Ever have one of those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days? I had one of those days last Monday. And OH BOY was it a doozy. Not because of any catastrophic events—no trials or tribulations. Just…well…my pride got stepped on in a big way and I was flattened by the avalanche of emotions.
I am coming to believe that every issue we face as humans—big and little—is an opportunity to draw near to Jesus or to push Him away. I don’t think there is an in-between. We either choose to turn to Him and say “Your will be done,” or we handle life in our own way. We either learn and grow or push the Spirit aside and say “I don’t need you.” Our hearts soften or they develop callouses.
This year I’ve decided to join Curves fitness program—the workouts, the diet plan, the coaching, the whole tutti-fruity. I’ve been with the program for a month and, surprisingly, I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve seen success. (Hurray!)
So, Monday morning pitched up. I stepped on the scale first thing with great anticipation…but it hadn’t moved. (Eeep!) Now, I know my worth is not calculated by a number on a scale, but I felt I had followed the plan fairly well that week and I should be rewarded with downwardly mobile numbers! All right, yes, there were a few slips and misses, but surely they weren’t THAT bad. By the time I walked into Curves for my 9am coaching appointment, I had convinced myself it wasn’t that big of a deal. After all, what’s one off week? So what if I hadn’t lost anything, at least I hadn’t gained! It was just a plateau. Nothing to worry about.
Then I weighed in with my coach. In fact, I’d actually GAINED a pound and a half. WHAT!? I was devastated. I sat down with my coach and all the rationalizations that I’d told myself evaporated.
“What happened this week?” She asked.
“I don’t know!” I moaned. “I was pretty good. I followed the plan and everything!” I slid my journal across the table to her. She looked at it for a moment.
“I see here you had chips and salsa with your burrito.”
“Yes…but only a few.”
“You had a brownie on Saturday and you missed a workout.”
“Yes….but only one brownie. And no icecream! And I had a very good excuse for missing my workout.”
“You had extra cereal on this day.”
And the discussion went on from there. All the extras had added up and I was seeing the results of a week of NOT following the plan as carefully as I’d thought. By the time she was done, I was almost in tears. My hurt pride kicked in and my inner conversation flip-flopped between: “I am so stupid. How could I have ever thought this would work?!” To “Who does she think she is pointing out all my faults? What about all the GOOD things I’ve accomplished?”
Leaving my appointment later, I could feel the heavy, black thundercloud hovering over my head. I was angry and discouraged. The day didn’t get any better after that—my bad mood colored everything. Late afternoon, I sat down feeling overwhelmed and I wept. Then I heard a whisper through my tears of humiliation: “Throw up on paper.”
Let me back up a little. In my ladies Bible study, we are studying the book Hinds Feet on High Places (a wonderful book and a topic for another post). Last week we talked about renewing our minds and how that happens practically. Satan loves to whisper lies in our ears, lies our earthly self swallows up and regurgitates at every opportunity. Those lies cripple our thinking and paralyze our actions. My Bible study teacher talked about the necessity of dealing with those lies and holding them up to the light of truth. “Throw up on paper” she said—write the lies down, let the hurt and the anger and the frustration flow. Then, when the storm subsides, write down the truth. “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
I did. I drew a vertical line down the center of a piece of notebook paper. On the left I wrote the heading LIES. I wrote down every awful, self-degrading, self-pitying thought going through my head. The hurt and the humiliation came pouring out. I could hear the voice of Pride in my ear: “What an idiot you are. This is how you react to the truth about your failure? What a baby!” The voice of Self Pity chimed in “Poor poor you. Look at the pain you’re in—just quit the program. It’s not worth the pain; you’re not worth the effort.” I wrote it all down. Every stinking word.
Then, I took a deep breath. I dried my eyes and looked at the TRUTH column for a long moment. And a song from the radio came to mind.
“I am a child of the one true King.”
I began to write, and Scripture began flooding my mind with life-giving truth. I gulped it in as I wrote, and a peace “that passes all understanding” wrapped around me like a warm blanket and I felt comforted. The Holy Spirit was there.
Now, the hurt didn’t just go away—I still feel the occasional twinge—but the sting was numbed and the voices of Pride and Self-Pity were silenced. The hurt had a purpose and once the Holy Spirit helped me deal with the emotions—renewed my mind—I could understand more clearly that my coach was right. I had cheated on my plan and I paid the price. I couldn’t blame anyone but me.
I like wholeness in my life and oh how I see this principle at work. Every day I make a thousand choices—both in action and in thought. I have chosen to follow Christ and His example. And by His example, I am called to obey God’s Word. To be holy in all that I do and think. To submit my whole will to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to move me. It’s hard work, but it’s not impossible in His strength.
It is easier by far to say “the standard is too high, I won’t even try.” Or, worse, to lie and say, “Yes, I will obey” but allow myself little “cheats” in the way I think and act. Yet it’s the allowances we give ourselves—thinking no one will know or care—that trip us up in the end. We can’t let ourselves be lulled by the voice of our vices. What we do in this life matters. What we think matters. A Holy life is wholly given to the ONE Jesus who gave His life for mine and yours.
Oh friend, there is so much to learn and talk about on this topic of living WHOLE lives with renewed minds. But we’ll save that for another post. I hope you have a whole and joy-full week ahead of you! I’m off to get a little exercise.