Tag Archives: self image

When one thing is wrong it means nothing is right

f grade questionI have never thought of myself as a perfectionist. I don’t think I am one to try to make everything the absolute best or nothing at all. I mostly think that we do our best and then move forward with what we’ve been able to do – hopefully giving our best as we go. And yet, I have come to realize something a bit disturbing about myself. I’m not sure how to label this (like everything must have a label, right?), but it’s definitely a thing.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know this is often my confessional. It’s a place where I am not afraid to explore my faults and failures – which is good because it gives me lots of raw material to work with! And that little clause right there is indicative or symptomatic of my problem. I see my faults and failures, at times, far too easily. And, I see my faults and failures more than any successes. And that’s a bit troubling to recognize.

So, am I a pessimist? A defeatist? An Eeyore?

Life is full of tasks and events and hopes and plans. Many times, if I look back at my day, there have been many things that went well. If I were to list all the things I did in one day or one week I bet I would be batting over .500 in terms of things that went off without a hitch or went well. My struggle is that I see the other side more than those successes. One thing can go wrong, one thing can be falling apart, and then in my mind, nothing is right.

I quite often view the whole of my life through the lens of my failures. Oh, I can put on a happy face and I can still do things that are good and successful, but I am mostly surprised by those things when I get into this place in my head. When one thing goes wrong, in my head it feels like nothing is right. And that’s not a good place to be.

So, why do I tell you this? Well, part of me just needs to say it “out loud” (yes, writing it in a blog post counts). Part of me also wants to work through – out loud – the other side of this. I use these posts to remind me of what is true as opposed to what I feel. And, with that, I hope others who feel similarly might also benefit.

So what is the truth? The truth is that life will have moments of good and bad, failure and success. The truth is you can’t count on your success to save your life and you don’t have to let your failures doom you to a dismal life. The “truth” that comes to my mind is in John’s gospel:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)

Now, in fairness to the Apostle John, he is quoting Jesus as Jesus talks about real and significant persecution in the world. The kind many Christians in other countries face on a daily basis. But one thing I have learned about the Word of God is that God will declare a truth in one context which applies in others. So, while my trouble may be in my head, while my trouble may be my own faults, failures and inadequacies, the truth still holds – Jesus has the power to overcome that trouble.

The key for me is to remember that my identity is in Christ, not in what I accomplish or in what I fail to do well. I am neither a success nor a failure, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My peace cannot be found in what I do well, and my anxiety is unnecessary in where I fail. I am close friends with the Lord of all a pluscreation, brother to the King of kings. That is not only enough, that is tremendous.

Bottom line – it means that everything is right even if it all goes wrong. That turns my world upside-down. And for that reminder I am thankful.

Hope that helps you in your daily walk through the world this week.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

The problem of ME

I am not always fond of who I am.

That’s probably a more universal feeling among the followers of Jesus than I let myself believe. As I interact with others in various places – in person at church or in our leadership team, online with Facebook and Twitter – I am sometimes uncomfortable with the person others are seeing. I look at the tweets and posts of others, I hear their kindness and appreciation of others,  and I realize the voice I hear in my head as I talk is not always like that. I perceive a great confidence and self-assurance in the words of others but in my own I see arrogance and self-righteousness.

I wish I saw and heard those things before I spoke or tweeted or texted or whatever I’m doing to put my words out into the universe. I’m sure others wish I did also. (The real dilemma is that sometimes I do, which means my thoughts are even more prone to those problems than others would realize!)

This is the problem of ME. My sin is ever before me. And the enemy continues to point out the me I don’t like. The enemy speaks a word of doubt and insecurity into my ear – and I listen. “Others are better at this than you” … “If you were a better follower of Jesus you’d get things right more often than you do” … “Look at what others say or don’t say, then look at your own words, can’t you see how lame/arrogant/dismissive you sound?”

And then I talk to Jesus. He tells me the enemy is somewhat right in his evaluation of me – based on who I am. But, the enemy is dead wrong about me based on who HE (Jesus) is. “You are a sinner,” Jesus says, “but I have saved you from those sins. You are in need of sanctification (holy change), but that’s why I offer the Holy Spirit to you. You are weak in many areas, but in your weakness you can find my strength. Be at peace, live boldly with me in the Kingdom. You’ll get it wrong, and maybe even a lot, but don’t forget to look at yourself like I do. You’re not a problem, by grace through your faith you’re my brother – a co-heir in the Kingdom of our Father. That is the GLORY of you.”

I am always so glad to spend time talking to Jesus. I may not be the person I hope to be, but I am more than I used to be. I may not be worthy of the Kingdom, but I’ve been given the Kingdom even still.

If you find yourself struggling with who you are, remember, God has no issue with you except that you know and love and follow Jesus. God is okay with who you are and God offers to you the power of His Holy Spirit to transform you more and more into the likeness of the perfect one – Jesus Christ. You may not like who you are at times, but God sees you with different eyes.

And for that I say, Thanks be to God.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

I Am What I Choose

There is a part of me that wants to ground my daughter if she ever does it again. It’s happened numerous times before and the end result is that it negatively impacts my life and so it seems to me that the proper and just thing to do is to ground her, to punish her if she ever does it again.

Those who know my daughter will wonder what it is that could set me off. They will scratch their heads and think, “I can’t imagine she would do anything deserving such a consequence.” But she has. And I believe she will again.

The crime – she makes the most delicious brownies I have ever had. I LOVE those just slightly undercooked, gooey, tasty, chocolaty treats. And now, because of those brownies, some items of clothing no longer fit. Seeing myself on the videos of my sermons reinforced the reality of the problem. She should be grounded for doing such things to the father who loves her!

Seriously, the brownies are a struggle for me. Even now – at 7 in the morning – they call my name. I desire their goodness. I long to take a bite and savor their sweetness. I hate that about me. I hate the way I long for something that creates a difficulty for me in life. And, at times, I dislike myself because I can’t shake that desire.

And there’s the catch. Often times I define myself but what I desire. Instead of healthy foods I want the fried stuff – why can’t I let that go? Instead of looking at our church and seeing the change in people’s lives I tend to focus on the level of giving and the number of people in worship (I have a desire to be seen as successful and effective) – why am I that way?

Truth is, we are not defined by our desires. We are defined by our choices. To have a tendency toward that which is not good or helpful is our human condition, but who we are is not defined by what we desire – who we are is defined by what we choose.

If I choose to eat healthy, I am fit and energetic. If I choose to eat what I most often desire, I am fat and complacent. If I choose to look at how God is at work in the lives of people, I find joy in their growth. If I choose to look at numbers in worship and dollars in the offering plate, I find either anxiety or nothing more than a moment of fleeting joy (for the bills will be paid, a new offering needed, and Sunday will come again in 7 days or less).

I have come to realize – I am what I choose.

Do you define yourself by your desires? Do you think you are only what you are attracted to? It’s not true. It is not your desire that defines you, it is your choices. Who will you be? What choice will you make?

Holy high-five to you, Mike

Finding God in Computer Problems

I’ve been struggling lately because my computer went down – I mean the power just quit. Don’t know yet what the problem is, but had to go ahead and get a new laptop to continue doing my work. I have some backups in place, but in one place I don’t have all my files – like email addresses and website log-ins, etc. In another place I might have those but can’t get access to it on my new computer – Vista!!!

As I have been grousing and grumbling about all this I am struck by the Scripture that I say I live in – Romans 8:28 –

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

As I read it again I have to concede that in this process God is working for my good – doesn’t say He might, it says he does. However, the unmentioned issue is that just because God is working doesn’t mean the work is comfortable, enjoyable, or easy for those God is working for and working with (just ask Jesus as we look ahead to Good Friday).

Part of me even wonders if God is allowing this to happen because I have not been the perfect picture of a proper follower of Jesus. But, as I think about that God seems to be nudging me – “Mike, why could I not just be using this situation to make you stronger because I want you to be stronger?” And I guess He could be doing just that.

Notice the difference that one perspective makes over the other. In my first thought I found myself loaded down by the guilt of not being the “good” person I should be and so God has to discipline me and pound on me like a blacksmith on an anvil fixing a mistake. In the second viewpoint I become raw material God longs to make into something much more useful – like clay on the potter’s wheel.

How often do we see ourselves in light of our shortcomings and lack of faith? Could it be that God sees us differently than we see ourselves? Could it be that God looks at us through eyes of grace and with an attitude of great hope for the potential He sees in us? And if that last answer is “yes”, how differently should we see ourselves?

The LORD your God is with you, 
       the Mighty Warrior who saves. 
       He will take great delight in you; 
       in his love he will no longer rebuke you, 
       but will rejoice over you with singing.”    (Zephaniah 3:17)

So, my computer problem may just be a reminder that God takes delight in me – who knew?

Likewise, could it be God is allowing you to work through a struggle in order to strengthen you for the journey ahead of you? If so, it’s because he sees in you great potential for helping Him redeem the world. That’s something to hang your hat on.

 

Holy high five to you, Mike.