I wrote this just before the world went on “lock down.” (Even though in Nebraska, we’re not officially there.) But as I’ve reflected on these words from March 9th, I’m realizing how much I needed this reminder now, 6 weeks later, as the world sits on tilt a bit from Covid-19.
Journal Entry: March 9, 2020
I have this voice in my head all the time that says I’m just a fundamentally lazy person. Because I “stay at home,” but my house is a mess. Because I came home from leading worship Saturday night and Sunday morning and now I don’t want to get out of bed the rest of this gorgeous 70 degree day in March. Because I can’t put together a meal plan, or if I do, I don’t end up executing it. Because everything feels really difficult and overwhelming.
Kurt says we’re doing fine, but I feel like I’m failing. All the time. At everything.
I feel it all the time – this nagging shame that won’t let up. But I rarely let myself voice it, because I don’t want to get lost in its spiral. I wonder if God is withholding something because I’m not doing something He wants me to do – or not doing it well enough – or not being well enough. Like if I could just do better… if I could just be better…
But that’s the oldest lie in the book, isn’t it?
The fear – the lie – that God is withholding something good for whatever reason, and that we should somehow exercise our agency and seize that thing, because somehow we deserve it or need it. Except the twist of shame that leads to despair in me is that I can’t. I can’t exercise agency and seize it. Because I’m not good enough/strong enough/enough enough at all. So now, that thing that God’s withholding is dangling just out of reach, and I’m stuck trying to live my sad little life without it.
What a twisted lie. God’s not withholding anything, because I am HIS. Fully accepted and adored and lavished with every good thing I could truly ever need. The Garden of Eden lie was that God was a liar – that He can’t be trusted – that He’s holding something back. When the real truth is that He never breaks a covenant – that His Word is truth. Not His Word is true (and it is), but that His Word is TRUTH – the only actual definition of truth by which we could measure anything else.
The real truth is that God didn’t even withhold Himself – His Son – when there wasn’t much in humanity worth saving. And He gave it all because of His relentless pursuit of right-ness with us.
How else could an infinite, inconceivable being of truth and love and righteousness ever fully fulfill both sides of a covenantal agreement, except to become us and be with us and experience us in order to rescue us?
I mean, duh. This is the gospel I’ve staked my whole life on. But who am I to consider God to be so petty as to withhold, now, some thing because of my unworthiness? Like He suddenly switched character like one of my sociopathic, narcissistic abusers?
You didn’t, did you, God?
And You say I am accepted. This root of shame has got to go. This nagging self-doubt and self-deprecation has to go. We need to rebuild the foundation internally that God is for us. That He is on our side, working in and through us with miraculous precision and care and affection. That we are carriers of light – beacons of His character – and more than deserving of taking up time and space on this planet.
The world benefits nothing by us hiding our faces in shame. We wake in the morning. We thank God for a new day, and we set about the Father’s work. Even if that means taking a rest to heal a body fighting off disease, or to heal a mind fighting off dis-ease.
I want to settle in my conscience that I can be at rest knowing I’m truly doing my best with what I’ve got. There is no mythical standard of greatness I’m not achieving. No greater blessing that can come from striving more.
So how do we know where to lean in and press ourselves and where to allow ourselves grace to pull back? I guess that’s the dance that is relationship with You, God. Being sensitive to Your leading as we live from a place of rest and love and acceptance. We can’t err here, can we? We can’t go wrong tucked under Your wing…
Anyway… I needed this today. Maybe some of you did, too. Pastor Micah preached an amazing sermon yesterday on Lifegate’s Facebook page (or app or website) about “Better” that comes from a framework of “God is LOVE” rather than ceaseless striving for “better.” I can’t phrase things as well as he did, so if you need the encouragement, just go listen to it.
Loving you all. Praying your hanging in there through this crazy time. ❤
7 thoughts on “Preaching to Myself”
Thank you for sharing this. It’s nice to know I am not alone in the way I fell at times.
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You’re not the least bit alone. ❤ Hope you were encouraged. Shame is a liar. ❤
absolutely agree with you emily……
we are all there and it’s going to be alright soon….
Oh. My. Goodness! Emily, you’ve hit the nail on the head for me with this post! 😭 Striving and trying to be ‘ better’ are such lies, and yet, I find myself unable to REST in the truth of His love for me, His desire for me, HIS hopes and plans for ME. He IS good and He’s blessed me and my family more times than I can count, but I still have this nagging feeling that I’ll never be ‘good enough’ for Him and like I’ve disappointed Him so many times already, how could He possibly still love me AND forgive me?!
I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying (and you can find products in stores with this printed on it) ‘The Struggle is Real’..?? Well, in all honesty, I feel like I’ve been able to say that for far too long (I’m talking years) because I’ve been struggling through life, trying to live for far too long. And when you share that you spend [a lot of] time in bed, well sweetness, I do, too. And today is actually one of those days for me. Being on ‘lock down’ and in the process of moving, it’s all just a lot, no, too much for me (and I could really use some sessions with my counselor because of it all).
So, thank you. Thank you for sharing what’s on your heart, what God puts on your heart, all of it. Because even if you are writing a post from your bed (I don’t know if your are or do), you’re STILL reaching others – connecting, giving hope….and both of those are so important and so needed in these times.
Love you, Emily!
so well written Rena….i pray for strength and peace to flood you even as you read this….there’s nothing impossible with our God and if you can stretch out like the woman with the issue of Blood, you too will be healed instantaneously……you just need to believe that you were healed by the Stripes of Jesus….can you say that, and continue saying that until it sinks in? I was healed by the Stripes of Jesus……Amen.
Thanks for sharing what you did Emily. i pray for increase in your life that comes from Above. Be ready to receive it.