Shame, Jealousy, and Judgement

Hey, all. Long time no see. Today I want to talk to you about something that’s been heavy on my heart…kinda. Really, it’s just something I’ve been struggling with a lot recently. Something that’s been heavy on my heart? Pshhhh. Please, that kind of talk is for someone other than me.

I texted a friend today. As recent high school graduates looking at moving forward in our lives, she chose to take a gap year. However, she did move down to the state she’d be in for college (Texas) at the end of June. I hadn’t talked to her in a week or two, so I texted her to see how she was doing and how she liked Texas. The story I got back was nothing short of amazing. I’ll shorten it a little, for the sake of the post: once she was down to Texas, she heard that the local library was a place where homeless people hung out. So she went to pay them a visit. When I texted her today, it was the third time she’d gone to the library. She cut up some watermelon to take with her to share, an headed down. Lo and behold, passing out watermelon turned into an hour-long discussion with five homeless men about their lives and faith. This resulted in her being invited to go to the local church these guys went to, and she and a friend are going there tomorrow. How cool! Amazing how God works stuff out! But there, not only with but overpowering my joy for my sister in Christ and my awe at God’s handiwork, was a deep-seated, black, intense, poisoning, controlling jealousy. I regret what I texted next. It doesn’t seem too bad…but I texted her “You really don’t know how to live quietly…although that’s a good thing lol”. Really? Is my jealousy as obvious to you guys as it is to me? It’s true, that is a good thing. We, as Christians, are not called to live quietly. Quite the opposite, in fact. “You really don’t know how to live quietly…”. I regret texting that, but at this moment in time, if I could do over, I’m not sure I’d be able to change anything. Remember how I described my jealousy as controlling earlier? Yeah. Like a monster in my own skin, my jealousy looked me in the eye and spoke out of my own mouth. The bible says that what pours out of the mouth comes from the heart. Apparently, my heart is a monster. Which brings me to my next item: shame. I know perfectly well that any jealousy at all is bad. Really, really bad. Because even if it seems small, it can turn into something so much bigger. I just made a comment to my friend that could have really hurt her. She replied with a smiley face, but…I can’t know anything for sure. Or maybe it doesn’t hurt her now but will later. If I’m lucky…or really, if God is protecting her from the consequences of my jealousy – she won’t have noticed. I don’t know for sure. But what I do know is that now I am riddled with an equally deep-seated, equally black, equally intense, equally poisoning, and equally controlling shame. Perhaps more so, because we’re all tougher on ourselves, aren’t we? Shame over what I said. Shame over what I felt, and am feeling. Shame over many, many more things.

“I know better. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Why am I so stupid? How could I say something so blatantly piercing? And trying to cover it up with light-heartedness made it seem FLIPPANT! I sounded like a non-Christian friend who secretly dislikes her. I sound like the type of friend that slowly poisons a relationship. How could I do this? Why am I always so slow? Why am I always so far behind everyone else, spiritually and maturity-wise? They’re all doing great things, like going on missions trips and helping the homeless and connecting with people and talking to them about their faith and.. and.. I’m doing NOTHING! Why don’t these opportunities come my way? I love people, even if I find it hard to talk to them. Why can’t I do something? Why am I so much worse than they are? They have themselves together, and I’m over here acting like a child!”

On and on and on it goes. Intense, raging jealousy. Violent, piercing shame. And, just as equal as the others: Silent, deadly judgement. About their faith, their attitude, their actions. Who is they? Everyone is they. My parents are they. My best friend is they. My other friends are they. My acquaintances are they. Strangers are they. Social media is they. Everyone, everywhere, and everything they do is subject to inspection and judgement, in so little time as the fleeting half-seconds between other thoughts. I feel dirty. I feel used. And it’s an intense, unbreakable cycle. I judge and get jealous. I feel shame. And so I judge and get jealous even more, trying to automatically shield myself from my own ugliness. Trying to ignore the monsters inside? Maybe. Trying to make myself feel better? Definitely. Succeeding? No, not really. So what do I do?

I’m sorry to say, I don’t know. Yeah, that’s right. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. Or the answer. Who knows? My brain, of course, dutiful from-a-Christian-family grew-up-in-the-church-my-whole-life brain, says the answer is in Christ and his word. Not that I’ve been reading my bible…or regularly praying… Really, though, that’s my brain. Yeah, I know that God is the answer. I also know that jealousy is bad. It gets me about as far. If I really want to abolish these monsters, I need to act. I need to stay vigilant. Proverbs 4: 23 says “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” It’s exhausting work. I don’t even do it well and it’s exhausting! Looking at my heart and stabbing myself with a sword!? That’s painful, too. The very beginning of fixing this problem begins/  at the Bible. At the feet of Jesus. It takes diligence, and leaning on God. And guess what? That’s not all! I don’t know what all it will take, but that’s all I know to do. I’m sure there’s so much more to say, and I’m sure there’s so many more answers to give, but here’s something I need to do today. I need to stop. I need to get real. And I need to lay down any pretense of being put together. Because the truth is I am desperately, desperately broken. And if I want to do anything with this blog, anything at all, I want to be real. Even when I fail so often. And it sounds impressive (at least to me). But right now, I’m just broken and hurting. And I wanted to share this with you guys, because writing stuff out helps me think sometimes. And if it helps one of you (I hope it does), thank I can praise God for bringing beauty out of pain. But he will anyway, won’t he? I need to stop overthinking things and go, so…ciao.

 

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I’m Not Good Enough

Let me jump right in here. If you’ve read any of my previous posts from months ago, you know that I struggle with masturbation. So this post is largely about some wisdom that was spoken into my life regarding that lately.

I’ve been struggling with masturbation for over a year now. I go through cycles – long period of time with no masturbation, then a short period of time with lots of it. Semi-recently, I’ve come to a spot where many of you may or may not have been – I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough for God’s love. I’m not good enough for His forgiveness, for His grace. I keep sinning! And (if you remember my post about rebellion a ways back, or if you want to go read it) not only do I just keep sinning, I rebel against him. Most of the time when I masturbate any more, I send up a prayer ahead of time apologizing for what I’m about to do. So I keep sinning, and keep rebelling, and then I don’t want to pray. I mean, why would God want to hear from me? I can’t expect him to magically fix it if I’m not willing to put in work as well, and obviously I’m failing in that area. I’m tired of saying sorry and then going back to do it again. At this point, I felt dirty. I felt absolutely disgusting. And eventually, I put it at the edge of my mind because I was tired of considering it and not getting answers. But this past weekend, someone spoke some immense wisdom into my life.

David. David was wonderful, wasn’t he? We, as Christians, look up to him. Sure, the man had some flaws, but he was a man after God’s own heart!

Exactly.

God called David a man after his heart, knowing full well that David would commit adultery in the future. And not only would he commit adultery, he would then commit murder to cover it up. And still God said something that praised David so highly. This wisdom that was spoken into my life meant something to me. It wasn’t a life-changing, earth-shattering thing – you rarely know when those are going on, they usually seem super little at the time – but it meant something. What matters, Wisdom (I’m going to start referring to this person as Wisdom) told me, was where my heart was leaning towards. Was my heart following God?

Soloman was wise. He was blessed by God, he followed God, right? Well…until he fell into idolatry (1 Kings 11). God knew that Soloman would do that far before it ever happened.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a thing on Facebook (amazing, right? I saw a thing. Excuse me, I’ll continue now). This passage that someone wrote spoke about the disciples. It’s message was about judging people who may cuss or do other things that don’t seem Christian after they were saved, and their points apply here as well. (By the way, to give credits, this was by Preston Sprinkle on faithit.com)

We all admire the disciples, right? Especially Peter. Well, he had that one bad stint where he denied Jesus (I’m sensing a pattern here…) but other than that, he was pretty close to Jesus! In Luke 9, he was the one who recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Peter denied Jesus and even cursed himself to prove it (Matthew 26:74). Also in Luke 9, James and John wanted to destroy a whole village because they did not welcome Jesus. Simon “the Zealot” (according to Preston Sprinkle, I have not checked this information) and all the other zealots were basically “Jewish jihadists” who killed people. And Matthew was a tax-collector. I like how Preston Sprinkle described this; he said it would be like “you found out that your childhood friend was making a living…funneling money to ISIS” (side note, if you can look up this article, you should. Preston Sprinkle does a good job putting this information into modern, easy-to-understand terms and the whole article was really good thoughts). That’s five of the disciples right there who would be the LAST people you’d imagine being great Christians, and Jesus chose them as his disciples. In Luke 9 (again) it says that the disciple argued about who was the greatest at one point. Can you imagine that conversation? “Murderer!” “Backstabber!” “Hotheads!”. I can’t help but remember when Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the ill”. There are times I almost wish I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, that I knew the dirt of the world, because then I’d be able to understand God’s grace so much better. But I wonder how much harder my life would have been.

So, yeah, I’m not good enough. But Jesus didn’t associate with those who were “good enough” (we see the pharisees as prideful, bad people, but in that day they were the people who were “good enough”). Jesus associated with the people that would make many Christians today recoil. He associated with the people whose faith would be questioned in today’s world. He associated with those people. So the biggest thing I should worry about is whether or not my heart is chasing God.

You’re not good enough either. That’s okay. Neither were the disciples. Neither was David. Neither was Soloman.