I turn on the TV and I see stylish, beautiful women on every channel. Most of them are thinner than I am, more toned, and probably a lot hungrier, too. I subconsciously take in these visuals and bury them somewhere in my mind. They become an unintentional reminder that I should really start working out, that I should stop eating Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Filets and leaning on Diet Coke and mini-Twix bars during busy afternoons. I tell myself to start working on changing my habits.
I go to church and I see families everywhere. Precious little girls in swirly dresses, rambunctious little boys and picture-perfect parents who stepped right out of a Gap advertisement. Smiles, joy, and an arm casually placed around the other’s back during worship. I sit alone voluntarily, because I like to. But I take these sights in and again, bury them deep in my mind as a reminder that I should really be working toward getting married. I should get on one of those dating sites (again). What’s wrong with me, anyway? Why is a great girl like me not married? I get asked that question all the time. I tell myself it’s probably because I’m not working hard enough at it. I’m probably not “putting myself out there” enough. I need to get going and do whatever I can to take steps toward marrying myself off. In one year I’ll be 30, and that’s the last year you can get married, right?!
I get on Pinterest and I see pregnant friends pinning baby products in grand fashion. Thousands of images of Bumbos, Baby Bjorns and Petunia Picklebottom baby bags litter my screen. I search for pins of low-calorie meals and start to unfollow all of the baby boards. I take mental pictures of the joyful expectancy of my pregnant friends and bury them in my mind. They serve as a reminder that I am behind schedule. According to culture, I am not truly successful at being an adult female unless I’ve birthed a child.
I come home from work and see my mom making dinner in the kitchen. That’s right—I live with my parents. I retreat into my basement bedroom, crammed wall-to-wall with furniture that once filled the townhouse I bought for myself. I hug my puppy and forget all about the fact that by my own efforts and savvy, I successfully bought and sold a home on my own, making a profit and paying off debts. I struggle to see past the fact that I am 29 and I live with my parents. I am a Millennial cliché. The media has shamed my generation for boomeranging back to our parents’ homes, and I carry that with me. I remind myself that I should really have purchased a new home, by now.
I share this honest inner dialogue with all of you because I know I’m not the only person who does this to themselves. Especially as we begin 2014 and are pressured to make resolutions, it’s so easy to immediately identify where we need to improve. We are incessantly hard on ourselves, beating ourselves down with each perceived failure, each area in which we lack, each moment we think we could’ve approached differently. We are never enough.
I find myself saying, “I should…” a lot these days. Over time, I’ve noticed that the more I place the pressure of should on myself, the more often my heart hurts. The heavier I feel. The more self-focused I become. I’m unable to access true, God-given joy. I can’t see past my own false shortcomings. We’ve all heard the famous quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and from personal experience, I can vouch for how true that really is.
This isn’t how God wants us to live. However, this is how Satan would love for us to live. Distracted, half-asleep, unmotivated and feeling condemned. It takes practice to learn to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit over Satan’s crystal-clear, negative proclamations in our ears. It’s no easy task—but a worthy and important one.
If we’re looking to TV and others to tell us we’re OK, we’ll never get the confirmation we’re looking for. There will always be an area in which we could improve in order to measure up with societally-imposed definitions of what is good, and what is enough.
If we look to God to tell us we’re OK, we will always get the confirmation we’re looking for. The tricky part is, you have to turn off the TV, the computer, and your easily-distracted mind to hear Him. He’s the quietest influence of all, and the only one speaking truth.
Recently, I’ve been hanging onto Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch that? There is no condemnation. None. It’s right there on the page in permanent ink: I am OK. No matter how long I live with my parents, no matter the number on the scale, no matter my marital status, no matter the status of my womb, no matter the amount of dollars in my bank account—I am enough. And deeply loved by the great big God of the universe. Right now. As is. And so are you.