I don’t know about you, but I readily admit to hearing voices in my head.
- “Don’t do that.”
- “Why did she say that?”
- “What were you thinking?”
- “How long will it take someone to miss me if I just run away?”
- “Am I a terrible person?”
- “Why didn’t I say that?”
- “Why did I get out of bed this morning?”
- “Am I doing anything right?”
- “She couldn’t be any more wrong if she tried.”
If you are anything like me, you tend to meditate on these thoughts. You repeat them over and over and over in your head until they become overwhelming and all-consuming.
Usually because you’re convinced you are completely right and the other person is totally wrong.
But here’s one truth I know – this repetition isn’t helping anyone or anything. It isn’t helping you forgive. It isn’t helping you get along with that person. It isn’t helping you move on. It isn’t helping you face the truth that you could be (and probably are) wrong. And it definitely isn’t walking in love.
There is this constant battle happening for our thoughts. And we have to decide which way we will think. Yes, it is your choice.
Are you choosing to listen to that negative, condemning reminder of that mistake you made? Or are you choosing instead to listen to the loving, forgiving, accepting voice of God that wants to cover your mistake with grace?
I was prompted to write this by an incident that happened at work this week. One of our calls on Monday was to a home where the power had been turned off. In these instances, we complete an inspection to make sure the home is safe, complete any needed repairs, and then pull a permit for the customer. The tech that wound up with the call is newer and did not realize he had to charge for the permit. He missed it, and I missed it when I cleared him. So how did we find the error? The customer called to get a status update from us. Tuesday afternoon. At 4:00pm. The permit office closes at 4:30pm. Yes, we scrambled to make it right. Yes, we got it done.
So of course we had to have discussions about this. I admitted on Tuesday that I missed it, and I still admit that I missed it. I could have denied it and tried to make myself look not guilty. I could have argued that it was Monday, it was crazy busy, and we were one person short in our office. But none of these is a great excuse. I should have caught it and sent him back in to deal with the customer. But I didn’t. So it turned into a two-fold moment: I got to confess that I am human and make mistakes, and the owner gets a teaching point for the Monday meeting.
So what do I hear this morning when I come in (early)? A joking boss reminding me that I missed the permit. A humorous reminder of my mistake. Sure, we were smiling. No, I was offended. Yes, I still admitted I made a mistake. And then I made a good point: out of the 50 million things I did on Monday, this is the only one I messed up. Everything else was right. Are we really going to focus on this one thing?
And that’s what the enemy wants to do to us. Remind us day after day about every mistake, every wrong choice, every hurt, every bad word, every harsh thought.
- He will hound you about it.
- He will point it out daily.
- He will bring it back to your memory as often as you let him.
- He will have someone bring it up, randomly.
Just when you think it is done and over, he will drag it back into your life. He’ll draw attention to it so you have to see it and feel it and experience it again. So you feel the shame, the embarrassment, the hurt, the pain, the condemnation, the depression, the frustration.
- Can you go back and undo the mistake? No.
- Can you learn from the mistake and do better? Yes.
- Can you move beyond the mistake so it’s a distant memory? Definitely!
- Is it easy to let it go and walk in grace? Usually not.
- Is it worth it to give it completely to God? Definitely!
So are you going to continue to argue with God about how you are right, or are you going to listen to God as He is prompting you toward the better choice?
I hope you believe in a great God who loves you with abounding grace. Stop allowing yourself to be covered with shame and reproach. Refuse to play the shame game, and say “shut up!” to the voice of shame. Stop being dragged into a pit of self-pity and self-despair. Stop carrying your baggage with you into tomorrow.
There is no mistake that grace cannot cover and make whole.
There is no mistake too big for God to handle.
I think Paul has the best advice in Philippians 4:8 – 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
What does this mean?
- Whatever things – all things, as many things, those things
- Noble – honest, honorable, worthy of reverence, holy, modest
- Just – equitable, holy, right, righteous, innocent
- Pure – clean, innocent, modest, perfect, chaste, sacred, holy
- Lovely – amiable, friendly, pleasing, lovable
- Of good report – reputable, well spoken of, gracious, admirable, proper, commendable
- Meditate on these things – fix your thoughts on, keep your mind on, fill your mind with
Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 12:34b-35, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”
So what are you thinking?
- Is it uplifting?
- Is it right?
- Is it loving?
- Is it encouraging?
- Is it friendly?
Don’t let your thoughts be filled with hateful, wrathful, and vengeful thoughts. Don’t dwell on all the wrongs and all the bad things. Find something good and focus on that. Let the good become the truth that fills your thoughts.
And remember we are called to forgive and love people, just as we have been loved and forgiven.
So what voice will you listen to today? What will you allow to fill your thoughts?
Marie Fremin, 1/28/15