Have you ever had a really good day or week and STILL felt like a complete and utter failure?
Ok, you know me already…you KNOW I know those feelings are just an illusion…False Evidence Appearing Real. I know that I am a most beloved child of God. I know His love surrounds me, His heart is for me, His eyes are upon me, His arms hold me and His hands provide for me. As long as I am doing the things to which He’s called me with all I have in me, I am a resounding success, no matter what it looks like or feels like.
Yeah, all of that is cool and everything, but what do you do with the FEELING?
The feeling that produces mournful isolation; that kicks at your hope; that bypasses all of your progress and positive actions to focus on and blame you for the things over which you have no control. What do you do with THAT?
I punch it out with heavy-handed thanks.
I have had a particularly vicious attack against my soul this week. Nobody in particular. As a matter of fact, nobody at all. It’s been in my head. The great battlefield of the mind. I’ve been frightfully lonely and insecure. Too many things that ‘should have been’ have made heavy foot traffic in my imagination. Too many internal suggestions as to why things aren’t happening fast enough they way I had hoped were weighing heavily upon me. I have had conversations in my head so out of control I literally had to say aloud, “No, I DO NOT believe you just said that!” A co-worker had to look around to see who I might be talking to! My spirit was having a really hard time with it all. People who love me dearly have checked me and checked on me with care and concern.
Side note: This is one of the reasons why living a transparent life and being prayerfully selective about who you let into your ‘inner court’ is so beneficial. When you aren’t being quite ‘yourself,’ those people pray for you and they talk to you (as opposed to talking about you). There are a few people that came to me and asked me about my tone of voice and my verbage, or took the time to kindly express that I had value to them. Let me take this moment to say a simple thank you to Miranda, Virginia and Tim. They may have seemed like simple words, but to me they were apples of gold in pitchers of silver.
My responses to them were knee-jerk thank yous, right in those moments. And in those moments, I realized how much more there was to be grateful for. (Ironically, as I am typing, my mp3 player pops on Yolanda Adams, singing “Thank You.” Yeah…God’s got jokes.)
It then occurred to me how Elijah must have felt hiding in a mountain cave, wishing to die. He just needed something to be grateful for.
Gratitude is infectious. You start to find things to be grateful for and you will feel the sting of what seem to be failures less and less. You may even begin to recognize those occasions of failure as opportunities for growth. So much so that you may find yourself sharing those things that made you feel like a failure with those around you, not out of arrogance or shame (which, incidentally, are two sides of the same coin), but out of gratitude for what you learned from the experience.
Do you know how hard it is to be miserable and grateful at the same time? There is something to be said for gratitude as form of spiritual warfare. It is, in fact, an awesome line of defense. It works very well in conjunction with laughter. I have had laugh out-loud moments this week with the dynamic duo (my sons), I’ve done some things at work, in the middle of my misery, that have made my coworkers laugh out loud. Which, in turn, had me laughing at myself! It’s amazing how funny your own behavior can be, when looking from the right perspective.
I have had some really awesome days at work, I have had some pretty heady personal and professional experiences apart from work. I have needed people and they’ve been there for me. People needed me and I’ve been there with a word in due season. None of that would have been possible if we all had not made it through some difficult times with the help of God. The point is WE MADE IT OUT ALIVE and now we can help each other through the next phase. That alone is something to be grateful for.
Hold onto your gratitude. The life you save may be your own.