I always love listening to our pastor’s talks, ½ because he speaks truth with a realness that is refreshing, and ½ because his pleasant English accent lulls my anxious heart to rest for 30 minutes. Yesterday, I arrived at church in a funk. I sat down and grabbed the notepad in front of me, expecting to write my own heart on paper and zone out for the entirety of church, but I was surprised at the notes I was feverishly scribbling from Al Hardy’s talk. I realized as I flipped my sheet to the backside, that he was speaking of the very thing I was longing to spat all over the page anyhow. My heart was suffocating and whispering, “the world is sucking the life out of me.” My mind was dizzy with thoughts that were shooting darts at my heart: “You’re not good enough, Jo. You’re not likeable. You don’t have your shite together. You need to spend more quality time with your kids. You need to be prettier. You need to be a better wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister…” And then this from Al, cutting my thoughts with a knife, “The voice of the world is so loud and so persistent, and the voice of God is so quiet…if we want MORE of what God has for us, we have to want less of what the world has for us.” Bam. My heart was stilled. My mind was captive.
The “voice of the world” in my life takes form in many ways, but as an example of what I’m talking about, I will narrow it to one of my many pitfalls…Facebook. Seven months ago, I resolved to take a two-month sabbatical from it. I wanted to take a break from the world (or at least the social media part of it) while we moved across the country and settled into our new home. It was energizing and soul-healing. It’s not that I spend a lot of time on Facebook, it’s just that the time that I DO spend on there is usually spent reading articles about how/how not to raise my kids, or about all of the wholesome nutrients and unicorn dust that’s in the organic food we can’t afford to buy, or the time spent worrying that I posted something dumb and nobody will like me anymore. What. What. WHAT?!! When I break this down and really think about it, it’s all nonsense, but in that moment when I read about the toxic baby carrots that I feed my kids, I am consumed by it. A little piece of me drifts off to join the world and forgets what truly matters.
When I was ready to visit the world of Facebook again, I told myself that I would check it once per day. That happened for maybe two days. And then this happened: post something…check it…nobody likes me…check it again…okay, phew, a few people DO like me…check it again…you get the picture. Disgusting. I am finally getting to the place where I really don’t care how many people “like” my crap on Facebook, but it has taken time. When it comes down to it, I post things for my far-away family and close friends to see so we can keep up with each other. I don’t know how it becomes this mind game to see how many people like me, but it does. Stop judging me. Stop it.
I know that Facebook may not be your area of struggle, but you know what your thing is, and it is something ugly and real.
“If we want more of what God has for us, we have to want LESS of what the world has for us.” If my identity is wrapped up in something that is sucking my life and zapping my joy, then it is probably less than what God has for me. So what to do? (I am processing this as I write, so feel free to add your own step if I miss something…)
- (1.) Pray. This is one of the hardest things for me to do. I have no idea why, but I feel like finding the time and energy to pray is like pulling my teeth. Here’s what I know: you just have to do it. Just pray. When my heart is aligned with God’s heart for me, I am far less likely to pursue the vast emptiness that the world offers.
- (2.) Pinpoint the life sucker. What makes you feel gross inside? It could be as simple as a thought pattern or as complex as an addiction. Mine happens to be anything that threatens to collapse my sensitive self-esteem. It took me a while to pinpoint what was making me feel gross, and then I realized it was rather a broad generality. (Meaning: I am extra messed up.) 😉
- (3.) Find accountability. Who do you admire and think well of? Ask her/him to coffee. Tell her your struggles, listen for sound advice, and then apply it to your life. Now someone else knows your struggle and can help you stay on track. There is something so FREEING when you confess something ugly to a friend and she says, “Me, too. I struggle with something similar.” So in the case that you may not feel up to sharing your personal garbage with a friend just yet, let me be the one to tell you, “ME, TOO. I struggle with something similar.”
- (4.) Eliminate the yuck. Though it takes practice, and time, and probably failure along the way, you can overcome this. If you mess up, pull up your bootstraps and start again. “It is incredible how loud and demanding the world is and the only way to lay hold of the grace, love, joy and peace the Lord brings is if we make our stand against it- MORE of God= LESS of the world.” –Al Hardy
- (5.) Pray. “Just keep
swimmingpraying, just keep swimmingpraying.” -Dory the fish (well, kind of.)
As my accountability partners, I am telling you all that I am going to check Facebook once per day, for 10 minutes. If I continue to let it suck my life away, I will have to take another sabbatical. Extreme? Perhaps. However, I really want more of what God has for me and less of what the world has, and I need to be intentional about overcoming my yuck. Thank you for journeying this messy thing called life with me. I love to hear your stories, so keep ‘em coming.
“You keep him in perfect PEACE whose mind is stayed on YOU, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36