Fair warning for anyone new to the blog: I’m going to talk about God in this post. If you’re a person who thinks medical doctors should leave their faith at church and just focus on physical health, please stop reading and wait for next week’s post.
When I was a child, I wasn’t particularly popular. I had friends but was a bit shy in groups and tended to be socially awkward. (Yep, I know, I can still be socially awkward…) I was most comfortable one-on-one with a good friend. Isn’t it funny that I wound up with a career that generally is a series of one-on-one encounters?
Anyway, I was targeted by bullies in elementary school. On the bus, at recess, sometimes even in class right under the teachers’ noses. To this day I don’t understand how the bullies knew just what to say to get under my skin.
The good news is I had (and still have) wonderfully supportive parents. I would come home upset, angry and hurt, and embarrassed because there was a small part of me that wondered whether the mean things the bullies said about me just might be true. Once my mom or dad was able to drag it out of me, they always were able to help me see that it WASN’T true, and that I was a good and smart and worthwhile person.
Did you know that sometimes your own mind can be a terrible bully too?
Think about it. Think back to the last time you made a mistake. Maybe it was something stupid and careless like losing your wallet or your phone. Maybe it was a bigger deal like forgetting to pay the credit card bill or bouncing a check. Maybe it was a REALLY big deal like a car accident.
Did you find yourself beating yourself up about it? Calling yourself stupid or worse? Casting doubt in your own mind about whether you’re REALLY a good and smart and worthwhile person?
I received an emailed blog post from Dani Johnson not long ago that crystallized an idea, a very deep truth that resonated with me. You can read that blog post for yourself here. I’d like to share that with you today, hoping it will help you get out of the habit of giving in to the bully in your head.
The truth is that not every thought in your head is really YOUR thought.
If you have been reading my blog for awhile you know I have a very strong faith in God. God also has an Enemy who thoroughly enjoys creating strife and pain and fear among God’s children. The Enemy can plant the seeds of painful doubt in your mind.
The truth is that I am as susceptible as the next person to self-doubt. Am I a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter, a good friend, a good doctor, a good coworker, a good employee, a good teacher? All the roles I play in my life and all the juggling I do frequently results in me feeling like I’ve shortchanged someone or something important.
After reading that post from Dani, which honestly came at just about the perfect time in my life, I learned that just as my parents helped me see those stupid bullies’ words for lies when I was a child, I have someone who can help me see the Enemy’s words as lies too.
God will help. When I was doubting myself and wondering whether I was really “good enough,” worthwhile enough, I practiced praying. After all, we are human and do make mistakes. Feeling bad about it can be healthy, a reason to be more careful and avoid making that mistake again.
Feeling bad because you made a mistake can too easily slide into feeling bad about YOURSELF, though, feeling worthless, stupid, fat, ugly, and lots of other hurtful descriptions that should never be allowed inside your own mind.
Next time you find yourself feeling bad about yourself because you made a mistake, try this prayer. “God, if this thought is from You, I accept it. I trust You to help me find a way to make it right and avoid this problem in the future. If this thought is NOT from You, I reject it and banish it to Hell where it belongs.”
Pay attention to how you feel immediately after saying this prayer in your mind. Do you feel better? I did. And in fact I was able to see the problem more clearly in a constructive way, to plan steps to improve the situation that was making me feel bad in the first place.
We have a mighty God whose power outshines that of the Enemy, but we have to ask Him for help. The Enemy is sneaky and never agreed to wait for permission to mess with us. God loves it when we run to Him and ask Him to give the Enemy a good swift kick and send him back to Hell with all his tricks. He won’t stay there for good, but with practice it gets easier to recognize the voice of the Enemy.
Like a child who runs home crying to her mother because the neighborhood bully said mean and hurtful things to her, you have someone to run to when the Enemy or your own mind start bullying you. Turn to God the Father. Just like a mother who reassures her child that she is good and smart and loved, the Father says that YOU are good and smart and loved beyond imagining.
QUESTION: Do you struggle with self-doubt? Does prayer help?