Almost every day, but particularly every Monday morning, my first conscious thought is a taunt. I'm not quite awake enough to be able to quote it verbatim, but it goes something like this: "What are you going to do today to prove you're valuable?"
I wrestle to live according to the truth that I am a person of worth apart from what I produce or contribute, apart from my ability to perform. As I complained to a friend about not being able to create enough content for this space three times a week, she said, "Jenn, you have higher standards than anyone I know. By that I mean I don't know anyone who has standards like you have for yourself. You're going to have to learn how to lower them or you're going to burn out." She was right but I didn't like looking at that in the mirror.
My high standards were taking me to a very different place than I intended them to. They were breeding fear, not faith.
Brene Brown is a researcher who studies vulnerability and shame. In her latest book Rising Strong, she shares what she calls a "life hack" to help us discover the truth about something we're perceiving inside our heads when we begin to hear a message--like I did this morning--that triggers self-doubt, shame, and other negative thinking.
"The story I'm making up" can be inserted into any moment to give voice to inner turmoil and confusion. This morning, "the story I'm making up" is that I'm starting yet another Monday without a post ready and that I didn't have direction for the day. I was feeling afraid and worthless because I hadn't produced.
When I inserted "the story I'm making up" into this destructive swirl of self-doubt, the lies were interrupted and truth began to rewrite reality:
+"You are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms" (Deut. 33:27 and Elisabeth Elliott).
+"He delights over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17).
+"I never ever have to be afraid" from a song I'd sung the day before about God's enduring, unfailing love.
Truth set me free.
This life hack works for me because The Truth (John 14:6) that came to mind was given to me when I accepted Jesus' invitation into a personal connection with Him. My perfectionistic standards would have taken me to a very dark place today if I didn't know Him, and He invites you into this same unconditional love relationship. If you'd like to know more, I'd love to have a conversation with you. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.