Friday, January 05, 2007

Say What?

I've always been somewhat of an overacheiver. A B was never good enough. It had to be the A. There was a girl in my high school that would argue with the teacher for a 99 if she had a 98 - I wasn't that kind of girl. But I always felt - disappointed -when I didn't excel at something. Being okay wasn't okay. I wanted to be the best.

The problem was that I really thought I HAD to be the best. I felt like if I was just smart enough, then maybe my parents would really love me and all of my problems would go away. Yeah. Right. But what has lingered is not believing that is true, but the thought life that goes with that kind of "performance mentality". I was my own harshest critic. If I didn't do well, I would berate myself mentally for messing up, for failing, for not meeting expectations. Granted, some of it came directly from parents who never seemed happy with what I accomplished, but I also set the bar so high that no human being could ever meet my own expectations - much less myself.

Those "bad thoughts" - the ones where I tell myself that I'm worthless or a failure or not smart enough or nice enough, that no one likes me and that I hate myself - have been my companions for years. That is, up until a few weeks ago. I don't really know what changed or what happened. Tongues of fire didn't land on my head and there were no bright lights or angelic visits - but something definitely changed. Now I work hard to speak in a positive way - about my efforts, about God's work in me, about giving myself grace and you know what - it has made a huge difference. You see, when you judge yourself harshly, it's hard not to judge others the same way. So I find myself more relaxed, and more compassionate, all at the same time. I am able to push through and persevere in new ways.

I doubt I am the only one who has made these same mistakes. Even knowing that God loved me and that my value was found in being his didn't really help my mind flip that switch. I had to change. And you know what I discovered? I discovered that sometimes those mean, nasty thoughts become your only friends. They are comfortable and familiar and if you let go of them, you're not really sure what will come in their place. Letting go is scary - even if you are letting go of bad stuff. And it's the bad stuff that God wants to clean out of you and me.

I'm sure there's plenty of other crap He's going to have dig out of there, but instead of feeling like I am always losing the battle for my thoughts, the tide has turned and my side won a pivotal victory. So no matter what battle you're facing keep trudging on - you just never know when the battle will turn for you.