When my immediate response to a trite question on Facebook, one I would normally ignore: if you were asked to bring something to a party that begins with the first letter of your name? was ‘garbage’ I knew I was in trouble.
There is so much spoken these days about mental health and how important it is to take care, not only of our own mental health but also be sensitive to those around us. I have been through a number of trials the past few weeks that have left me feeling vulnerable, insecure and worthless.
Harsh words, unfriendly looks, innocuous happenings, the actions that contribute to the erosion of self-esteem are so insignificant when taken incident by incident, but depression, anxiety, fear are invidious stalkers, that creep up gradually until one morning you wake up with that familiar dread weight in your solar plexus. It’s horrible.
We had a sermon yesterday on humility and as I drove away with a friend, she remarked that feelings of hurt, indignation, are evidence of pride in our lives. Pride. Opposite to humility. Hard pill to swallow when you are struggling with self-doubt. A premise that needs examining nonetheless.
It is never easy reaching out to others from a position of woundedness – the level of trust required to share those deep misgivings are not easily forged – so the sense of isolation, rejection, non-acceptance, heighten.
it is important to recognise the signs. To act swiftly.
As a Christian I know when this happens I need to go back to the roots of my faith, establish Whose I am. I have to remember that I am who God says I am, not all those voices out there. I have to dig deep, sometimes deeper than I have the energy for, but dig I must for this miry clay is no place to wallow or linger.
It amazes me that often when I am in this place a verse will crop up in various messages, or teachings, or studies that I read. Today it was an old favourite, the oft-quoted Jeremiah 29 v 11: For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
The first look and I glossed, or maybe my eyes glazed, over it. “Yeah”, I thought. “Heard that before.” A while later the same verse turned up again in another reading. Hhmm. Time to get up. Reject the invitation to self-pity, take reasonable stock, face forward.
The context of this verse comes at a time when the Israelites were in captivity to the Babylonians, and the Lord had told them through the prophet, Jeremiah, they weren’t coming home anytime soon. This was an encouragement to them, not to despair, not to give up.
The next three verses are equally pertinent:
12. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
14a. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity:
Freedom from captivity. Freedom from doubt and fear. Freedom from the judgment of those not qualified to judge.
I know there are people out there who have days like I have described, who are feeling sad and wounded. Maybe you are worried about the harm your words have caused to others when you have snapped at them from your place of angst and unhappy. I certainly do. I have the ability to wound as well and as harshly as I have been hurt.
I have a choice. You have a choice. We can stay where we are, incapacitated and miserable, or we can get up and fight against that which would down us.
Take heart! Today is a new day. There is a future and a hope. Start telling yourself the good stuff and reject the lousy.
I used to tell girls I counselled: ‘God doesn’t make rubbish’, so when you put yourself down you insult the God of heaven. He made us in His image, and whilst we may be a little battered and bruised, not as great as we would like to be, He only sees the perfection He had in mind when He created us.
Like the loving Father He is.
His world tells us over and again: you are precious in His sight. He delights in you. He laid down His life for you! He made you as you are to fulfill His purpose – find what that is, focus on it, and go forward! There will always be dissenters and ne’ersayers, critics and judges. Learn to put their words into perspective:
How important are they to you? How much does their opinion matter?
Are their words true? If so, even a little true, what are you going to do about it?
What positive accolades have you received that you can focus on?
Each one of us has the freedom to choose what we are going to do, how we are going to react, what we will believe. We can turn the tide in our own lives, by being willing to change, to take charge of our thoughts, bringing every thought captive unto Christ, allowing our minds to be renewed, transformed by the life-giving love of God, even reaching out to a friend, allowing them the privilege of walking with us through the dark and scary valleys, until we come to that place of light, where the sun shines once more and birdsong fills the air.
I would like to be that friend.