Is this chart looking familiar?? The sine-curve is back to illustrate yet another point.
Only this time it is not about your blood sugar.
I am sick and tired of getting to the end of a perfectly wonderful day, and feeling, well, blech. I am well into my thirties, and still hung up on some of the same things I have been for more than half my life now.
I wish I looked differently.
I wish I had a higher 1RM deadlift, or mile time.
I wish I had thought of a more innovative recipe than “Lara-balls.”
That Restoration Hardware couch really would probably make everything better.
I wish wish wish wish wish…….
Why?! I did some soul searching last night to try and decipher: where does all this malcontent come from? It comes wave upon wave for me. I am up with confidence, then down with doubt. Then I am back up…and oh crap now I am back down. I am sick of it.
Whenever I need to soul-search, I go away from all the noise, make sure there are no other distractions while I ask myself and God, “What is going on in me?” After only about three seconds into the quiet, and one word came to the forefront as if in blazing flames:
ARRGHH. Not that! Anything but that! Why not “work harder?” Or “just don’t worry”! Hmmph. Vanity. Okay. Vanity it is.
The second thought that followed was a verse: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Phil 2:3. I have tried to internalize this, but apparently I have not done so, considering my current and consistent struggle.
I had no idea that mulling over my physical shortcomings, my lack of creativity, even our unfortunate couch situation, meant that I was vain. Doesn’t it mean I know what I am going for, and I know what I want out of life? Not really.
The reason it is vanity for me, and not healthy competition, self-determination or inner-drive, is because it has gone sour. I am great when I feel like I am ahead, then I doubt myself as soon as I feel I am behind. It can even go a step further towards mental defeat, or full-out resentment when I feel threatened by anything or anyone that is better than I am. How twisted is that?
Putting any amount of mental/emotional energy into anything that begins a sentence with “I wish…” is like trying to use a sieve to hold water. Nothing is going to happen. So something else is going on. Vanity is pride on steroids, having this kind of excessive self-admiration…it seeks to step on everyone around you, so that you remain on top. That is why I feel so down when I feel like someone is better than I am. I get threatened at the thought of anyone rising above me in any way.
Ouch. Seems I have had to come to terms with this in many regards the past few weeks. I want to be okay with being me. I want to LOVE who I have been made to be, in spite of my perceived shortcomings.
Vanity is a thief…a murderer of true joy. It can make us suspicious, paranoid even. When it creeps in, I begin to waste time and emotional energy thinking about how to get some other set of gifts, talents and material possessions to go on TOP of what I already have. Great, now I am greedy too.
Let us relish, foster, and cultivate the gifts and talents we have been given.
So what are some answers to this dilemma? There is nothing good about the label “vain”…nothing to be proud about there. I have been deep in thought over this stuff for the past few days. Here is what I have heard.
1. Keep your inner thought life clean by washing it with the Word of God. Daily.
2. Identify the things that cause your mind to wander. Those things that make you feel “up” when you’re on top of things, or ahead of people, then swing you back “down” when you feel behind or not up to some arbitrary standard. One example for me is that I tend to avoid reading the comments sections where people post their WOD results. For some people, it is a healthy gauge. For me, I have made it far too central to my self-worth.
3. Stop. Comparing. OR, make sure you ALWAYS consider how things could be worse, with deep gratitude. Besides, if someone else lived your exact life, your exact environment, they would do it the same. Your journey is tailor-made for YOU.
4. Your affirmation of yourself will never fulfill you, nor will the affirmations of others…because of the back end: fear of getting behind. You must find fulfillment in the utter grace God has given you, that your lot is secure with Him.
I will close with one of my all-time favorite quotations from Michael Scott. “Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this, compulsive, need, to be liked. Like my need to be praised.”
Um, I kind of identify with that one!