The older I get, the more finely tuned my BS meter becomes. That’s a good thing for a counselor. I’ve learned to question it when someone tells me they aren’t drinking any more or that the bruises they’ve received were from an accident. I trust my gut to look for supporting evidence.
But the biggest lies I can still believe are actually the ones I tell myself. They’re the source of much self-constructed suffering. A few weeks ago I hurt my knee one Saturday morning while enjoying a brisk walk with my husband. I spent the majority of that weekend on the couch with my leg up icing it and resting. My husband left one afternoon to catch up on some work. After a couple hours, I was feeling pretty bored and lonely. So I decided to browse Facebook to see what my friends were up to. BIG MISTAKE. They were enjoying a European vacation, celebrating their child’s wedding, attending a beachside family reunion, eating like there was no tomorrow.
Suddenly what had been a knee problem became a heart issue. I concluded I had the most boring, unproductive, unsuccessful, most troubling life of everyone I knew. Now as a counselor, I know the phrase, “Compare and Despair.” I’ve USED it with plenty of clients, warning them of the dangers of comparing your own life to what you perceive as someone else’s reality.
The problem wasn’t what my friends were doing. They caused me no harm. Believing my own thoughts had led me down the slippery slope of self-pity. I don’t need anyone else to make me unhappy. I can do that all by myself. My suffering was self-constructed.
Most of the time we don’t question our thoughts. We act as if they’re telling us the truth. I’ve told myself the very words, I hear my clients say:
· This shouldn’t be so hard.
· I should have figured this out by now.
· I should be doing better than this.
· This is just who I am.
I once heard a famous psychiatrist say that his one most essential piece of advice for a happy life was “Don’t believe every stupid thought that enters your mind.” I get it. If we could only surrender what we think our life should be like and accept it for what it is, so much of our suffering would end.
By always trying to get somewhere else, or be like someone else, we miss enjoying where we’re at. And if we miss that, we miss enjoying our life.
In the midst of my self-pity I had to ask myself, “What am I believing that has made me feel this way?” See, I forget what I know is true. I think a lot of us do. So I have to remind myself of what I know:
· I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. Why? Because it’s exactly
where I am, and that is always where God meets me.
· This is a sacred moment in my Father-filtered life that God wants
to use for good.
· The worst things in my life God has turned into the best things, so I
no longer have to fear “the worst.”
· This is exactly what I need to experience to surrender to God’s love
and care for me.
It’s so easy to forget that God is the source of our joy, not our circumstances. I have to bring that thought into my conscious awareness in order to counter the lies in my head. By allowing truth to sink in, even though life is hard, I end the self-imposed suffering.
Today my knee is on the mend, and so is my heart (until the next time, when I’ll have to repeat it all again.) I’m thankful for where I’m at. Because the truth of this situation, and every situation in life, is that God is in it, whispering, “NOW will you let me love you?”
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