It’s been one of those weeks. Every single day, something went wrong. I won’t mention the day I buttoned my shirt wrong and then actually went out in public without knowing until I looked in a mirror and looked my mortification right in the eyes, mentally retracing every possible person I ran into who may have seen it. Or the day I woke up extra early after staying up late the night before to drive to a get-together before work only to find an empty parking lot and then realize the get-together was actually planned for NEXT WEEK. Or the day I was so extremely “out of it” that I literally walked (more like slammed) into a closed door in my house, consequently giving myself a throbbing headache for the next fifteen minutes. Or the day I made 94,368 mistakes at my new job. (Make that every day this week except Tuesday).
Oops, I guess I did mention those after all.
I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I hold myself to a very high standard. So when I believe that I have fallen short of that standard, I am extremely hard on myself. I beat myself up for days over one thing I mess up. Because in my mind, I KNOW that I can do better. Often I don’t give myself any room to mess up. This wears on the heart after a while.
Some of the many thoughts that plague me during one of these weeks (or days, or months, or years, etc.) are as follows:
“You can’t do anything right.”
“You always mess everything up.”
“You’re so dumb, no one else does things like that.”
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’ll never be as good as them.”
“You’re less than.”
“You’re not good at anything you do, just okay at it”
“You’re just one of the crowd, no one even notices you.”
….And many more like it.
Yet what I’ve come to realize, is that I’ve got to stop letting these thoughts define me. There have been so many times this week when I’ve just wanted to give up and forget it because “I’m never going to get things right.”
But every time, there’s always a tiny part of me deep inside that wants to fight, that wants to push beyond the struggle and rise above. There’s always this sliver of tenacity in me that says back, “I can do this, and I will do this, and I am not giving up. I am going to make this happen. I am going to make this work. I am going to rise above my mistakes, and I am going to be who I know I can be.”
More than once this week, I have felt that painful lump in the back of my throat, threatening at any time to give way and unleash a flood of tears. More than once this week, I’ve happened to catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror when all the lies were pounding me. And in those moments as I have looked into my own eyes, I’ve wanted to even say all those lies out loud, to remind myself of what a failure I am.
Yet in the midst of this inner battle, I’ve always heard another voice whispering ever so softly. It’s barely audible above all the shouting lies I’m believing, but the spirit behind it draws me. This voice gently pulls on my heartstrings while all the other voices seem to play a relentless tug-of-war on my emotions, and quite compellingly.
It’s right then, in that moment, that I have to decide. I have to decide which voice I’m going to listen to, and what I’m going to believe. It’s so easy and it even makes sense to believe all the lies, because they seem so accurate; they feel so right.
But guess what?
Feelings never dictate truth – truth always trumps feelings.
It doesn’t matter what I’m feeling; if God says that I’m worth it, that I’m not useless, that I have a purpose, that I’m good at something, that I measure up, that I belong, then that’s the truth.
My emotions can feel entirely opposite of the things God says, but emotions are not an accurate foundation upon which to lay the heart. Why? Because they’re fickle. Our emotions are completely unreliable because they change every day; even every few moments. They are not solid. They don’t have the strength to uphold the heart.
So in that moment, staring in that mirror, I chose to wage war against all the accusations of the enemy, and to speak life over myself. I chose to speak truth to my spirit. I looked right into my own eyes, though filling with tears, and I spoke what God had already said about me:
‘You are loved. You are strong. You are powerful. You are purposeful. You are good enough. You are needed. You are not unseen. You are not useless. You are known. You belong.’
And you know what?
I didn’t feel any different afterward.
But you know what else?
I chose to not let the way I felt determine what I believed.
It’s called being in control of your emotions, not letting them control you. In my spirit and heart, I knew that the things I had just spoken over myself were 100% truth.
The perfectionist mentality is a well-disguised enemy of your spirit. It stifles the growth and expansion of your heart. It causes your eyes to look at yourself, rather than Christ.
To not give yourself room to make mistakes is to not give yourself room to be human.
This is my confession at the end of this long, exhausting, draining week: I will keep going, I will not give up, I will push past my current failures, and I will lean into perfect love, while all my fears, shortcomings, and inadequateness are washed away by it.
One last word: Weeks like this, or days like this, or seasons like this, are valuable for and vital to our spiritual journey. They have taught me the value of knowing my identity, being grounded in truth and steady in who God says I am. They have taught me to deny my emotions the right to rule over my heart. They have taught me perseverance. And most significant of all, they have led me even deeper in relationship with my First Love, the One who captured me so long ago and continues to draw me ever after Him.
Don’t ever miss out on the opportunity to grow through stretching times like these. If you choose to grow, and if you say yes to the process, you are saying yes to gold.