I time my exercise around Joyce Meyer’s program “Enjoying Everyday Life”. Today she talked about her new book, “Eat the Cookie, Buy the Shoes.” It deals with the issue of guilt in a Christian’s life. She mentioned today that personalities such as my own (melancholic perfectionist that I am) have a harder time dealing with it, and I agree with that. But after years of struggle, I think I’m finally getting where I need to be. How do I know this? In the past when I would blow it (as I often do), I would be depressed for days and kick myself around the block a couple of hundred times. My feelings would go on a rampage and inside I would feel them taking their arms across the organized desk in my heart and knocking everything off–computer, telephone, books, writing. And there it (my life) would lie on the floor in a jumbled mess and sometimes I didn’t want to make the effort to pick things up one by one and put them back. After all, I would hear in my head, I would never learn and it was just a matter of time before I would blow it again anyway.
I believe it was during one of Joyce’s programs that I first heard the analogy that feelings can be like misbehaving children, and when they act up you need to send them to their room. It took some effort at first, but I’ve gotten pretty good at doing just that, and it’s working. Are all feelings bad? Heavens no! But for years I let feelings run my life. If I didn’t feel like doing something, I wouldn’t do it. If I had a fear about something, I let it motivate me to do (or not do) something. If I felt overwhelmed, it immobilized me. If I felt worthless because of failure, I wouldn’t bother even trying to reach out again.
People are complicated creatures who possess a mind, will, and emotions which are interconnected in ways I don’t pretend to understand. Yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but we sure can make a mess of things when we don’t learn to discipline our thoughts because thoughts can often trigger our feelings to misbehave. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks within himself, so he is.” Physically speaking, you are what you eat. Spiritually, you are what you think. The two are interconnected–the physical affects the spiritual and vice versa–and life is a constant balancing act in many ways.
Recently I blew it again. The noisy children stood by the desk, pointing fingers and accusing me, arms ready to do their dirty deed, sneering, watching the first tear fall down my cheek and then I raised my own arm and pointed. They went in silence, shocked I think (as I was a little bit, too). When I heard the door click shut I let the tears come and they were cleansing, because “stripes that wound scour away evil.” Yes, I deserved what I got, for I had let pride creep in and that’s all it takes. “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So there, broken, I took it to the Cross and left it there, walking away with fresh grace, amazed at God’s love. I love that T-shirt that says, “I’m the wretch the song talks about.” Yeah, that would be me! :)
Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” I am learning to celebrate my victories, which in this case came on the back side of failure, for “whom the Lord loves he chastens.” I don’t despise that chastening; it is proof that my Father loves me. The more I am able to grasp that love, to receive it and the healing it brings, the better able I will be to love others. And that’s why I’m here.