hope spiritual

A Lecture to Myself (on the Topic of Bad Days)

2:19 PMHeather

I need to tell myself some things. Feel free to listen in. I am putting this in writing, for posterity sake and for all the world to see, in hopes that when I get ridiculous again (which I inevitably will because I'm super awesome that way), I will have THIS for reference.

 
Listen up, self. You are a mess. You are ridiculous about how you allow yourself to get all riled up over things. Over bad days. Over circumstances. And not just circumstances. But for the love, you continually let yourself get wound up about the same old stuff. You bang your head against the same sin habits, against the same relationship issues, against the same ole, same ole. You hit the wall because something unexpected came up or because things didn't turn out the way you thought they would. And you downward spiral in 2 seconds flat.

Blah, blah, blah.

You do this Eeyore routine oh-so-well. Perfected to nearly an art form. "Oh, bother. It's going to be rainy today. The sky is falling. The end is near. Nothing will ever be right again."

Geez louise. You exhaust me, self. 

So because you keep having the same dumb conversations in your head to try to talk yourself off the ledge, let's try something different. After all, insanity is defined as doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

Or, maybe it's defined as writing yourself a blog post, essentially letting the entire world wide web listen in on your internal dialogue by putting it in writing.

Whatever.

Here's the deal, self. You need to know some things and remember them and rehearse them and practice them until they become your habit and they become your go-to coping technique.

First of all, you will wrestle certain things your entire life. You are wired in certain ways. You have faults. You make mistakes. You have this horrible thing called a sin nature. In other words, this side of heaven, you will always be wrestling the flesh against something. Worry, unbelief, doubt, woundedness, bitterness, and a whole litany of other struggles that happen in this fallen world within your imperfect self.

So, how's about a little paradigm shift? 

Some things you may never "get over" or "be done with forever." Some things might be the thorn in your flesh. Some struggles may nip at your heels, constantly chasing you down. And sometimes, you will slow down enough that it feels as though these struggles overtake you. Again. And before you know, there you go again. You let yourself feel so easily discouraged because you thought that thing was over, but instead it's on repeat.

Some days, you will run your race hard and fast and you'll feel like dancing around with your arms up in the air like Rocky on the top of the staircase.

Some days, you will fall flat on your face and be all "woe is me" again.

Here's some truth for those instances when you are beating yourself up because gosh, darn-it, the same things are plaguing you. Here's some FACT for when you feel like the biggest loser (and not in that television show definition where it's a good thing). 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

So, take a gander at that. When you are feeling far from being an overcomer, remember that the One who saved you, who is within you, is THE Ultimate Overcomer. As Louie Giglio says, he's the Ultimate Come Back story. Because even a grave couldn't hold him. That's who you serve. So take heart! And quit reading that verse as if it said "in this world you might have trouble." It clearly says to expect it. To be positioned for it. To just accept it as fact. Jesus says you WILL have trouble.

Which brings me to the second uber important thing, self. You know how your pastor is always telling you to preach the gospel to your soul? And it sounds all awesome and you are all "AMEN!" Then you get home and you're all, "What the what? How does that even work?"

Go back and reread the last three paragraphs.

Now, you've just preached the gospel to yourself. 

Here is how it looks when you begin to tell your Eeyore feelings who's boss. Here is what it looks like to pick yourself up and immerse yourself in some bad-emotion-busting truth. Here's what it looks like to keep learning how to get over yourself.

Find Scriptures that relate to your struggle, your worry, your annoyances, your "blah blah" that is taking the wind out of your sails. When you are crashing and burning again, instead of saying, "OH BOTHER..," ask yourself, "What does the Bible say about this?"

When you have no foothold and you're flat on your face, grab your Bible (and maybe a Kleenex if you're in the ugly cry). Look in the concordance or look online at Bible Gateway or look in your big fat Wycliffe Bible Dictionary for the keywords about that which plagues you.

It goes like this.

Worry. Anxious. Stressed. Freaked out.

 Okay, so freaked out might only be found in The Message. 

But look up anxious or worry. 

BINGO.  Read through the Scriptures. The ones that really stand out to you or hit you between the eyes, write them out. On paper. With a pen. 

Be intentional. 

And so when you feel the worry rising, grab the card and read it through. A few times.

Maybe even say, "Okay, self. Listen up worry. Here's what God has to say about you." (But refrain from doing this in public places where people might think you're crazy. Remember--HIDE the crazy!)

That is one way to preach the gospel to yourself. To tell your feelings who is boss by reminding them what God has to say about them. THIS is what it means to feed your faith and starve your fears. To root yourself in TRUTH which is the Sword we swing to cut through our feelings.

Don't forget. God warns that the "heart is deceitful above all things" in Jeremiah 17:9. So that "letting the heart lead you" habit? Totally dangerous.

Got it? 

Alrighty, self. Once you say, "Hey self, here's some truth to help you get over yourself," then you can take another step. 

Go to your prayer journal. Run, do not walk. Do not stop to vent to your husband (again) or to take out your frustration on your kids. Or to text your BAE again with all your complaints. RUN to prayer. Write a long letter to God about how you're feeling. Vent on him all the live-long day. He will never tire of you and he will never tell your secrets. Ask him to take your load from you. 

Cast your cares on him, for he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

If you need help with how to pray about these big things that suck the joy and energy right outta you, then repeat after me.

"Lord, take this concern of mine. Help me to cast it to you. To hand it over. To throw it at you and let you carry it for me. Father, I am weak right here [then name the weak area]. Can you please show up right there--show up strong and let your power rest in me?"

So, listen, self, that is exactly how to take your prayer life to the next level, by preaching gospel to yourself. 

Pray the Scriptures you wrote out. 

Pray them out loud. 

Go into your war room, and fight it out in prayer. Post those index cards all over the wall and go in there and say it all out loud and let yourself and your God hear you voice the truths powerfully in order to silence the stupid feelings that try to boss you around.

(Note to self: this kind of out loud praying is good to warn your family about. Lest your kids think you are crazier than they already do. Your dog will just never understand. But he also won't tell your secrets. And if you use that certain high pitched sing-song voice, he might think you are talking to him).  

There is a reason that Jesus quoted the Scriptures throughout his ministry. There's a reason that he quoted them to Satan when being tempted in the wilderness. There's a reason the Bible talks about going to a private place to pray. There's a reason that Jesus "often retreated to a lonely place to pray."

Because that's what we are supposed to do. That is part of preaching the gospel to ourselves. Quoting Scripture. Praying Scripture. Letting our ears HEAR our voice saying the truth. It's a powerful spiritual discipline. I think you are beginning to see that. So keep at it, self. And for heavens sake, be thankful for that movie that let you know that war rooms are cool and life changing and not crazy at all.

Oh, and self, here's another spiritual discipline that helps you preach gospel to your soul. Listen to worship music. Listen to praise music. Listen to Christian music. When you are feeling the funk coming over you, turn on Pandora. Or iTunes or whatever. Crank it up. And listen to the words. Let the music wash over you and refocus you. 

Just a few more things here, self. For heaven's sake, please take advantage of the things you have learned about yourself in your 44 years. Don't forget to remember these insights into who you are and how you work. When the day is beating you up and you're all depleted, remember what fills you up. Grab your adult coloring book and color inside or outside the lines. It doesn't matter. Connect to that creative bent in you that is so therapeutic. Draw or sketch your own coloring pages. Hand letter. Doodle. Make something. 

Oh, and since you tend to need alone time in order to BEST decompress when things are really bad, let your family know you adore them. In fact, you love them so much that you're giving yourself a time-out so as to avoid saying something you might regret.

(And be liberal allowing them the same grace, by the way).

If you're just too tired for creativity, then pick up a good book. A fiction book with a plot you can get lost in. Or take a bubble bath. And remember that whatever feels so HUGE today, usually feels much better after a good night's sleep. It just might be time to call it a day and climb into bed and ask God to help you feel his fresh mercies for the new day when the alarm wakes you up again. 

So, listen, self, to this lecture. Read it again and again. Do what it says. I'm being the boss of you. Well, actually, don't forget that God is the boss and he still sits on his throne. Whatever curve ball is setting you off into Eeyore mode, it's no surprise to him. Stop and consider what has really changed since the contented feeling you woke up with this morning. 

The truth is that God is still God. He still has a plan and a purpose. Even for these things that tend to unravel you. He intends to weave every last thread of your story into a beautiful tapestry for his glory. The good. The bad. The ugly. The hard days. The great ones. 

And please remember what the last page says. If you turn to the end of the book, God wins. Satan is defeated forever and ever. God creates a new heaven and a new earth and you get to be part of that. You get the happily ever after forevermore. Because he loved you to death. So float in his grace and let it cover you. 
  
Okay, self. You got it? No more living like Eeyore when your Father is the Lord Almighty. No more "I'm doing okay, under the circumstances." For Pete's sake, WHAT on earth are you doing UNDER the circumstances? Remember that God rules OVER the circumstances. Let him lift you up. Be done with the meltdown and the negativity and letting yourself be bound up with fear and worry and unbelief. Refuse to be chained by it. Choose to believe instead. Choose to trust. Choose to praise him. 

Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? When they were facing a certain death in the fiery furnace, they told King Nebechednezzer that their God could save them from the circumstances. But, "if not, then He is still good." So, remember that God's goodness does not depend and is not measured by how "good" your day is or how well things are turning out for you right now.

Oh, and listen, one more thing. You have nothing to prove. You actually do not need to try to keep things under control. That's all an illusion anyway. Jesus does it all for you. So humbly admit your sorry state and let his love wash over you. Again and again and again.  

On even your worst days when it's all crashing down, remember that your life on earth is but a vapor. It's here today, and so quickly disappears. Don't waste these evil days, but instead make the most of every opportunity. Don't spend your life being Eeyore when you can be Winnie the Pooh.

It's like your Granny always told you when you complained about anything..."This too shall pass."

Amen and amen.    

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