Today’s blog is a guest post by Rachel, a single girl teaching English in inner-city Memphis. You can find her at Why I…, her blog where she writes about anything that pops into her head, from television to theology to the weird things her dog does.
I am a procrastinator. Pretty much anyone who knows me can tell you this. In high school, I was the girl trying to read the entire APUSH chapter at lunch, one hour before the quiz. In college, I actually planned my all-nighters. I knew how long it would take me to write a paper, so I would just work backwards from the due date. 10 page research paper due at 9am? I would load up on coffee and start writing at 10pm. As a teacher, I often leave grading until the last possible second, particularly if I’m grading essays. I am a procrastinator.
But am I really? Is that some unchangeable part of who I am at my core?
Recently I have been learning a lot about the things I tell myself. There are so many messages about who I am swimming around in my head, and so often I believe those things are immutable aspects of my character. Some of the messages are things other have told me, while some are messages I tell myself. Some are not all that important (I am a procrastinator, I am a night owl, I don’t like the outdoors, I am a nerd), while others are a bit more damaging (I am lazy, I am the fat friend, I am socially awkward, I am the girl who struggles with depression).
I recently attended a six week class at church over the book The Search for Significance. (You need to read this book. I still haven’t actually finished it because I don’t always want to do the emotional work God and the author want me to do, but it’s really really excellent.) The class was an incredibly sweet time of prayer and reflection and being open with other women in the church.
It was through this class (and some other recent conversations) that I discovered the deep-seated, most damaging lie that I believe about myself: that I am not wanted, merely tolerated. This belief has informed so many of my decisions and relationships over the past 25 years, that it amazes me I didn’t see it before. I have lived most of my life as if that statement were true; as if that was really how God, my family, my friends, and even strangers thought of me.
The woman who taught the class encouraged us to be looking for messages from God. She was adamant that He was telling us how much He loves us in extremely specific and personal ways, all day, every day. She said she often got the messages from movies, pop music, and even billboards, and that all we had to do was look and listen and we would begin to receive those messages too.
I prayed and asked God to please send me some of these messages…and then promptly began ignoring them. I have had songs I wanted to hear come on the radio the minute I turned my car on. At least half of the devotional emails or blogs that I’ve read since then have been focused on the idea that God loves me and finds me beautiful. I have had friends actively pursue spending time with me, which is probably the biggest way I receive love (for all you 5 Love Languages people out there, I am definitely a “quality time” person).
What I can’t figure out is why I seem to be so insistent on ignoring these messages. I skim those blogs and devotionals. I do everything but spend time in prayer and the Word. I continue to let the negative messages inform my identity more than what I know to be true. I have so internalized those messages that I seem to be paralyzed at the idea of being anything else.
Am I the only who self-sabotages this way? I can’t be the only one…right? How do we break this cycle? How do we get truths we know in our head to truly penetrate our hearts and change our lives?
Right now, what comforts me is the knowledge that I have a God who will not stop sending me these messages. He is persistent in His love; His mercies are new every morning. I am His daughter and nothing can separate me from His love…not even my own stubbornness.