“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.” ~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
Once again, I’ve trapped myself in a terrible world of my own creation. It’s lonely here…and yet crowded with dissatisfied souls who’ve also found their way to this dark place. Everyone has her own reason for being here. Every reason begins with the same two deceptively simple words.
- I were a better me (thinner, prettier, richer, more charismatic, less shy…fill in your blank)
- I’d taken that well-spoken advice
- I’d left those words unsaid
- I’d been a better mother (wife, sister, daughter, friend…)
- I’d handled that pivotal situation with more grace
On and on it goes. Inmates within the walls of If Only share a sad, negative, defeated frame of mind. We live in a dark place of self-criticism and discontent. Even as I shrank into the gloom behind its impenetrable gates, my heart urged me to reconsider.
Because, you see, I know…
I know, as a child of Christ, I’ve been given helpful instruction in every area of my life, including what I think about. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
I know when my thoughts are negative and defeated, I can and must (with the help of Christ) bring them back to a place of joy, truth, and victory. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).
That I keep getting trapped in this prison reveals my tendency to lose sight of Christ. When I keep my eyes unwaveringly on Him, I think like He thinks. It is when I look away, when I look on the things of this world, that my thoughts grow negative and defeated. It is then that I start to wander toward ‘if Only’ … despite another thing that I know:
Every ‘if only’ I entertain creates another brick of heartbreak, another stone of regret. As I continue to collect them, they become high and strong barriers that hinder me from becoming who God created me to be.
If only I would stay close to my Father! While well within His light, and abiding in His Word, I never doubt that He loves who I am, right where I am, just as I am. He stands between me and this self-made prison of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlies.’
Yet even now, having lost myself again, my soul knows what to do. I must cry out to my Deliverer. He will lift me out of this prison, and take me to a better place.
- A place of liberty from the chains of societal molds and social expectations. “When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; He brought me into a spacious place” (Psalm 118:5, NIV).
- A place of assurance that despite human mistakes, I can continue to strive for Christ-likeness. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal… (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV).
- A place of knowing that, in Christ, I am perfect. Where He dwells, beauty abounds—not because of anything good in me, but because He is perfect, pure, and beautiful.
He loves me that much. Who am I to not love myself? If God finds me beautiful, how dare I believe that I am not? If my Father sees me as lovable in spite of all the things I wish I could change—all my ‘if onlies’—then how presumptuous of me to see myself as anything less than a forgiven, beautiful, beloved, royal child of the King!
Beyond my self-criticisms and derision…on the other side of my prison walls, God’s ‘spacious place’ awaits. A bigger, brighter, more beautiful dwelling place—without a single regret or condemnation.
I will lift my eyes to the Lord, and call His name. My God will crush the bricks that form my prison walls. He will take me to that spacious place.
My beautiful sister, lift up your head! Beyond this dark place is our Father’s glorious world of light and love. Come with me…we’ll go there together.
Let’s talk about this!
We all have lies we believe about ourselves and negative thinking we tend to not only entertain but feed. As Delia shared in her post, those thoughts can easily imprison us and get in the way of our living out who Christ came to be.
But we are wholly and deeply loved. We have a glorious and immutable purpose, and we are wonderfully and intentionally unique. Imagine what life would look like if we learned to consistently rest in and live out those truths?