Intentions, Actions, and Motivations

Today I’m considering the connections that these three nouns have to one another. Specifically in the context of the struggles I have had with my desire to be considered significant in the eyes of men, not as in humanity but as in the male species. As far back as my teen years I sought attention from men (boys in the beginning :)) for significance. Since my body and looks seemed to do the trick, I did everything I could to maximize these qualities in myself. About 4 years ago, a year or so into my recovery process (my name is Sabrena and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with codependency and food addiction) and the very beginning of the healing process in my 20+ years in a highly dysfunctional marriage, I started to contemplate the futility and destructive properties of my belief system that told me men could fulfill my God given need for significance. How were my ACTIONS affecting my marriage? Basically all of my actions were about me; about what I could get from men to feel good about me. Where did God fit into the picture? I couldn’t receive my significance from Him if I believed it should come from men. My INTENTIONS began to change, which in turn produced change in my actions. I decided flirting with men and seeking attention from them created damage in my marriage, even if I didn’t do anything that was considered really wrong like having inappropriate conversations or an affair. I always felt above reproach because at least I didn’t go that far. But I realized that far was closer every step that I took towards it and every step I took towards it took me further away from my husband. Intentions and actions turned out to be the easy (rather easier) elements to evaluate, see clearly, and change. The more difficult part has been in analyzing my MOTIVATIONS which are so closely tied to my feelings. Although my intentions and actions are much healthier, I spend most of my time now examining my motivations with every single thought, desire, or action I take. Have I simply shifted my need to receive significance to other activities like serving, speaking, teaching, or being the friend or sponsor someone needs? And although I no longer flirt and work on my looks for the attention of men (besides my husband!), do I still wonder if they think I’m attractive or a great person even if I’m no longer trying to receive significance from them? Sometimes the answer to these questions is yes, sometimes no, and sometimes both. However, the scale has slowly shifted more and more towards the no side. Whenever the answer is yes, I challenge my unhealthy motivations, pray for God to take them from me, do some reading on codependency, talk it out with my accountability team, read Gods Word which has the ultimate power to transform my mind, and work on growing my relationship with Him believing that He is the only one who can fully satisfy my need for significance. The important part is not that I condemn myself, thinking that my guilt and shame have power to change me, because they don’t, they only have power to keep me stuck. I recognize that my feelings play a role and are not unimportant, needing to be ignored. My feelings tell me something about myself, measuring how far I am from God’s truths and what in me needs work and growth. Changing my intentions and actions don’t change me, they only change what I do. Changing the outside doesn’t change the inside (Matthew 23:25). If I have an area to truly feel guilt about I confess it and receive God’s forgiveness, then rejoice that He has taught me something. I grow. That’s the important part; it’s the only part that matters. God’s plan isn’t for me to be perfect or he wouldn’t have sent His son to die for my sins. His plan is for me to be in the process of sanctification, which just means the process of His work to change me a little at a time to becoming more like Christ. The process hasn’t been easy, but so exciting because I can see it so clearly. God. Is. Good.