In yesterday's post , Part I of this duet, I was all ready to button up the message (I thought) I had received, sharing some hard earned wisdom on negative self-talk. The idea that "words have power" is a strong one in my life, not only because I am a writer but also, because I've seen and experienced the affect words can have, especially in my work as a teacher.
Words can give life.
Words can destroy a life.
We each have that power with one another, yet none are so potent as the words we speak about ourselves. As I mentioned in Part I, we tend to believe what we speak.
What we call ourselves.
Predict of our futures.
It was at this juncture of the post that I was going to tell you to say good things and life would be peachy. And, of course, I believe that to a great degree. What I didn't count on was a dark experience that took my lesson in a profound direction.
We are living the 40 Lenten days before Easter right now. It is actually one of my favorite times of the spiritual year. You'd probably think I was weird if I shared that I actually enjoy depriving myself of things. But I do, so think what you must. It has everything to do with focusing my mind on the sacrifice Jesus made for us. For me, this is never easier to concentrate on than when I have a mental battle raging.
(Let's set the scene. It's the end of a long day. Everyone is in bed. Work is done and I have an hour to sit and unwind. I'm watching a television show, curled up on the couch under a blanket, and I've given up something for Lent...in years past, treats such as sugar, eating after 7PM, salty snacks...something, that is, which would make my television watching oh, so much more satisfying. Okay, action!)
Me the whiner: "I reeaaaaallllly want something to eat."
Me the faster: "Suck it up, Cynth. You gave that up for Lent."
Me the whiner: "But I'm huuuuunnnngggrrrry!!"
Me the faster: "Cut it out. You're a week in. 33 days left. You can't have it."
Me the whiner: "33 more days?!?!? How will I make it 33 more days?!?!?! I'm starving!!!"
Me the faster:
"Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins and you're complaining about being hungry after having three meals today?"
You see? There's nothing like Lent to give some much needed perspective, and that's why I like it. I need it. It's vital for my soul to make a small sacrifice, becoming centered on Him as we head into Easter.
(Except for the year that I gave up coffee. Truly, and I ask you trust me on this...that was good for NO ONE!)
Back to this year's Lenten promise. I didn't want to focus on food this year as I already have a rather unhealthy relationship with it at times. So I did the next best thing...the thing that I loathe almost as much as depriving myself of food.
I promised to get up each weekday morning at 6AM.
(Those of you who know how much I hate early morning may now remove yourselves from a laughing heap on the floor.)
Days 1 & 2, I jumped out of bed, shut off the alarm and made myself a cup of coffee, launching enthusiastically into the day.
Day 3 found my husband shaking me awake after my alarm had been sounding for several minutes.
Day 4 was Monday...you know, the first weekday after Daylight Savings?
So really, I was waking up at 5AM rather than 6AM.
Stupid, lying alarm clock...
I fumbled out of bed, snoozed once (don't judge me...there were no snooze parameters attached to my Lenten promise!), then stumbled down the hall to make COFFEE!!!!
The day progressed with both children staying home sick, a doctor's appointment and a list of 14 "to do's," only two of which got to-done.
It was about 6PM, Drew at a weekly band practice and the children and I in the den when "it" started...the rumblings of defeat....the sting of negative self-talk.
The problem was, it wasn't me talking (though at the time I thought it was)...it was an intense evil hissing in my ear, beginning to take me down.
I cannot adequately explain it, but a darkness enveloped me like I have rarely known. I felt at once catatonic yet close to tears.
Then the adverbs started. You know the ones?
As in, "You're never going to finish that app. I don't know WHAT in the world ever made you think you could!"
"You always quit. You always procrastinate. Why should this list of yours be any different than ones of the past? You are such a failure."
"Why are you looking at that house? If it hasn't happened by now, it never, ever will. You are destined to never move forward, never accomplish anything, never affect change. You're a dreamer and nothing more."
That last phrase thundered dramatically in my core. I kept my head down, buried in the computer screen in an attempt to hide from the children the malevolence that had taken hold. Though at the same time, it was such a dramatic internal change, I couldn't help but wonder if they could see it radiating from me.
I slowly got up and went into the bathroom...best. hiding. place. ever.
What was happening?!?
Thunder of a different sort arrived.
"Ahhhh, it's the exhaustion," it said loud and clear - not hissing and quiet - a transparency that could be attributed to no other.
Satan knows my weaknesses. Sickness and exhaustion. Never are there more fruitful times of surrender to weakness than when I am sick or tired. he had infiltrated my mind in the nausea of fatigue and changed his voice to that of my own.
I adjusted my perspective, my words in that moment.
I thought of what God called me, not of what satan does.
God calls me a warrior.
A daughter of the Most High King.
He calls me His precious child, His love and servant.
Enter the adverbs again, though this time used for reassurance rather than discouragement.
"He is always beside me."
"He will never leave me, nor forsake me."
As you move forward in this beautiful season of self-sacrifice, and yes, throughout the rest of your lives, I ask you to question:
What does God call me?
What do I call myself?
Oh, yes, words have power.
Words have the ability to destroy a life to be certain, especially when they are hurled at us through the venom of our enemy.
Yet, at their best and most true, words have the ability to speak grace...
build faith and joy.
Words, spoken with the voice of the Father, give us His bountiful abundance of life.
Thanks for reading this lengthy epistle.
Wow, just such a profound lesson for me.
I hope you were moved in some way by these "words."
Praying for you in this lovely Lenten season.