Monday, October 1, 2012

STOP: The Complaint Box is Full!

     Quite honestly, I can only take so many complaints and criticisms at a time, and, right now, my inbox is full to overflowing.  For one thing, I am my own harshest critic, so I have several slips of paper that are permanently stacked on the inside of the complaint box taking up a good quarter, maybe even a half, of the space that’s in there.  Chances are pretty good that many of the judgmental things you want to say to me are already in the box, so let’s not waste paper and be redundant restating things that have already been said.
     Okay, that’s not quite fair.  You don’t really know which complaints are already in there, so I’ll give you a smattering of some of the most popular ones and/or those most frequently repeated: “You’re not a good listener…You’re always so negative…You don’t take criticism well…You’re selfish…You need to slow down…You worry too much…You’re too serious…You’re too sensitive…You spend too much time reading…You spend too much time on the computer…You’re too critical…You need to remove all the “shoulds” from your vocabulary…You need to lighten up…You ought to relax…You need to stop being so hard on yourself!”
     That last one is one of my favorites, since it seems to be the most important to remember when others are so quick and thorough in reminding me of all the ways I’m a failure. 
     I’m not saying that I disagree with the criticisms above.  Many, if not all, of them are probably true, at least to some extent.  What I’m saying is that I get it.  I’m not who you want me to be.  Here’s a newsflash for you: I’m not who I want me to be either.  Actually, we agree on much of this, so there’s no need to stage a full-out attack.  We’re on the same side.  
     In the past couple weeks, I’ve been thinking, praying, and writing to process things.  This is some of what I have been considering: Is it enough that God loves me?  Yes, I believe that deep down that is enough.  When I’ve been stripped of anything and everything I once saw as strengths or admirable qualities, I’m left only with a certainty in His love for me, not because I feel loved or lovable, but because He’s blessed me with a knowing that I am even when everyone around me and the many lies inside of me seem to scream that’s not the case. 
     There are times when it feels like my life is useless, but when I ask God if that’s the case, the answer that comes to me is always: “No, not at all.”
     I know I am more to God than the sum of my useful abilities and actions.  Gifts given to me by God which I offer back to Him in service of others can be made useful, holy, and, through God’s grace, bring others closer to Him. 
     It shouldn’t matter to me what others think as long as I’m carrying out God’s will and using my abilities as He wants, for whom He wants, when and how He wants. 
     Lord, help me turn to You to get an accurate view of who I am.  I can be so easily confused, hurt, and discouraged by my own thoughts and feelings as well as those of people closest to me.  You alone know everything about me, yet you love me unconditionally.  Help me be better about accepting that love and mercy, correction and guidance, so that I am a better vessel of it for others.  Amen.
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