Guest Blog: Cherie Denna
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong in the life you’re living? When you're stuck in what appears to be an impossible situation, what strategies do you employ to find your way out? Have you wondered how to create and sustain healthy boundaries amidst the turmoil of a dysfunctional family? How can we unshackle ourselves from false belief systems or the burden of unforgiveness towards ourselves and others?
Emotional, physical, or spiritual influences often manifest themselves in these life scenarios. But we can equip ourselves with knowledge and wisdom to cultivate authenticity, establish and maintain healthy boundaries, and prioritize emotional intelligence in our lives.
Raised in a Sicilian mob family and outlaw biker gangs, I experienced a childhood infused with violence, murder, drugs, secrecy, the occult, and years of sexual abuse. My family conditioned me not to trust anyone outside of our family of outlaws, especially law enforcement. These teachings made me feel like an outcast in society.
Even though I escaped that life at seventeen, I struggled with the lasting effects of Complex PTSD and the multitude of issues tied to my ACE score of eight. My goal? To live a normal life.
After living the first part of my life on the fringes of society, I wore many masks and lived with a false façade to hide my past. I feared judgment and rejection, which resulted in striving for recognition and acceptance.
Only by the grace of God and His redeeming love did I find rescue and a fulfilling, peaceful life. Though I carry remnants of the trauma from my past in my physical and mental health, learned principles and disciplines help maintain the abundant life God has for me and for you.
“For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (TLV)
RECOGNIZE AND DISCARD IMPOSTERS
Imposters can invade our psychological, spiritual, and physical life. When we recognize and discard them, we experience a profound shift in our personal journey and the legacy we leave behind.
Thoughts that don't match our true beliefs, values, or feelings can deceive us like imposters.
You may struggle with creating a false narrative of incompetence or unworthiness despite evidence of your competence and achievement. Imposter Syndrome is a term commonly used to describe this phenomenon. Other ways our thoughts appear as imposters include negative self-talk, comparison to others, fear of judgment, internalized external expectations, and lack of self-awareness.
These lies contradict the truth about how God sees you and your worth. Furthermore, they derail us from the purpose and plan God has for our life.
What I believed about myself resulted in unhealthy coping skills. I sabotaged everything good in my life by wearing masks to hide my past. This only hindered the possibility of living a normal, peaceful life.
Recognizing psychological impostors involves cultivating self-awareness, practicing mindfulness, and regularly questioning whether our thoughts align with God’s word.
STEPS TO DISCARD PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPOSTERS
Accept responsibility and exercise control over your thoughts (2 Cor 10:5).
Cultivate self-compassion and treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend (Matt 22:39).
Allow God to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2).
Think about things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" (Phil 4:8).
As God empowers you to focus your mind on the right things, it will become easier to discard psychological imposters.
Our spiritual adversary, the devil, seeks every opportunity to influence our thoughts and life choices (1 Peter 5:8). Here are a few of the enemy’s most common strategies to take us out:
Quench your passion for prayer and other spiritual disciplines (Eph 6:10-20).
Attacks your identity, leading to self-doubt and self-sabotage (Eph 1:17-19).
Creates discord and disorder in your family, rendering you unfruitful (Gen 3:1-7).
Attacks your calling by creating anxiety, fear, or distraction (Josh 14:8).
Breaks open old wounds through unforgiveness and bitterness (Heb 12:15).
Encourages sinful behavior by fostering disobedience and dishonesty, etc. (Eph 2:2).
He causes division and disunity, tearing apart the bonds of fellowship and the sense of community among believers (1 Tim 2:8).
From as far back as I can remember, I lived in fear. Dysfunction defined my family life, with constant yelling, violence, and sexual abuse. My focus remained on how to avoid punishment or my stepfather’s sexual tendencies. God gave me resilience and rescued me.
At times, the enemy attempted to silence my voice through my vulnerable areas of brokenness. He desires to isolate me in a corner away from my prayer warriors. The enemy goes as far as taunting me with fear in my sleep because he knows all too well how familiar I am with the spirit of fear.
STEPS TO DISCARD SPIRITUAL IMPOSTERS
Put on the full armor of God as written in Ephesians 6:11-18. This includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Pray warfare prayers to rebuke the devil's influence and express your reliance on God's power.
Meditate on relevant scripture verses that address resisting the devil and standing firm in faith.
Engage in repentance by confessing and renouncing sin. One must avoid sinful behavior and align with God's will to resist the devil.
Spiritual warfare is a real and serious business in the Christian life. The closer we reach a spiritual breakthrough, the harder the enemy comes at us. Stand your ground and shame the devil. The victory is ours in Christ.
The most important revelation of my life was finally perceiving the world through a spiritual lens. This included my dating life, my circle of friends, engaging with strangers, and choosing the right employer. Those are just a few examples.
I had a habit of picking men who were no good for me. After years of heartbreak and disappointment, I learned that my false beliefs about myself had to change. One night, I cried out to God and asked Him to help keep me from sacrificing myself in the quest for love and belonging. His merciful arms met me in my darkest hour.
Physical imposters manipulate our feelings and exploit our vulnerabilities. The ways these imposters lead us astray include:
Gaslighting tactics are used to make you question your sanity.
Create a façade of camaraderie to present themselves as confidants.
Play victim to elicit sympathy and support to divert attention from their deceptive actions.
Create an illusion of intimacy by appearing vulnerable to elicit trust and a sense of closeness, making it easier for them to manipulate emotions.
STEPS TO DISCARD PHYSICAL IMPOSTERS
Cultivate authentic connections through open communication and shared values. Pay attention to consistency between a person’s words and actions.
Set and enforce boundaries to help protect yourself from manipulative people. Respond to red flags, such as deceit or manipulation.
Develop discernment to know what is of God and what is not.
Creating a circle of authentic relationships involves being intentional about the people you surround yourself with. By prioritizing genuine connections, setting and maintaining boundaries, and honing your ability to discern authenticity, you can minimize the presence of impostors in your life.
Check out my new book coming in February 2024!
With candor and courage, you’ll be encouraged to understand with Cherie:
How to truly fulfill the longing for belonging.
How to break free from generational dysfunction.
How God uses the seemingly unforgivable to demonstrate His mercy.
How devotion to the Lord dramatically changes life’s trajectory.
Beloved Outcast takes us on a journey from the thunderous roar of the biker clubs to the whisper embrace of Christ.
CHERIE DENNA is a speaker, author, and blogger who is familiar with the aftereffects of childhood trauma and Complex PTSD. She is trained in relapse prevention/recovery and prayer counseling.
Join Cherie and me on Dec 19th at 6:30 pm on the Beacon of Light Podcast.