I do not remember a time in my life when my Dad did not tell me, “they can’t make you feel that way. You choose how you’re going to feel about it.” This statement of wisdom I remember most profoundly in my sophomore year of high school when I had a nasty spat with a couple girlfriends. While emotions, hormones and gossip were flying I went home everyday from volleyball practice feeling rejected, unwanted, and bruised to my core by these girls. And every time the conversation turned to that topic with the whole family my Dad would remind me that nobody can make me feel a certain way. The way I feel is a choice of my own. If somebody says something mean or hurtful, I get to choose to let it pierce me down deep or let it roll of my back.
I believe this is harder for women than for men. Or maybe it’s just certain women and men that I am relating that to. My Dad, being the tough guy Marine that he is doesn’t let things bother him. To this day I watch him run to Lowe’s on a Saturday in his grass-stained jean shorts, work boots and cowboy hat and he could care less who he runs into or what the cashier gal thinks of his outfit. While the outfit may not be the most stylish thing it is a symbol of my Father to me. It is a symbol and a reminder to me that he doesn’t care what others think and will not let their potential thoughts of him affect him or his day.
Now, this does not mean he let’s everything run off his back. Obviously, some things bother him too. But none-the-less, he has always been the encourager in our home that we always have the choice on how we will let others make us feel.
This morning during my quiet time, as I was journaling and praying and allowing my thoughts to run freely through my pen on the empty lined paper, I came to a small realization that reminded me of this simple but profound encouragement that my Dad has drilled into me. I’ve been dealing with some feelings of failure these past two weeks. Feelings of failure, primarily as a wife to my sweet husband. At no fault to him, but as an example; on a rare occasion he may say something about the dinner I have prepared, or am about to prepare, he may state that he wishes it were something else or that it won’t fill him up because today he is REALLY hungry, or something along those lines that is completely harmless and suddenly the words have hit my soul and I feel like an utter failure that my meal choice has not completely satisfied and delighted him. And these past two weeks I have been feeling that my meal choices, cooking, housekeeping, financial contribution, conversation etc… have been terribly unsatisfying to him. But that is a lie. He has gently told me that I am crazy to feel that way and that the feelings are entirely un-called for. I know this in my head, but I am still fighting the feelings.
As I journaled about this today I blamed the feelings on him. I noted that it’s things he’s done and said that make me feel this way and I’m just going to have to buck up and learn to get over it. But that simply is untrue and I was wrong to choose to feel that way. The truth of the matter is that I’m allowing these thoughts that I am a failure to creep into my mind and nest there. On top of allowing them in, my attempt to rid myself of them has been mild. I have been trying to push the thoughts aside rather than put them to death. The difference is that if I put them aside, they are welcome to try to come back to me. If I put them to death then I destroy them completely and they are no longer permitted in my mind to control my feelings of worth.
Rather than blame my husband for things he does that I dislike, it is my job to change my attitude and make sure that my thoughts, emotions, and worth are Christ centered. It is my job entirely to make sure that I do not let the enemy’s lies creep into my mind and make a little nest there in the corner somewhere.
My own shortcomings are all over my home. I can see them loud and clear on a daily basis. But it is my choice, through scripture-based prayer, how my failures are going to make me feel and direct my day. And that goes for something my husband does or says that makes those feelings come on me as well.
I believe the concept of “positive thinking” has been misconstrued. If our hearts are focused on God and our heads are focused on scripture then thinking positively is a side effect. It is a result of something being done, not a clench-your-fists-and-just-do-it thing. If I am constantly connecting with God emotionally through prayer and worship and intellectually by hiding His Word in my heart then there will be no room in my mind for lies to nest or feelings of failure to reside within me. I will know my worth as a daughter of the King and nothing will be able to deter me from that constant attitude and knowledge. My daily feelings will be based on the gratitude I have for God sending His Son to save me because despite anything else, HE thought I was worth it. No matter how much I fail in a day, or a week, no matter how emotional I am or how many simple or unhealthy meals I fix, no matter if I don’t finish the to-do list, no matter if I was not the very best I could be that day…HE still thinks I’m worth it. He still thinks I’m beautiful, and lovely. He still desires me.
I encourage you to begin memorizing scripture. The only way to kick those lies out of your thoughts is to know the Word of God and be able to fight lies with Truths.