I was inspired the other day by the words emblazoned on my iced coffee the other day…”Life is getting up an hour earlier to live an hour more.” But getting up an hour earlier to live what kind of life? If I’m waking up an hour early to live an hour more, it better be a courageous, authentic, joy-filled life…otherwise the snooze button will win every time! You see, I’m ready to LIVE my life for real, without the added superfluous shame of self-condemnation and the annoying “shoulda woulda coulda” thought pathways.
So, I’m starting by cutting the word “should” out of my vocabulary. It’s such a guilt-ridden, doubt-causing, stress-inducing word for me. “I should work out today.” “I should clean the house.” “I should call…” “I should organize my closets.” Even worse than “should” is “should have” or “shouldn’t have”. Ouch! Talk about regret and shame! An unspoken accusal rings out after such statements… “I should’ve worked out today (I’m such a lazy person).” “I shouldn’t have read that book when there was laundry to fold (couch potato!).”
Instead, I’m going to start using positive, bright words like “shall” and “will” and “want to”! (“I shall clean out my closets (with gusto!)!” “I want to work out today, and I will!” “I will take time for myself and not feel guilty about the laundry!”)
Wow, I’m feeling better already! I hope it’s contagious! I see so many women walking around with a huge boulder of guilt and shame on their shoulders…and as Apostle Paul once said, “this ought not so to be!” And I hear them talk, and their speech is full of shame-inducing, stress-provoking words (like “should” and “I wish I would have” and “I’m such a…” or “I’m so…”).
Enough, ladies!! Enough self-condemnation, shame, and self-pity. Don’t we remember that the battlefield is in the mind?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
II Corinthians 10:3-5
Every word that we speak is directly related to what we have been thinking about and dwelling on. There was a large poster stapled to one of my classroom walls in junior high that quoted a Chinese proverb,
“Be careful of your thoughts, for they become your words. Be careful of your words, for they become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for they become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for they become your character. Be careful of your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
I think that Jesus said it best in the Gospels:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:45, NET
Out of the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks.
What is in your heart? Self-hatred? Self-pity? Self-condemnation? That used to be my heart! Even growing up as a believer in a loving, Christian family, I struggled to love myself. Even more, I didn’t know how God could love me. I knew logically that I couldn’t be perfect…that it wasn’t humanly possible…but I felt that I needed to attain to a higher standard than the rest of, well, humanity…and be as perfect as possible. Never sin, never fall, never hurt anyone’s feelings, never lose a relationship…
Hello self-condemnation, shame, and fear of failure. Hello, perfectionism!
My thoughts were filled with “I should”, “I must”, “I can’t”, “I can’t believe I…”, “I’m so…”
It was a mess. And that’s where I see so many women today!
Ladies, it’s time to check your words. And it’s time to check your thoughts.
Instead of thinking, “How can God love me? I’m such a bad person!”, pull out His Book of Love and search it out for yourself! Go beyond John 3:16, beyond verses about God loving the world…I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to believe that He loves the world. The tough part is connecting the dots from GOD and THE WORLD to “lil’ ol’ me”.
As you read those verses on God’s love, replace all of the “us” and “they” and “Israel” and “Romans”, etc….with your name! We know that all of the promises in the Bible are for us, just as much as they were for the children of Israel and the church in Rome, but replacing their names with yours makes them all come alive like never before.
I’ll get you started:
Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus [my] Lord.
Romans 8:35, 38-39, NKJV
This is love: not that I loved God, but that he loved me and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for my sins.
I John 4:10, NIV
But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved me, Even when I was dead (slain) by [my own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made me alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
Ephesians 2:4-5a, AMP
Or how about Psalm 23?? And Psalm 139? God is consumed with His love for you! Think on it. Meditate on it. Read about it. Put post-it notes up all over your house if you need to…until you truly believe it. Because when you do, your thoughts will change… and your speech along with them.
Remember the words of Apostle Paul:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8, NKJV
Meditate on these things. Instead of your regular “should woulda coulda” thoughts and words, think on His “great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved you“! Read Psalm 139 and find out more about the attention that he gives your every move. That sounds like love to me! How can we not change our thoughts and speech when we’re full of that kind of love?
“Lord Jesus, I pray that You would burn every negative thought out of me and fill me with Your truth! Replace every lie of the enemy with the truths of Your Word. Help me to meditate only on things that are true, beautiful, just, pure, and holy, and to speak only life-giving words! I reject every lie of the enemy and I receive Your love for me today. Fill me with more and more of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”