When I was a teenager I had my heart broken for the first time. I was ‘dumped’ for another girl and in my immature mind I wondered, “what is wrong with me?”
The root of that thought went deep into my heart and, because I never spoke it out loud, no-one ever corrected me on it. Thus a neural pathway was formed, and over the years, it became a deeply worn, comfortable groove.
When I was in my 20’s and all my siblings and friends began getting married, and it seemed I could only attract first dates and the odd short-lived boyfriend but no husband, that familiar thought often came to mind, “what is wrong with me?” With the relentless dialogue unchecked, new thoughts were added, “I am missing out” and “I’ve failed.”
So constantly would that voice whisper in my ear that it coloured my view of the world around me. It affected the way I behaved and warped my sense of self. I did not believe I was the person others said I was, least of all, the person God said I was, because the voice in my head was louder and more familiar, and frankly, I had become comfortable in seeing myself the way I always had. I didn’t understand my thoughts were a choice.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m married to a man who loves me, I have three healthy, beautiful daughters, but somehow, those same thoughts still play over and over in my mind, “what’s wrong with me?” “I’m missing out”, “I’ve failed in life.”
After all, at present I don’t own my own home, and at present I am not feeling fulfilled by my career. At present I’m not in the best physical fitness nor do I feel as successful or happy or together as my friends look to be on social media! You see, the situation has changed completely, but the thoughts and feelings are exactly the same.
Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t things I usually articulate out loud. This is my personal narrator, speaking into my ear, incessantly; sometimes quietly, sometimes screaming so loud my heart races in panic and anxiety. For the most part I can cover what’s going on in my head with a confident smile, a deflection, a happy post on Instagram, but this voice is my constant companion.
The bible says in Proverbs 23:7, ‘As a man thinks in his heart so is he…’ So although I may appear otherwise, although you may say otherwise, I know there is something wrong with me, I know I am missing out, I know I’ve failed at life, purely because these are the thoughts of my heart. And you know what, this will always be the case until I decide to change the way I think.
For my 40th birthday I was given a piece of jewellery by some friends, a bracelet engraved with the words the journey is the reward… I appreciated the gift at the time, but it has taken me a number of years to really let those words sink in and to value the sentiment behind them. Because to really take those words on board means I have to forfeit my comfortable (albeit, warped) way of thinking. The notion that someday I’ll arrive at my destination- getting married, having kids, buying a house, having a fulfilling career, losing weight… (insert your own narrative here)- and then I’ll be content, because finally I’ll have succeeded. When I get to that place, I’ll no longer be missing out, I’ll have proved myself and I’ll be happy.
In Deuteronomy 30:15-19 Moses tells the people that set before them is life and death. He then implores them, before they enter into the promised land, to choose... choose life!! If choosing life was easy he wouldn’t need to implore them. In fact, death is the easy part. As soon as we are born we are on a journey towards death. It’s a certainty, it’s our natural default. We make choices between life and death every day. Choices to build up or tear down our relationships, choices to eat to fulfil the craving or eat to nourish our bodies, choices to satisfy a desire or to show self-control, choices to think a certain way or to change our thoughts. We may not be choosing a literal death, but each choice takes us further onto a path of spiritual life or death.
Truth is, I don’t want to be 60 or 70 or 80 and to have the same recording play over in my head; heck I don’t even want to be 45 and a half! I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realise I’ve wasted it believing (and living) a childish lie. To find out I could have had a life, an abundant, prosperous, blessed life, had I chosen to shut down the ‘chatterbox’ in my mind and to believe instead what God says about me!
1 Cor 13:11 says, ‘When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things…’ I am called to grow up! To move on from my childish thoughts and to listen to, and believe, the voice of God instead. It takes discipline, it takes strength, and sometimes it takes courage, to stop believing in the lie, the words people have spoken over us, the voice that has been our comfortable constant companion, and to start living out of God’s truths instead!
This is the journey. This is the reward… “Oh that you would choose life!”
‘The voice you believe will determine the future you experience’ – Steven Furtick (Crash the chatterbox)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donna has had many career incarnations throughout her lifetime. From working in Film/TV to magazine publishing to proof reading, editing and copy writing, she is also a qualified Interior Stylist and Colour Consultant. She often thinks of herself as a gypsy, roaming careers and creative pursuits and trying somehow, to connect them all! There’s one role however, that keeps her grounded, and that is motherhood. Donna has three gorgeous daughters, Sabine - 12, Claudia - 7 and Elsie - 4, who keep her on her toes and secretly wondering if ‘taxi driver’ should be added to her careers list! She loves to escape in a good book, and has a secret desire to pen a few of her own!!