I posted a link to a guide of 20 Things to Give Up for Lent written by a Lutheran pastor (Phil) on my Facebook page this week, and it seems to have struck a chord with quite a few of my friends. It is, of course, one in a large group of pre-Lenten posts about how we might best fast. I found his reflection's unique angle to be different from the rest and deeply convicting for me in my spiritual journey (not to discount the other lists in the slightest). I encourage you to read his thoughts on habits we should give up for Lent (and beyond) - things like gossip, fear, guilt, feeling of unworthiness, self-pity, worry...any of this sounding like something you need to let go of, or is it just me? Really - read it.
So convicting was his reflection combined with a new devotional I have been reading (Renee Swope's A Confident Heart), that I caught myself mid-thought the other day realizing how much I berate myself in my head. While I am the first to admit I am not perfect, that I make mistakes, in my head the conversation sounds much different. It sounds more like, "I am such an idiot," or "no wonder I'm such a failure."
Those are not holy whispers. Those are the words of the devil. Black and white, plain and simple, they are not of God. When I say those things, what I really mean is "man, I made a mistake!" or "I have to be more careful if I want to improve," but that neither makes me an idiot or a failure. I am a daughter of God, a co-heir with Christ, fearfully and wonderfully made. Why is it so easy to forget that...or fear it?
The same holds true with my children. I would never call my son or daughter an idiot or a failure, though they make mistakes pretty regularly. While I might secretly think those things about a stranger, I would also never verbalize them because somehow I know that is not acceptable, not even in my head and definitely not out loud. Somehow those same standards do not translate to self-talk. We are, after all, our own worst critics.
While I was having that conversation in my head, I made a resolution. I know that the whispers will return - it is how the devil tries to bury me. I know this. So, when they come, I need to look deeper. When I say to myself "I'm such an idiot," what am I really saying? Did I make a mistake? Did I not know something I should? Did I forget to do something? Those actions can be rectified and are not nearly as damaging as branding myself with negative monikers.
If you find yourself having a similar struggle, perhaps you will join me in this challenge. Let's take these 40 days ahead to create new habits and find a new voice. FAST from negative self-talk. When the moment hits you, PRAY that God's truth about you will fill your heart, mind and spirit. GIVE yourself permission to make mistakes as someone fearfully and wonderfully made. GIVE others permission to do the same.
Here's to knocking the devil off his perch and remembering the truth of the whole of God's Word and His promises. May God's truth about who we are, who He created us to be, resound deeply in your soul, and in mine, always.
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