The Relational Economy: Deficit Living - Part 2
- Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The truth is that this side of Eden, this side of heaven, we all live with a deficit. We all walk with a limp that testifies to sin in the world—that all is not as it should be. We are not who we should be, could be, or will be and this has nothing to do with our relational status. We are wounded on a regular basis because broken people have jagged edges and because we are made of flesh, not steel. We are human.
Of all the voices in your head the one that matters most is the Lord's, yes. But the next voice of importance—is your own. And since "you will be talking to yourself; you might as well be in charge of what you say to yourself! WE control the voices in our heads. If that is not true (without humor) you need to seek help. But, since we do control these voices, we must "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
While our lives are filled with real events, deficit living stems not from those events alone, but from what we make of them—in our heads.
A friend once said to me, "I feel fat!" When challenged on the obvious foolishness of her comment—she was somewhere between petite and diminutive—she responded, "I didn't say I WAS fat. I said I FELT fat." Whoa! What a profound and true distinction!
Yes, her "feeling" coincided with her monthly cycle, but her comment was a profound statement on the human condition. As some would say, "Perception is reality." In many ways it matters little what the truth is if the "feeling" is deep enough. We do not respond to reality alone. We respond to how we feel about reality—or better, our minds construct a perceived reality—our own virtual reality.
A straight "A" student can be made to "feel" stupid. A physically beautiful person can be made to "feel" ugly." A successful person can be made to "feel" like a failure. Even a Godly person may begin to question their self-worth depending on how they "feel" that day—whether they can get a date or get married.
Feelings are notoriously deceptive. Some are associated with monthly cycles, and some with bad meals. It is no surprise, then, that some feelings can be traced to unfulfilled desires and the pain of prolonged singleness.
I remember feeling like a failure no matter what I accomplished. It was not that I didn't appreciate the gifts and the blessings, but all things seemed colored by that one longing. One day while doing laundry saw a friend casually bend down and pass his hand in a circular fashion inside the dryer. He did this once, twice, three times, four times… "What are you doing" I snapped?! He was startled, stopped, and told me he had OCD. I had no idea.
It occurred to me that my own mind was plagued by false ideas. It was not a dryer I checked again and again, but thoughts of failures tinged with regrets were always spinning through my head. I was always either trying not to do the same thing or trying to repeat the magic. I finally had to tell myself, "Let it go. Stop! Take those thoughts captive."
The truth is our feelings, even those we understand to be false, are grounded, if only loosely, in some sort of reality—how the cards were played, what hands we've lost. Eventually that reality becomes lodged in the theater of our minds and is played over and over again. The failures and rejections I experienced in dating coalesce into the idea that I was a failure. A little truth mingled with false ideas of success, coupled to the passing of time, left me poor of spirit and living at a deficit.
I would call someone and call again, and again, and again. I was unwilling to admit that perhaps they got the call and did not want to call back. Instead I would say, "Perhaps they didn't get the message. Perhaps they are just really busy. Maybe they didn't get my number."
I just COULD NOT LET GO. Even those frail "possibilities" were better than the seemingly hopeless wilderness of no options. Maybes were stacked atop maybes until something at the bottom broke—usually my heart, occasionally my spirit—but never my faith. I refused to doubt the God who had, to that point, given me so many other things. I took hold of this great thought: our lives are in Christ and He will not let us be broken or destroyed. What happens here stays here. Resurrection will wipe these memories with our tears—away.
We know "whom [we] have believed, and [we are] convinced that he is able to guard what [we] have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). Entrust to Him your heart. Give Him your future. Give Him all your hopes. From this vantage point comes the confidence to say, "I will not believe the rising ‘feelings' that tell me I am unworthy or that He does not love me. Even were I fat, ugly, and stupid, the fact that I am good enough for Jesus makes me good enough—period.
We are to "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). I speak from my own pain not from some higher ground. I have known the pit. I etched my name into its walls. My tears too wet that ground but always I was looking up. I speak what I am confident is truth. If you fail to take these thoughts captive you may never rise above them and never cease to be plagued by them.
After we entertain these lies for a long time they leave us nearly broke, convinced that we are poor. Convinced of our poverty (lies) we live meager lives. If this continues there is the added danger of carrying these false thoughts into any prospective marriage.
Failed relationships do not exhaust the wealth of who we are, they are merely questions followed by answers—a "would you" followed by a "no." And that hurts every time. If you didn't care you wouldn't have asked and if you care it hurts. But these wounds do not last forever unless we build them a shrine, hang lighting, and invite guests. My advice? Drive them to some deserted road and force them out into the ditch—then drive off. Take them to the edge of some barren and ragged cliff and let them fall. Or more practically, write them all out on a piece of paper and ceremonially—burn them. You are worth more than that.
Now, wipe your eyes and check your account. God had already deposited new worth into your account signed in the blood of His son—Jesus the Christ from whose account grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20). Far from broke—you are wealthy.
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