I’m a people-pleaser. I’m a peacemaker. I like everyone I interact with to be happy and to think I’m a good person. I don’t like to rock the boat. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like to make people mad or upset. I especially dislike disappointing people. My greatest fears seem to be the triumvirate of hurting, disappointing or angering other people. I second-guess myself all the time in this regard…”Did I say something wrong? Did I look at them wrong? Did I make the right decision? Do they like me?”
While I have lived with this for most of my life I would say that the last two years it has felt like this insecurity and the anxiety over it in my mind has been amplified past the max volume. I wrote over a year ago a little bit about what I was going through and how it felt. Oh naive me of a year ago thinking that I was coming out of it…thinking that it was possible to even completely get past it…
I have a deep and persistent faith in God and a belief that Jesus saved my life through his death on the cross. I have always understood that there is an opposite force at work against this faith…Satan…who wants to undermine me at every turn. But, it hasn’t been until this stretch of the road that I have fully grasped the darkness he tries to spread and the lengths that he will go to try and drag me down. He knows our greatest fears…he also knows what we love and hold dear…and he tries to confuse us…not always attacking us outright…but little by little…chipping away at the truths that we hold dear…whispering lies to us until we start to have trouble knowing what was true in the first place.
He did this to me…attacking me just as I had started to feel like I had found what my true calling was in life…what I was truly meant to do. Chipping away with doubts and little lies. Some days it has felt like I was drowning in fear and self-doubt. Some days I have wondered if it would ever get better…if I would ever get back this past, idealized version of myself. Some days I have felt like I don’t want to keep fighting.
But…praise God for this…I haven’t quit fighting. No matter how bleak it seems in my mind some days I have continued to find strength to push forward, to keep trying. I have tried so many different things to distract my mind, to change my mind, to improve my mind…and while none have “worked” there are lots of things that have provided some help, some relief.
One of those things is this amazing book: Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. I learned about it reading a devotion with the Bible App on my phone, and I’ve never had a book describe the deep and secret struggles that I wrestle with in my brain on the daily so well. I’ve always felt like nobody could understand or sympathize or empathize with my deepest and ugliest thoughts…and while the jury is still out on that in my mind…I do take solace from the idea this book presents that everyone has a “chatterbox” within them…talking to them, yelling at them, trying to take them down. It knows what we want to do and knows what we fear most. It knows how to discourage us…how to make us pause, how to tug and pull at the strings of faith until they’re replaced with the threads of fear. This “chatterbox” is from Satan and is meant to distract and discourage us from fulfilling the purpose that God has for us.
This book also very clearly lays out that this doesn’t take away our responsibility for our actions, that this doesn’t excuse bad behavior. On the contrary, understanding that there is a “chatterbox” and what it’s goal is can empower us. We can learn to realize the difference between its voice and God’s. The difference between the voice of fear and discouragement and the voice of truth and courage. We can learn how to empower ourselves to action and carry out our mission in spite of the voice trying to distract us. Because, and while it may not seem like it this is encouraging (at least to me), the “chatterbox” will NEVER stop. It will always be there…but that doesn’t mean I always have to listen to it. And that doesn’t mean that I have to keep carrying the guilt and shame that I feel for it being there in the first place. That “chatterbox” is there…but I don’t have to believe it. It’s going to try to take me down a wrong road, but I don’t have to go. It’s going to keep chirping at me, telling me that the “chatterbox” is who I really am…but I don’t have to listen.
I wanted to share one of my favorite parts of the book that I really needed to read today, that I really needed to help lift me up. I hope that it does the same for you and I hope that if any of this post speaks to you that you will check out this book, or reach out to me if you’d like. I promise you that if you think your “chatterbox” is the absolute, unequivocal WORST…I feel that way too about my own, and as I have to keep reminding myself I urge you: keep fighting, keep “crashing”, “keep pounding”.
I know you are weary. I know you’ve fought many of these battles before and often lost. But unlike King Jehoash, you can’t stop after hitting the ground three times. There is too much at stake, too much hope in you, too much life in you, too much promise in you – too much Christ in you. Show up for the battle – and then show up the next day to fight again. And then show up the next day after that, and then show up the next day after that. Thought by thought, moment by moment, keep pounding, keep asking and believing, keep crashing. (Crash the Chatterbox, Steven Furtick, 208-209)
This is fatherhood…