You know, I honestly thought I knew myself really well. But I guess one thing I’m learning about myself is that I tend to avoid any thoughts that upset me. And because I do this, I don’t really know myself as well as I once supposed.
Yesterday I was reading through “The Worry Cure” and Dr. Leahy was talking about our personal beliefs about ourselves and how they color our view of the world. These personal views also affect our actions and a lot of time cause our worry and anxiety. I put the book down, grabbed my journal, and thought, “What do I think about myself really, deep down?” I’ll tell you guys, I was shocked by what I found.
These thoughts came to the surface: “I’m lazy”, “I’m not motivated”, “I’m not smart”, “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have any skills”, “I’m always fearful”, and “I’m selfish.”
I sat back and stared at these thoughts, completely nonplussed. I’d always thought I was confident and knew my own strengths and weaknesses. But most of these, except the fear, laziness, and selfishness, was completely new to me.
So, I began to pray. I already knew that these thoughts came from the enemy. I know they are lies. And the only way to combat lies is to speak and think truth. I continued to write in my journal whatever the Holy Spirit spoke to me about these evil thoughts, and this is what came out:
I have been lazy in the past. In fact, most of my life I just did what I felt like doing. I mostly sat around playing video games and watching television my entire teen and young adult life, until I got a job at the dance studio anyway. But this past year and a half since I’ve been married have been the least lazy, most productive times of my life. I work every day, whether on my freelance business, my novel, or my blog. I take care of my husband and our two cats. I make sure everyone is fed and the house is clean. I exercise four days a week. I’m reading nonfiction books and spending more time with the Lord to help me grow and mature. And, I read fictional books to help improve my writing. So, while I may once have been lazy, I am lazy no longer. I guess I just needed the push that getting married gave me.
Do you think you’re lazy? Consider why you think that way and if there is any truth to it. Are there more things you could be doing, or is it just a straight-up lie from the enemy? There are certainly a lot of lazy people, but remember that we all need downtime and breaks from work and stress. Taking a break, even if it is a day or a weekend, is healthy for our minds and bodies. Too much stress and we get sick or burned out.
“I’m not motivated”
This isn’t really a lie. I do have a really hard time with motivation. Right now the only thing that motivates me is fear. Fear of losing our home. Fear of going bankrupt. That’s why I work every day. That’s why my husband works every day. And while I understand that many people feel this way, it isn’t how I want to live. I’ve heard so many public speakers talk about how they love their lives, they love their careers, and they are passionate to get out of bed every day and do what they love. I don’t feel that way, but I really want to. Clearly, this is an area that I need the Holy Spirit’s help. Plenty of room to grow there.
What about you? Do you need more motivation in life, or are you excited to get up every morning? I know I don’t want to even get out of bed most days. Not from depression necessarily, but because I don’t feel much joy about where my life is right now. Of course, it’s also important to remember that as followers of Christ we aren’t supposed to get our joy from our circumstances or what we do or don’t have. Instead, our joy comes from the Lord.
“I’m not smart”
I know this is a lie. But it was one of the reasons I didn’t want to go to college. I never felt like I was smart enough for college, I guess because I hated school. I hated being forced to learn things about which I had no interest. To me, college should be about learning things you need for your career and chosen life path, not being “well rounded” and learning stuff you’re never going to use. But I digress. I know I’m smart, I just need to convince myself of it deep down. I did well in high school and the year I spent in college. In fact, I received all “A’s” in my college classes. I learn quickly and remember a lot more than I realize. And now that I’m not being forced to learn, I actually enjoy it.
Have you ever felt like you aren’t smart enough? I think we need to think about who we are comparing ourselves to. If we don’t think we’re smart, who do we think is smart? Albert Einstein? Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? What makes them smarter than us? Nothing. Maybe they understand math, or science, or computers better than we do. But that doesn’t make them smart. It makes them good in a specific area or a handful of areas. Maybe we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people and think about what we are good at. That leads me to my next thought.
“I’m not good enough”
I have no idea from where this thought stems. My parents always thought I was more than good enough. They praised everything I did, encouraged me in anything that interested me, and were always there for me. It doesn’t come from my husband either. He adores me and always says how smart I am, how blessed he is to have me, etc. So, why do I think I’m not good enough? Because I’m comparing myself to other people – people I think are more successful than myself. But does that make them better than me? No, it doesn’t. We are all equals, whether we make $20,000 a year or $1,000,000. Money doesn’t determine self-worth. My self-worth comes from the Lord. I know this, have always known it, but clearly, it hasn’t sunk deep inside me. So, my question then is this: who determines if I’m good enough? Me, that’s who. Each of us has to decide if we are going to be happy with the person God created us to be. That doesn’t mean we accept our sinful nature and the bad habits we need to break, but it does mean that we have to stop getting our self-worth from other people, from our bank account, from our jobs, even from ourselves. My worth comes from the Lord, and so does yours!
“I am not skilled”
I see people who are great with computers, business, finances, etc. and it makes me wonder if I have any worthwhile skills. Sometimes I feel like God just missed me when it came to gifts and skills that I can really use in life. But these are lies from the enemy too. God gave me creativity and a love for writing. Not everyone has that. In fact, most of the people I know hate to write. I mean, writing essays were my favorite part of college! I also have wisdom and common sense. Those are gifts from the Lord. And I learn quickly. Not everyone can pick things up rapidly. Some people have to study for years to grasp concepts I can learn in a week or less. Even foreign languages always came easily to me. When I took up ballroom dancing, I progressed faster than the other students. So clearly, I do have skills. I just need to recognize them and again, STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE. Sorry about yelling but I think we all do this way too often (comparing ourselves, not yelling) and it needs to stop if we want to keep our sanity and be happy in life.
“I’m always afraid”
This isn’t true, I’m not always afraid. But I am afraid way too often, I admit that. A lot of my worry and anxiety is caused by fear. What do I fear the most? The unknown. I don’t know what the future holds – none of us do. I can make plans, but I can’t be certain that my plans will come to pass. In fact, ever since my husband and I moved on faith, every single day is a trust exercise in the Lord. But when I read God’s Word, I do feel more relieved because pretty much everyone that God has called has also had to move completely by faith with no idea what would happen next. Still, this fear thing is a big issue for me and is one of the other things that the Holy Spirit and I need to work on.
What about you? What are you afraid of? By that I mean, what fears do you feel nearly every day or at least the most often?
I did grow up extremely selfish. Maybe it had something to do with being an only child, although I’m sure not all only children are selfish. And I realize that everyone has moments of selfishness. It is part of our sin nature. But I would throw sulking fits if I didn’t get my way, I ended friendships if they disagreed with me, and I avoided kids my own age because I felt like I was better than them (more intelligent, more mature, etc.). As a young adult, the Lord really began to work on my selfish behavior. The more people I was around, the more I realized how selfish I really was. Now that I’m married, I have to put my husband’s needs before my own. As I look back at my life, I realize that I have grown a lot over the years. Oh, I still struggle with selfishness, but I’m much better than I used to be. I thank God for that because it’s all His doing. But it’s another area I need help in every single day, and I think all of us do. We need to remember that we aren’t here for ourselves, to make money or make ourselves happy. We’re here to serve God, whatever He has assigned for us to do.
So, that was what my consciousness and the Holy Spirit revealed to me recently. I’m really glad that He did too because you can’t change what you don’t know. Now that I know where my mind has been, what has been hiding in my subconscious, I know what the Lord and I need to work on and change in my life.
What has God been revealing to you lately? Have you recently discovered something new about yourself, good or bad, that you never realized before? Please let me know in the comments because I’d love to hear from you!