I’ve spent a lot of my life beating myself up. It’s an easy habit to fall into, and the way I saw it, it was well deserved. I should have had life easy; I’ve gotten half a dozen jobs because of who I know, not what I know. But for years, I felt like I was spending every single day getting it wrong, no matter what “it” might be at the time, from little things that didn’t really matter all the way up to big life decisions. So I was hard on myself. The way I talked to myself in my head was no way an adolescent should be treated by anyone, least of all themselves, and that only compounded the problem. The way our minds work, if we hear something said enough times, no matter if we logically know it isn’t true, we’ll begin to believe it. That’s how propaganda works. So I believed that I would fail: you can see how that might become a contributing factor to failure, right?
I spent a long time frustrated, and confused and just plain hurt. Why did God set goals I wasn’t going to meet? Why did He give me challenges I wouldn’t overcome? We’re always told that God doesn’t test us beyond what we can bear, but surely he had to know that even if I could succeed, I still wasn’t going to. Life just seemed like one big uphill battle I had no hope of gaining ground on. And the problem with an uphill battle is that even when you do make progress, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like you’re standing still, at best.
But it wasn’t true. It isn’t true. God wasn’t just feeding me through a constant blender of challenges I should be able to beat but wouldn’t. The frustration I felt at each misstep is no different than the frustration a paintbrush feels when each stroke doesn’t produce a finished masterpiece. It seems cartoonishly impatient to someone who can see the whole canvas, someone who knows just how many strokes it takes to produce any sort of meaningful image, but the brush can’t see the whole picture. I was looking at each day, each action or decision as a whole and complete on their own, a finished story. But God doesn’t see things that way. What seems like a failure to me may be entirely intended by God as an experience that will help me grow far more than any temporary success would.
I firmly believe that God does not see our lives as a series of successes and failures, a series of sins and virtuous moments. Each step is not a step up or down, but simply forward. When you reach the end of your journey, you’ll look back on your tracks and find that every time you stumbled, you were just blending the paint; adding shade and highlight to what is now a beautiful portrait of a life lived.
Remember, that the bible is a guide to living life as close to God as possible. When you act in accordance with the Word, you are acting as God would. Keeping that in mind, many verses take on new meaning:
“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:4)
By this standard, it’s obvious that you can lose every battle, and still, handily win the war. So be kind to yourself. You’re not doing nearly as bad as you might think you are.
Mason has followed Enspire Productions for upwards of ten years.