The pause after I’ve asked a question of someone, realizing in that split second that the person is going to point out one of my faults or a way I’ve failed their expectations.
The words that follow are the hardest not to interrupt– to try and justify myself.
To keep from offering a quick “I’m sorry” and “Can we go back to the way things were?”
No one is perfect, but it hasn’t made me feel any less condemned.
When a person brings to light something I’d rather keep hidden, it’s almost as if I split into two people.
Part of me is listening to the words the person is saying, and the other part is standing beside the sharer, shaking an accusing finger back at me.
She becomes louder than the person who is actually speaking, railing on about all the ways I will never measure up, and that I’m a complete failure to those I love.
She inserts twisted expectations the person speaking hasn’t even mentioned, like. . .
You will always be an anxious person, feeling uptight over circumstances that would make others laugh.
You will never learn how to control your reactions of impatience toward your son.
You will never reach a point where your tone and behavior respects and honors your husband.
When I realize the real person is still speaking, sometimes offering words of encouragement that I can’t quite focus on, I start to envy turtles, wishing I had my own built-in closet to hide in.
I’ve forgotten that the God who raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of me, ready to help and give grace when I fail.
Here are a few steps I’ve taken when the knives of condemnation start to break skin.
- Praise God for who He is.
When I take time to search Scripture and think about who God is, it’s a whole lot easier to remember that I’m not alone. The One who is with me is more powerful than a lion and gentler than a lamb.
I often sing You are Holy while in the car, since it lists so many names of God.
No matter how I’ve seemed to mess up my life or relationships, God’s promises are always there, like a ripe peach ready to be picked.
Some of the promises I’ve clung to in these times are:
God doesn’t condemn me, because Jesus took my punishment and shame.
He has adopted me as His child.
He loved me and provided the way to be rescued, even while I was still wallowing in my sins.
My value is not based on my performance.
No matter what happens on earth, my ultimate destination is living a life of joy in Jesus’ presence on the New Earth.
- Pour out your feelings and frustrations to God.
Flip to almost any of the psalms, and you’ll see hearts being laid bare. Fear, discouragement, and cries for help remind me of all I can bring before God.
When I also confess where I’ve sinned through thought, words, or action, His forgiving embrace is there, ready to remind me that I am His.
Many of the psalms end with a note of hope, as the writers speak truth about God, inviting His thoughts into their feelings.
Sometimes, I’m working so hard to hide the fact that I have faults, I don’t let others in on any of my feelings. My husband told me that he can’t always tell when I’m struggling, unless I say it outright (without trying to send any subliminal messages.)
When those close to me know the parts of me that are sick, they can fight with me instead of against me when I let them down. They can bring me before God’s throne and cheer me on as I battle. (Ephesians 6)
- Thank God for His forgiveness, for His Spirit’s power working inside of you.
The God who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1). The Spirit delights in our process of growing in holiness, and we can look forward to the day when we will be sanctified through and through (1 Thessalonians 4:23).
Sometimes it’s helpful to reflect on the changes God has guided us into already. Packing for trips used to make me incredibly anxious and overwhelmed, but on this last trip, I was able to rest in Jesus’ peace, knowing I wasn’t a terrible person if I forgot something. Thanking Him for the progress has given me an extra measure of strength for the battle.
How can you join in the fight today, rather than surrendering to thoughts that destroy?
Who has God brought into your life to fight for?
Jesus, may the next painful conversation we have be covered in your grace as we seek to depend on You. We are Yours.