Disappointed? With yourself? With God?
I get this…
The college sophomore stared back at me in the mirror.
Who was she?
I had no idea.
But I needed to find out – and fast.
Back in the dark ages, when I attended university, credits got counted by quarters. I’d been floundering for five quarters, unable to land on a major (already changed 3 times to avoid calculus and accounting) and running out patience from my source of funds (and rightly so, my parents wanted to see some results from their bright girl) and the university (apparently you can’t stay if your GPA is too low…).
I stood in front of the mirror in my dorm room and looked at the young woman staring at me. What I know now that I didn’t then was that the sleep deprivation had left more than its traditional calling card of dark circles under my eyes.
Depression. Mild, but enough that it was awful.
Depression finally faded with the attempt to heal from mononucleosis – the reinstatement of sleep left me clear headed for the first time in months.
Health returned to my body and my mind.
I lost the weight easily when sleep returned to my routine. Apparently, that’s a thing – can’t lose weight without sleep!
If I had known the Lord at that time in my life, I would have known what to do – I would have repented. On my knees-style, tearfully, I would have confessed my waste of time, lack of maturity, and poor decisions. I would have asked forgiveness and then accepted it, risen, and faced the day with new mercy brightly coloring my perceptions.
Maybe, if I had known the Lord like some of my friends who were doing pretty well grade-wise and emotionally, maybe like them I wouldn’t have one quarter to get my life together or go find a job in a fast food place. Or maybe, like my secular friends who were doing well, I would have focused on the right thing, like school – instead of trying to be liked, be popular, and being unwise in the process.
Instead, back at that one day, I was reaping what I had sowed.
And I knew it.
Unhealthily, I stood in front of the mirror and berated myself.
They call it the “freshman 15” but you made it the “freshman 30.”
Your hair is gross. You’re fat and ugly.
And you are out of time. You’ve been lazy and stupid. You can’t go back to living with your parents, so what ARE you going to do?
Although my method of demeaning self-talk was really unhealthy, it still ended in a miraculous moment when I took ownership over my behavior, and decided to change.
Had I known the Lord and been a follower of Jesus Christ at the time, I might have called my parents and apologized for the drama of the last two years. But I wasn’t, so I didn’t, and no glory was seen.
At least not in that moment.
What I did do was change my major. Again.
But this time, I wisely took the advice of the admissions lady and signed up for a major based on my favorite class experience – speech. I liked public speaking 101 or whatever it was called so much, that I took the next level class. I got A’s in both of them.
So even though I didn’t know Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” I now believe God used that admissions lady to give me a hand in His direction. He knew how He wired me.
I really do wish I’d had a relationship with Him back then, but if that was supposed to happen that way, it would have. Regardless, we ALL have our struggles – no matter what age we come to know Him. I don’t regret any of where I’ve been, by the way, and I know what I would do differently in this Now, if I were that girl, but why waste time fretting over things that can’t be changed? I would have known where I stood and the check list below would have got my attention, hopefully before I’d sunk so low and nearly ruined my future. Even so, He still found me. And even so, I still managed to meet my husband (who was a Christian at the time, btw) and here we still are. 🙂
God still managed to set up circumstances so I not only graduated from college, but got full-ride scholarships for my Masters and PHD. I am toying with the idea of pursuing the doctorate in this Now. Mainly because I love to learn, and am interested in what I might not know. It’s also always felt a bit like a gift left unfinished, too. Dunno if I’ll do it, but it’s nice to think about the possibilities.
At any rate, since you DO know Him, or maybe at least know more about Him than I did, you’re off to a better start – if you choose it. The list below is your dare. Put a check next to each Biblically-based self-evaluation item. When you are done, look for the top two areas of opportunity for you. On Wednesday, come back here, and we’ll do the next thing, which is creating something out of this evaluation. Don’t be discouraged. Know the enemy will try to make you feel like a loser when you do this. Don’t. And remember, it takes maturity and a humble heart to take a good look at the truth about ourselves.
It’s also really unhealthy to jump into the “I’m worthless pit” when doing this, too. So hold onto HOPE, don’t be prideful, don’t give way to fear, and come back Wednesday. (Tomorrow I’ll have a post on dealing with a struggling husband).
- Do I spend consistent time in prayer daily?
- Do I read the Bible frequently?
- Do I daily make decisions based on what I think would please God?
- Is my heart daily filled with gratitude for all God has done for me?
- Am I humble about the talents He’s given me, neither being prideful, nor demeaning to myself, but instead thankful?
- Do I choose to live my life for God more than I am concerned about what other people think?
- Do I understand my need for the Holy Spirit living within me, guiding my steps, instead of depending on my own abilities?
- Do I seek God’s will in my life in the small things?
- Do I praise God multiple times during the day?
- When I make mistakes and/or sin each day, do I ask forgiveness readily?
- Do I forgive others or do I harbor resentment?
- Do I apologize and ask for forgiveness quickly when I’ve hurt or wronged another or does my pride get in the way, causing me to be defensive?
- Is He Alpha & Omega in my life – first at the beginning of my day, and last thoughts at the end?
- Is my relationship with God a living experience more than intellectual concept?
- Do I really believe He’s with me every moment?
- Have I received Christ as not only payment for my sins, but is He transforming me through a loving and growing relationship with Him?
- Do I regularly attend church and worship with others?
- Do I seek out interaction with my parents or older believers who can mentor me?
- Am I more concerned with being holy or making other people like my friends and parents like me more?
- Do I actively discuss spiritual things with others?
- Do I meet others “where they are at” instead of condemning them with criticism for their beliefs?
- Do I keep an open door as a good listener in relationships with people who are sinning in obvious ways?
- Do I help my friends and siblings navigate difficulty by going to the Bible?
- Do I do what is right and work at pleasing God instead of pleasing others, even when there’s a lot of pressure?
- Do I let others know (appropriately) what I am struggling with and ask for prayer?
- Do I apologize and seek forgiveness from others when I hurt them or am wrong? (yes, I know it’s in both places… 🙂 )
- Do I study the Bible consistently, more than in a church service or weekly Bible study, so I can know and understand the Truth?
- Do I pray with others on a regular basis when they are having difficulties, or do I think I know what they should do and give advice instead?
- Am I concise in my communication more than I ramble and go off on tangents?
- Am I considered a good listener?
- Do I handle conflict with a gentle and calm tone more than being emotional?
- Do others in my life consistently confide in me, or are they worried I am a gossip?
- Do I positively communicate more than I am critical or sarcastic when speaking?
- Do I know the difference between criticism and coaching?
- Do I encourage and support more than I criticize or correct others?
- Do I only share stories about others with their permission?
- Do I share about others in limited ways, and somewhat vaguely only when seeking advice or do I gossip?
- Do I have emotional control more than I react or judge when others open up to me?
- Do I daily point out things others have done well?
- Do my parents and my friends perceive me as a positive person more than a complainer?
- Do I seek feedback from others about my attitude and behavior towards them?
- Do I know how to encourage someone toward the Bible and listening to God?
- Do others consider me wise and seek me out for advice?
Confident and Assured Person
- Do I feel courageous enough to do what God wants me to do?
- Do others perceive me as confident and God-dependent rather than arrogant, aggressive, controlling, manipulative, timid, or fearful?
- Do I have a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline?
- Do I know God’s purposes for my life and trust He will help me succeed?
- Do I engage in difficult discussions in a healthy way, or do I avoid them or handle them aggressively?
- Am I confident in the decisions I make?
- Am I confident that God has things under control, so I have no need to manipulate others to make things happen a certain way?
- Do I apologize to my family members without making excuses or blaming someone else when I make mistakes?
- Can I receive criticism, praise, negative, or positive feedback about myself without letting it go to my head or make me upset?
- If someone confronts me with something, do I listen well, receiving their experience of me and apologize, or do I get defensive, explaining and justifying my actions.
- Do I own other people’s hurts and issues in an unhealthy way, or do I feel guilt, shame, or the pressure of making others feel happy when they don’t?
- Do my family members and friends trust me?
- Do I get 7-9 hours of sleep a night consistently?
- Do I eat a balanced diet consistently?
- Do I have healthy eating habits, or do I use food in unhealthy ways?
- Do I know what it means to eat right?
- Do I exercise several times a week?
- Do I see a doctor for well-me care? (annual pap, etc.)
- Do I consume alcohol responsibly, if at all?
- Do I seek help when I feel stressed, depressed, resentful or angry for a length of time?
What About You?
- What feelings or thoughts emerged from doing the evaluation?
- What do you think might have triggered the emotion or thoughts?
- Can those feelings and thoughts be trusted? Why or why not?
- Choose two areas that you feel most led to work on at this time? Why those?
- What would happen if you were able to grow significantly in those two areas in the next 40 days?
- What would that mean for your relationships with God, yourself, and others?
- Were there any items on the evaluation that struck you, ie: “not getting enough sleep deeply impacts me and I found it results in mental illness like depression,” etc.
Pray with me?
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, thank you for this Now. Help me SEE the way You do, not in judgment of myself, but rather in help and conviction, and love and acceptance. Thank You for making me the way You did, for showing me the Way, the Truth, the Light. Help me not be too hard on myself – help me see but opportunity and not criticism. Help me take those negative thoughts captive within my heart. Help me hear but Your voice, Your encouragement, the One that doesn’t shame me but rather motivates me toward change. Thank You for Jesus, it’s in His name I pray, amen and amen.
What are your thoughts? Can’t wait to hear from you today! 🙂 Did I miss anything?
And please know I don’t mean to imply anything about “works” – I fully believe in the Ministry of God’s grace – I also know that if we really believe what we say we believe, and we KNOW Jesus Christ – we will have “fruit” in our lives – that’s what the above is about. Want to learn more? Read this: James. Then come back and comment on what you think He’s saying to you today.
Love to you,
Are you parenting teens, tweens and twenty-somethings? Check out my 2 am-friend, Debbie’s blog and the new book!
Head over to Dare to Respect, a novel based on six wives who share the journey of taking all 40 Dares!
Thinking of leading your own small group through The Respect Dare, Dare to Respect, or With All Due Respect? Come to our Leadership retreat in September, 2017 and learn how!