every year i make the same new years resolutions. i am really quite pathetic. i always say “okay this year i am going to work out at least 3-4 days a week, stop eating carbs, lose 15 pounds, be more on top of my friend’s birthdays, and clean my house more regularly.” usually within a few days of january 1st i have already found an excuse why i can’t work out, eaten a whole bag of salt and vinegar chips, and significantly added to my mounting pile of clothes & things to put away instead of making a dent in it. within a week i always feel like a loser.
i have an extremely mean & cruel voice in my head, one that tells me that i always fall short, screw it up, embarrass myself, and when things go wrong it must somehow be my fault.
jose calls it the “devil thoughts” and can’t quite understand why i listen to the voices and lean into them. it’s not that he doesn’t have the mean voices, too. he readily admits he does, but they are so much quieter and somehow he can manage them much better than me. mine are so loud, relentless, accessible. they are best at making me feel shame, stupid, wrong. and i act out of them more often than i’d like. this looks like being defensive when i don’t need to be, spending inordinate amounts of time replaying moments and experiences and picking them apart, and basically becoming utterly and completely self-centered in my thoughts.
it is the biggest time-waster, life-stealer, hope-drainer i could possibly imagine.
i know the enemy’s job is to “steal, kill and destroy”. he is a thief and he knows exactly how to rob me of peace. he preys on my distorted views of the christian life like none other. and frankly i am sick of him. but i’m not going to blame it all on him, either. i take a lot of responsibility for leaning into the mean thoughts because i am addicted to approval & perfection. this means that i struggle to just be. to mess things up. to not hit it right. to not get the praise i want in certain stupid moments and be okay with it. to rest in knowing i am just an average person doing the best i can. i have wasted far too much energy in my first 40 years listening to the mean voices. so this year here’s the only thing i am going to try to focus on, a resolution of sorts for 2008: “strain to hear the kinder voices”.
Jesus’ voice is too quiet in my head too much of the time.
i want to be like the sheep in john 10, they know his voice, and they listen to him. his true voice is one that brings life, hope, conviction without shame & guilt. when the mean voices roar, i know the spiritual discipline of “taking some of the thoughts captive”. sure, it helps a little. i also am thankful for safe community where i can say these things out loud and they completely understand; it definitely lessens the din. but bottom line is i’m sick of the mean voice. this year, i’d love to have a little quicker & better radar that picks up the good signal first…the gentle voice, the balanced voice, the realistic voice, the good shepherd’s voice, the voice that makes me laugh at myself, the voice that reminds me to notice the joy & beauty & God’s grace in the midst.
i am pretty sure i’m not the only one who is familiar with the mean voices (please tell me i’m not!) so here’s my hope for all of us this new year. let’s strain to hear the kinder voices.