Have you ever thought about how you think about yourself? Far too often, it’s easy to become your own worst enemy.
Lately I’ve noticed something ugly in my own life and in the life of others: People aren’t very kind to themselves.
Oh, sure, we may think we’re being kind with little guilty pleasures every now and then – sleeping in, treating yourself to a frou frou coffee drink, splurging on a new pair of shoes (or whatever may strike your fancy). But have you thought about how you think about yourself?
Far too often, people of all ages mentally beat themselves up over unimportant matters.
- How many times do you find yourself looking in the mirror and thinking you have to lose weight? Or get a new hairstyle? Or need a new outfit?
- How many times do you think that someone else – either someone you know or someone you only read about – has a perfect life and you just can’t compare?
- How many times do you berate yourself for messing up? Or wish you could do better? Or do more?
Have you become your own worst enemy?
The tendency to henpeck myself has crept in to my thoughts – and I never even noticed it. I regularly entertain the thoughts of:
- How so many more moms are better homeschoolers.
- How so many more bloggers are more successful.
- How so many more wives are thinner or more athletic or prettier or have fantastic hair.
- How so many more mothers abound in patience or sweetness. Or they simply must not be so grouchy with their children.
- How so many more writers are securing agents or book deals.
- How so many more homemakers keep cleaner homes, create better menus, or decorate impeccably.
- How so many more parents have more obedient (or less dramatic) children.
- How so many more people are consistently on time.
My list goes on and on and on. Have you noticed what every one of my issues centers around? The external. What others may think. My own selfish pride. The enemy wants us to have these thoughts because they are so selfish. And when we are focused on our own self, we are not focused on the mission God has for us.
The funny thing is I know I don’t truly care about any of these things – yet they still invade my thoughts. (Interesting how Satan works, huh?)
Comparison has become a normal part of my every day, and here’s the scary thing: I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. I let the thoughts in and they have a great time wreaking mental havoc while I go about my day to day tasks, feeling discouraged yet wishful that I can change.
This should not be so. In fact, it’s utterly ridiculous. Because no one is perfect – and my imperfect attempts and all of my fumbling just might appear to be great to someone else.
A wake up call
I was confronted with the reality just yesterday. A dear friend and I have been trading off homeschooling history lessons twice a month – one week we meet at her home and she prepares the lesson and lunch, two weeks later I do the same.
Two weeks ago, she had an ah-MAZE-ing Boston Tea Party lesson. The kids were engaged and having fun, I loved watching them learn – and then I began to think about how it was the best school lesson they’ve had all year. And it wasn’t anything I had prepared.
After she finished, she apologized for the lesson, for misbehaving kids, for whatever … and I kept thanking her for the wonderful day, blown away by her FANTASTIC job.
Yesterday, we switched and I hosted a George Washington lesson. I felt like it was such a disaster. Since I waited until the night before to finalize lesson plans, I spent the early morning scurrying around to prepare – and then, I was late. The other family came and I was still preparing our morning snack. (Fortunately the kids loved starting off the day with some play time.)
By the time the lesson came, I felt like it was a big flop. How in the world do you engage young students in George Washington’s life? I muddled through the morning, completely winging some of the activities. It seemed like a near disaster to me. But do you know what my friend quietly kept repeating? “This is AMAZING!”
I decided we’re a perfect match, because I thought her lesson was incredible – even though she deemed it a failure – and she thought mine was incredible – even though I’m quite certain it was a disaster.
And then it hit me. People are far too quick to dwell on their perceived shortcomings than to celebrate what’s actually going right.
Let’s make a change, OK?
If you struggle with the same thought processes that I do, I want to tell both of us that it just isn’t healthy.
We need to stop beating ourselves up.
Not everything is going to be perfect. (That’s life in this fallen world!) We are always going to need to improve. Someone will always be better than we are. And someone will always be worse.
As long as we’re making an honest attempt in our day-to-day living, could we all just chill out? Give yourself grace. You may need it more than you think.
While you want to avoid being proud (“The haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” – Isaiah 2:17), you also don’t want to think of yourself worse than you should.
Remember – you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 14). God loves you so much that He sent His son to give his life FOR YOU (John 3:16). If you’re a believer in Christ, you’ve been redeemed. You are set apart. You’ve been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing.
Start examining your thoughts, and stop dwelling on destructive lies. (When you fill your minds with the truth of the Bible, you’ll be able to discern what those lies are.) Live in freedom and confidence that you’re a work in progress – and most likely you’re doing a lot better than you think.