touches your cheek four, five, 20 times? Where will your emotions be? On an eight most of the time? And because of this, they will probably get stuck in the upper part of the scale because they are there so much, if not all, of the time. You won’t even know what it’s like to be at a five on your emotional scale, much less at one! And you will say things like: "I cry easily," "I have a short fuse," "I don’t handle emotional things very well." Or you may have put your emotions in a locked box that no one is ever allowed to open.

Your emotions may be at ten; they’ve always been high, and for that reason, whenever some small, emotionally stressful situation comes along, you don’t have the flexibility on your emotional scale to tolerate it. You break. Now what do you suppose patterns like this will bring about in a marriage relationship? Or in any close relationship — roommates, teacher/pupil, mother/daughter, father/son, boss/employee, co-workers, friends?

So what are your patterns? What do you believe about yourself? Where are your emotions?

Whatever or wherever they are, don’t blame your parents. They were children, too, complete with formative years. They, too, learned about themselves from the people around them, and they are who they are today because of–or in spite of–their early home environment and what happened to them in their own private world. All they asked was to be loved — just like you, just like me.

The real question isn’t what did other people do to you, but rather, how did you respond? What patterns, what walls did you build?

We build walls and live behind them. Walls of self-protection: "I refuse to be hurt again." Walls of deception: "No one will ever know. No one cares. Why share my hurt?" Walls of guilt: "Oh! If only I could have that one hour to live over again!" Walls of behavior: "I’ll get my way! They’ll be sorry." Emotional walls: "I cannot say, ‘I love you.’"

These are the patterns we erect in our private world, unique because of our environment and the circumstances that have come into our lives.

The foundation for my carefully constructed walls was performance-based acceptance. Many of you, I’m sure, are members of POA, Inc. (Performers of America.) It permeates our culture. You can build varying patterns on the foundation of performance-based acceptance, and yours may be entirely different from mine. I was controlled by perfectionism, extreme sensitivity, thoughts of inferiority, and constant introspection. I was always evaluating my performance, and because I believed I was inferior, because I felt inferior, my evaluation was always charted on the negative end of the graph.

When I married a man who did not accept me (my performance wasn’t paying off) and would not praise me (praise is the "lifeblood" of a performer), I developed some new patterns: depression, mood swings, tears, pouting, self-hatred, and suicidal tendencies. What a mess!

And this is now me, this is just the way I am, right? Meet Anabel Gillham. These are the habit patterns, complete with correlating emotions that have been deeply ingrained into me. This is who I am today, and this is who I will be until the day I die. I have to live with it, and you have to put up with it (sigh).

Now wait just a minute! That’s not true! According to the Scriptures, that old Anabel died in Christ (Gal. 2:20), and I was reborn "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). I became someone new when I was born again (2 Cor. 5:17), and the life of Christ became my life (Col. 3:4). Furthermore, I was transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light (Eph. 5:8; Col. 1:13). I’m different! I’m new! And as this new creation in Christ, these old patterns of how I think, how I act, and how I feel that I have walked in for years are no longer me!

These old patterns are habits, and habits don’t vanish overnight. Though you are new, you may still choose (with your free will) to allow those old habit patterns to control you. These patterns are broken and reversed only by recognizing them for what they are, and then by reprogramming our computers on a moment-by-moment basis and over a good deal of time ("Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" [Rom. 12:2]).

Read carefully. My identity has changed, and those old patterns are now my old ways, my flesh. In computer language, they are "programs" in my computer (my brain) burned into my memory banks. And though they will continue to manifest themselves in my behavior and in my emotions, they do not determine my identity. Birth determines identity, and I have been reborn!

Well, back to the thump-thumping of the terrified heart. You suddenly realize, Oh, it’s just a dream! Thank goodness! Praise the Lord! Your hubby’s in the den, watching television; your daughter is nestled in her bedroom just next to yours; you have this great new security alarm system… everything is okay. You snuggle back down on your pillow, close your eyes, and thank the Lord that all is well. Truth will always defuse deception. I’m not saying your emotions are going to plummet downward… but I am saying that you’ve discovered the enemy.

In that very same way, when we KNOW who we are, when we’re confident of our identity, that TRUTH is going to set us free from the tyranny of our old ways. We will have discovered the enemy, and we can snuggle down on our pillow, close our eyes, and thank the Lord that all is well.

* This article is an excerpt from Anabel’s book, The Confident Woman.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.