I was enjoying a late-afternoon walk several days ago, thinking about where I might be in five years, when an enormously encouraging revelation struck me (thank you Holy Spirit).
Here it is:
I too often live my moments and days with a muted, nagging feeling — buried in my subconscious — that I’m not living up to the potential of my life… that I’m a disappointment considering what I “could” be… that a rain cloud of sorts hangs over my future because I’ll never quite be free of the struggles that haunt me today.
Sound like pessimism?
It’s not raging despair or a sense of utter failure. No, it’s a more subtle, — more acceptable, it would seem — version of self-pessimism than full-blown self-loathing. It’s an internal dimness, a propensity to compare my present life with the shiny “ideal” of what I think I “should” be. I’m never quite there; I can never arrive at that ideal — the mirage “me” that lingers just out of my reach: thinner, faster, smarter, more creative, more successful, etc.
And all this comparing and falling short occurs on a deeper layer than my conscious mind. I’m so good at failing to reach my own exorbitant standards, and expecting to continue failing to reach them, that I don’t even have to think about it anymore: there’s an entire section of my subconscious mind devoted to carrying out that deflating process without prompt.
Translation: I’m really, really hard on myself… and I color my future gray every time I compare my present self to the twisted, glossy ideal “me” I think I ought to be.
So… where’s the encouragement in this dismal revelation? Ah, I thought you might be wondering that. It enters here…
That “ideal me” is a lie.
It’s a clever, wicked ruse of the enemy to keep me permanently dissatisfied with who I am (always telling me who I ought to be instead, and how hopelessly far I am from becoming that version of me), to trap me in the muck of self-frustration and criticism, to make me inescapably self-centered, convincing me to live my life as if it’s a mild tragedy.
Now here’s the fantastic part: I don’t have to fall for it. The chains that bind me to that cycle of comparison and failure are made of air. They don’t exist. I’m no prisoner. I can stand up and walk out of the lie because the chains aren’t real, the prison doesn’t exist. There is no haunting, unattainable “ideal me.”
I am who I am, and — by the blood of Christ — I am the delight of heaven, the righteousness of God.
At this weight, with this level of talent, with these scars and wounds and flaws.
Why? Because I am who Christ is: He lives within me in all of His glory and fullness. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)
With what shall I compare myself? What “ideal me” can possibly exist to condemn who I presently am? Nothing in heaven or on earth can measure up to the glorious stature of Jesus Christ, and He has called me His beloved, His chosen one, His delight. He has given me His very identity.
So the tragedy of living in a rut of comparison and failure can become something else entirely… It can become a fairytale.
I exhort you with the same words I speak to myself:
Are you Christ’s? Then do not live as though your life is a tragedy. Live a fairytale. Child of God, gloom and failure do not await you at your story’s end — happily ever after does. You cannot ultimately be a failure because He never fails. Live and risk like you know that is true.