I did not call it envy.
I thought… I thought… Have you ever seen someone do something well? Something you want to do? Something that you feel like you should be doing? I thought I needed to be something else. I thought God was looking at my life and saying “Yeah, it would be better if you were different.” I would often I think thoughts like, “They’re awesome. I’m surviving.” “They hear from God. I’m just not sure.” “I know I’m called to this life but I am failing in the areas I care about the most”.
“I falling short of the glory…”
The glory of whom?
That is the question.
The moment I compare my life to someone else and then make a judgment about where I stand I remove my ability to live, thrive in living. I cannot live compared to anyone. I cannot live under the judgment I make about the success or failure of my life. I cannot.
Ironic as this seems. Embracing this truth is really freeing.
For a couple of years washing afternoon dishes/cleaning the kitchen was a simply torturous time. Not because of the dishes but because it was quiet. Naps were under way the older kids were quietly resting and I could think, and think and think and think. Unfortunately they were awful thoughts about myself. They accused and tore down and were so close to true I was ashamed of the picture they painted in the mirror. At times I wanted to curl up and quit. I had yelled at the kids (or Keith). The house was a mess. I never cleaned enough or well enough and I always wasted time.
“I should do better. I could do better. I was being lazy…think of the Pioneer women…think of…”
On and on it would go. My major strategy was to ignore. Some of thoughts were so ridiculous that my rational was – why bother even acknowledging them. The problem is that they sat in the room, bulging out at odd corners like unwanted fat rolls. (The thoughts accused the fat rolls too). I didn’t know what to do so ignoring was my best strategy. That is why they sat silent and accusing. Ignoring wasn’t helping. Mental defenses, reasoning, anger and arguing were not effective either. That seemed only to feed the lie. I prayed. I repented. I begged God to deliver me. Yet the thoughts remained.
Why? I believed one very important lie.
I believed I was failing. I believed I was inadequate and lost. I believed that what they said was true and “they” were just not being nice about it. I believed that God agreed. He knew every failure. I believed that deep down God thought I should do better and I could do better. Of course He was much kinder than the lies. He would say it in a nice way. But in the end we all agreed “If only you were different, you would be better.” Life would be better. Do you see the lie? It was so close to the truth that I thought it was truth.
That is how the lies lived.
No matter how much I mentally defended or reasoned or rebuked, at the end of the day I wrapped up in an “I could have- I should have- if only I would have” blanket and said goodnight.
Take Every Thought Captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)
I have been frustrated with the teachings on “Renewing the Mind” and “Take Every Thought Captive” for many years. I have been frustrated because they have not made sense to me. I have been desperate to understand and yet, somehow I have been stuck, largely ineffectively, at the “Take the thought captive” part. What does that MEAN!!!???
For me, when I am feeling accused and inadequate and “Falling short of the glory…” the last thing I want is to grab ahold of that accusing voice and carry it around as my captive or hang it like a trophy on my wall. I want it gone and I don’t want to see it again. Ever. So I weakly take this thought, captive and hold on to it. Kind of like a squeamish kid with a fish “What do I do with this?! What do I do with this!? Yuck! it’s going to get me!” And the fish flip-flops on the ground and I scream because I am now being held captive by my captive…in the end I am not really free or victorious.
Step two: “Take the thought to Jesus?” …Uh, ok…I still have to deal with that wiggly fish that, “I can’t even bring to Jesus without freaking out” (another accusation btw)… But here we go anyway: “Jesus here is xyz, I know at least “y” is a problem so I’m really sorry about that…change me and make these voices go away and heal my heart. Amen.”
Still feel like crap. Still have no idea what to do with the fish. At the center of it all flops, The Lie. I am a failure.
Something shifted when I the revelation came that every time I compared and judged myself I was really believing that God wanted me to be like someone else. Thriving begins with living only the life God has for me.
It does nothing to take a thought captive if you do not have the Truth replace the lie. If you don’t know the fish is for your food and that it has no way to harm you – fear will hold you captive. It is God’s Truth about you that gives the root of the lies no room to enter nor place to speak.
I could repeat fifty times a day that I’m a great mom, I have a great life, etc. etc. and wish the inadequate feeling goes away. It doesn’t work. It is not what I need to hear.
My prayer became:
“God, you have an amazing life for me. It does not have to be understood or liked by anyone else for it to be the life you have for me. This thing over here- I see where it could be true (or don’t see a bit of truth). What are you saying about me and this part of my life? That is what I am going to believe.”
That second sentence is a great one for me. It totally destroys one of the core lies I have believed. I believed I needed someone or something affirming my life in order to thrive. I have been very comfortable relying on both verbal and by my own internal comparison and judgment as an adequate measure of my life. With this prayer I am training my soul to look a different way. I am telling that part of my thought process that has been very comfortable relying on those sources for affirmation: “Stay focused, look ahead- What’s God saying?”
Have you ever watched a kid on a balance beam? They are doing so well and you shout out “Great job!” They turn smile at you …and fall. Why? They needed to be focused on one thing. And you (the excited distraction) were not it. There is a way to receive affirmation, correction and insult without falling off the beam. You have to focus on something else.
That is my goal. That is the soul training I am underway in. Part of me wants to be able to make the crowd be silent and let me learn the ropes in peace but in the end…I need the crowd. I need to build focus that is able to sustain the pressures of the cheers and jeers and coaching.
It is exciting. I have hope. I have hope because I am sure in a way I have not been before that my Papa is proud of me. We are going to thrive.
So keep your eyes straight ahead. He is full of hope for you. You can let go of the voices and the comforts of the past. Look into His eyes. They are full of love. They are full of hope. They are full of dreams for you. Journey on.