By Abbey Friedline
My mind can be a stalemate trap for me sometimes. I have a rather loud inner critic. I hold myself to unrealistic standards and often assume that my loved ones hold me to those also. I see every misstep I take. My days are measured by the number of boxes I can check off my list. I find myself feeling more like a human-doing than a human-being. And I’ll spare you the wrath that tears through those six inches between my ears if I feel I haven’t done enough.
I didn’t really want to tell you that though. I don’t like admitting it. And I would be horrified if you thought I held you to the same standards—I don’t. I’m not analyzing, judging, or critiquing you. In fact, I so badly don’t want the same for you. I want you to see you how I see you. All of your potential, all of your beauty, the ways you reflect the image of Your creator. I want you to live in grace, knowing there is no invisible standard you have to reach in order to be deemed worthy.
And if I’m honest, I want that for me too. But there’s something in me that holds to my standards like a prison guard with a baton, ready to strike at any moment if I walk out of this jail cell. But, because I’m a go-getter, I have been working on an escape plan. Want to hear the first steps?
Step 1- Quit listening to yourself and start talking to yourself.
Step 2- Make sure the things you speak to yourself are TRUTH.
Step 3- Do this over and over.
So as I sit in the prison of my own standards, I choose not to waste away. I will do the exercises to build the muscles.
The first step in strengthening muscle is tearing it down. I can’t tear down the lies I believe until I know what they are. The things I know to be lies are the things that make me feel shame or condemnation. They make me doubt my calling and worth, and they try to rewrite my identity to be lesser than. Once I know them, I can quit listening to the lies.
Then rebuild the muscle. For every lie that I recognize, I find a truth to dispute it. But just doing it once won’t get me anywhere; this is where repetition comes in. The lies didn’t take hold hearing them once. It was hearing, believing, and repeating them that gave them foothold in my heart. I’ll have to do the same with the Truth.
I am not enough. –> Jesus’ grace for me is enough. His strength shows up best in the places mine fails. So I choose to embrace my weakness… because it’s there I see His strength as more than enough. (2 Cor 12:9)
I am too much. –> God delights in me. His love doesn’t turn down my volume. In fact, He celebrates me with a happy dance. (Zeph 3:17)
I have to prove my worth. –> It is grace that saves me, through faith. It’s not anything I’ve done (not my works or anything I can do), but grace is a gift God gives me.” (Eph 2:8-9)
Doing my best means I have no choice but to keep working. –> God is in control. He is working always. So I can be still, because God is God. (Ps 46)
I’ve failed, again. –> The LORD goes before me and is with me. (No matter what I do) He will never leave me nor reject me. So no need to be discouraged. (Deut 31:8)
‘Their’ opinions are truth. –> I trade my weariness and heaviness (from listening to the voices of the world), for Jesus’ rest. He is gentle with me and is a safe place to rest. (Matt 11: 28-29)
And you know what’s pretty cool? After practicing these trade-offs enough, I look up and find the jail door is standing wide open. The guard is off-duty and I’m free to walk out into the daylight, my head lifted high, the Truth deep in my soul. I can face the day. I can face the night.
So can you, friend. Find the Truth that defeats the lies. Repeat them over and over. Then walk out of whatever prison has held you too long. The door is open.