Purifying the Altar of the Heart

Unpacking Self-Reliance to Trust

By Debbie Renee Howard

It was nothing for me to spend at least 120 hours a week working in the marketplace. My extreme work ethic began with excuses such as, “I had to sharpen my craft, skills, and abilities in my related field within the healthcare industry.” There were very few women of color in my role. Then, it became the projects, and there were never enough hours in the day to accomplish them all. I certainly wasn’t spending as much time as I needed in prayer, meditation, reading, studying the scriptures, or even communicating with God consistently. There was so much Holy Spirit wanted to reveal to me, but my posture, position, and priorities wouldn’t allow Him to penetrate the altar of my heart.

I was seized by fear, panic, and exhaustion, trying to ensure that others perceived me as valuable. I was so focused on what I could do instead of what God wanted to do in and through me! You may ask, where does such a mindset originate? I wasn’t living the life of abundance, peace, and freedom, and I wasn’t experiencing God’s presence in the way I had read about in the scriptures. I knew in my heart that God hadn’t changed but that I had lost my way, and some unhealed areas were leaking from my heart. So, I began a retrospective journey back over my past experiences that created the unhealed wounds of my soul.

I reflected upon my childhood, in which there were some traumatic experiences. My parents divorced just before I reached that awkward adolescent stage of development. It was a critical time when I struggled with my body image, self-worth, and identity! I was a die-hard Daddy’s girl, and I was trying to explain why my Daddy wasn’t physically present in our home anymore? Why wasn’t he around to protect me? I can remember thinking it must have been something I’d done! I came to understand and learn that adults deal with situations that have little or nothing to do with the children that are a product of the relationship! Exploring and explaining such relational dynamics are other topics for a different blog article at another time!

Back to the subject at hand, at the tender age of 12, I was fondled inappropriately by an adult, adding to my trauma experience. My external defense manifested as weight gain and engaging relationships that weren’t healthy and not good for me! To be transparent, maintaining a healthy weight had been an ongoing area in my life that needed constant attention and discipline. Weight gain became my way of hiding in plain sight.

My family had labeled me the “quiet one” in contrast to my sister. The matter was I didn’t know how to share what had happened to me. I carried so much fear, shame, guilt, blame, and the burden of wondering: who would believe me? I was just a child; there were others I was trying to protect! In hindsight, I cannot comprehend the irony of such a selfless act that was simultaneously self-sabotaging. How did I possess the capacity to suppress what happened to me to protect others? I have realized and know that Abba’s Father had given me the strength to endure what was eating away at me internally.

During that time in my life, I also mastered isolation skills. It was a way to protect myself from hurt, disappointment, rejection, abandonment, and a whole barrage of internal buildup that I’d need to heal, address, and get FREE from in the decades ahead!

I took on quiet confidence and disposition of “I can do it on my own,” I didn’t care what “IT” was; I proudly wore my fake badge of honor! However, such a false form of armor became a problematic barrier as I began to grow and mature into a teenager, young adult, then adulthood!

In my teenage years, I spent time engaging in the self-discovery process. I’m sure you think that’s the same as most teenagers. However, I believe that the Father wants us to be secure in who we are in Him. I didn’t realize that until my young adult life.

One day I was tired of carrying the load, it was time to let it go, and I couldn’t do IT independently. I began to pour out my innermost thoughts in a very candid conversation with the Abba:

God, I’ve tried to carry the weight of the hurt, guilt, and shame because I did not trust you. I’m nothing without you; I need you in my life. I surrender my mind, will, emotions, thoughts, and all that I’ve tried to FIX on my own, and I give it all to you right now at this moment.

At that very moment, I felt such a release that I hadn’t experienced ever before. God had been waiting for me to STOP my self-reliance, strength, abilities, what I knew, and give Him the reigns of my life.

I began to meditate on the word to shift my mindset and posture to trust God with every part of my inner being and life: But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV; And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty. Phil 4:13 TPT

The following is a parallel example of how self-reliance can cause us to move away from Abbas original intent for our lives subtly:

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet, essayist, and philosopher. Emerson won fame as the leader of the transcendentalist movement. Ralph Emerson was invited by Boston’s Second Church to serve as pastor and was later ordained. Unfortunately, after only two years, Emerson’s wife died; this made him question his thoughts and beliefs. The man who once believed in biblical miracles decided to resign his pastorate. He firmly believed that the individual must have the courage to investigate his own heart for spiritual guidance and trust his intuition. Emerson’s views suggest that men can generate completely original insights and that the truth can be experienced directly from nature without any divine help.

Paragraph citation: https://www.goalcast.com/2018/07/30/ralph-waldo-emerson-quotes/

Reflect. What path Mr. Emerson’s life could have taken?

I’m not implying that self-reliance is a bad thing, but it can be a disguise for mistrust—idolatry. Perhaps your idol isn’t self-reliance; it could be the mindset of independence to the point where you aren’t able to trust our Father in every area of your life or with the wounds of your heart. Whatever your idol is, be honest enough to explore it, the root of its existence, and know that God is waiting to partner with you on your journey to healing and freedom.

“Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on Him, twenty-four hours a day.”

~Mother Teresa

Debbie Renee Howard is a woman of faith, an Executive Pastor, Speaker, Consultant, and Transformation Coach. She has an innate ability to empower, inspire, develop and equip men and women to identify areas in their lives that lack purpose, and need healing. She achieves this through God’s Wisdom and her unique gift of insightful communication which provokes clarity and introspection.

Contact Debbie: dezigned4greatness@gmail.com

18 thoughts on “Unpacking Self-Reliance to Trust”

    1. Lisa, thank you for reading and sharing your feedback! My purpose and passion is to share my story with others that they may experience FREEDOM , FAITH, and HOPE

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Debbie
    Your Faith in GOD, as well as your ability to connect with others in HIS name has always been your purpose, path and journey. I am very proud of you my friend! ❤️🥰🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jan, you have always seen my heart and I so appreciate you! Thank you for taking the time to read my first published literary work! I hope it was enlightening for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely a prolific eye opener of how we get in God’s way by being so self-reliant. Super Wow Job. Thank you for vulnerability and authentic voice of healing. Can’t wait to read some more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pastor Ieisha! Thank you for reading my article, sharing your feedback, and insights! Please share with those you think would benefit from my story. Yours In, Hope, Healing, Purpose & Prosperity


  3. Pastor Debbie, your article is a great read. I love the transparency, transformation, and the encouragement of your article. Self reliance can be an idol before God! Be blessed!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you Pastor Debbie for ‘sharing your real life journey of self-reliance. It opened my eyes to how this self-reliance can shroud itself in independence and confidence in one’s own abilities. Your article is a useful tool in transferring from self-reliance to confidence in God. Blessings Sis.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Min. Waynette, that you for taking time to read my blog, sharing your insights and feedback! I’m telling you the enemy is subtle and Abba Father is faithful! I’m thankful to know that it caused you to reflect which is one of my prayers for everyone who reads it. Blessings to you! 💜✨💜🙏🏾


  5. Wow! That was amazing!!! Thank you so very much for sharing. This I can so relate to, there are some areas I’ve experienced myself and therefore I can relate to your feelings and discovery. In this season of my life, Abba has lead me to find others who have some of the same experiences during childhood as I to help assist me in my own healing. I appreciate your honesty and transparency in your personal journey of healing. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Helen, thank you for taking the time to read my BLOG article and to share your feedback and insights. One way the enemy tries to deceive us and keep us divided is by thinking we’re the only one. I’m excited to hear that I was able to connect with my readers in this way. Yours In, Hope, Faith, Purpose & Prosperity 💜✨💜✨


    1. Thank you so much for sharing your feedback and for taking time to read my article. Yes, Yes, Yes I’m so grateful for the peace of G-d and the assurance and trust in Him! My prayer is that my words will penetrate hearts, ignite a journey of introspection and grab hold to Abba Father and trust Him with every area of their lives.


  6. Pastor Debbie this blog is amazing! 💜There are so many components of your story that I can also relate to (about 85% of your testimony)!

    Your transparency is healing to the broken hearted. God has a way of waking us up and getting our attention. What we fail to realize or acknowledge, is that none of us are really truly self reliant. It’s God who gives us breath, our senses, and the movement in our extremities that allows us to show up and perform everyday. Sometimes we are fortunate to independently catch this revelation before it is too late. Other times God shows us how much we need Him by brining us to this revelation.

    Looking forward to reading more of your material!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Johna Renee!!! Thank you for sharing such insightful feedback! I believe that our shared stories should bring healing, comfort and strength among other things. I’ve also come to realize that some of our experiences are more alike than different.

    Abba has such a kind, gentle yet firm way of ushering us to that place of surrender. I’m just thankful for being willing. I appreciate your subtle encouragement to keep writing ✍️ Blessings 🙏🏾✨💜✨


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