Some of my most pivotal revelations come when I’m busy talking, and such was the case at a recovery meeting I attended recently. I was in mid-share when it occurred to me that at the heart of my mental illness is an erroneous equation: imperfect equals worthless. If you factor out this faulty formula, you conclude that anyone who assesses value to the imperfect is therefore either incompetent, misguided, or worthless themselves. Since I know better than anyone my own imperfection, I am, according to this mad science, worthless and so is anybody who says otherwise. This makes relationships with anyone difficult, since any other people who hold me in any esteem whatsoever are, as I have just proven, imbeciles; and because I am too faulty to be relied upon for any emotional support or camaraderie. This is the hub on which my self-pity wheel turns and on which my reward and punishment party wagon rides.
The clickety-clack of this wobbly wheel sounds like this: You deserve to eat what you want. You deserve to die a lonely death…early! You’ve had a bad day and need ice cream. You’re celebrating so we’re having a cake with your name on it. You’ve done well, and have won an edible prize. You made poo-poo in the potty and get candy! Maybe it does go back that far, but there is something wrong with my value estimator. Good behavior gets rewards! Ask Mother, my teachers, Santa Claus, my bosses, even (dare I admit) my misconceptions of God. I remember gagging just a little when I heard someone parrot that trite adage: “God don’t make no junk,” because I blamed Him for the mess I was, and there was no doubt about it – I was junk.
There is where I was at Step One: admitting that I was powerless over my problem and that the way I was living life was never going to work. I gradually became able to accept that if God says one thing and I feel another, the chances are God is more likely right than my feelings. After all, I had proved it with my food choices, and I could see it in my selfish defects too. My way is poison compared to God’s way which always brings life more abundant. I figured that “act as if” phrase just might fit me if I wore it on this particular point. Acting like God is right instead of me turned out to be the most pivotal change in my life. When someone turns that abruptly and goes the opposite direction, it’s referred to by a number of phrases: doing a one-eighty, an about face, or this one that sounds familiar to the religious circle – “repent.” I’d been a Bible-thumper for decades but was missing the repentance that is supposed to follow knowledge of the Giver of grace. I was the forgiven debtor of millions who beat his neighbor over a nickel owed (Matt. 18:21-25) and I believe it was because I was so convinced that, as an imperfect – and therefore worthless – person, I had to somehow make myself appear less worthless than everyone else so that I could at least, in that way, assuage some of my painfully disappointing worthlessness. Does that make sense? I doesn’t to me either, but I believe it to be a logical explanation of my insanity.
The truth is that if we believe we can be perfect on our own then we have made ourselves our god, and God is not in charge. That’s a disappointing experience, because I’m even worse at being a god than I am at being a human. The whole idea of a higher power is that mine ought to be higher than me, not even worse at his job than me, so I needed to terminate me from my position as my own higher power due to unquestionable incompetence. Once I let God have His seat on the throne of my life and really started trying to do what I understood He wanted rather than what I wanted, things began to turn around and fit almost like they were designed to go that way by a highly intelligent Creator. Amazing!
It turns out that God never expected me to be perfect, but He did design me to crave perfection so that I would seek Him out. You see, only He is perfect, and He shares Himself with those who seek Him. He is also a bit of a mosaic artist, taking the shattered pieces of my life and arranging them perfectly to suit His grand design so that every torn edge and ragged shard has a place and a purpose. Nothing is wasted, and none of it was ever junk!
Dear Father, today, help me to remember that You are the Creator of creation, the Breather of life, the Redeemer of broken things, the Orchestrator of circumstances, and the Source of all hope. With You in charge, I have nothing to fear. If you forgive, who, including me, can convict me? I choose to live in Your grace rather than my wrath. Thank You for freeing me from me. Please do it again tomorrow.