Skip to main content

Stop arguing with yourself and enjoy God's presence

God is big. However, in line with his gracious nature, he doesn’t always speak loudly, and hearing his voice can be difficult when I’m in the midst of fighting with myself. I have many voices going on in my head: the snarky contrarian, the positive Christian idealist, the relentless egomaniac, the compassionate shepherd, the curious adventurer, and more.

But often the loudest voice is the inner moral critic. He’s a yeller.

When I start to listen to some unhealthy streams - say the egomaniac's pining for public affirmation or the curious adventurer’s lust for exploration - and lose focus from whatever I was supposed to be doing, I stop myself, become aware of my wayward thoughts, and the shouts of the inner moral critic begin to escalate. The argument goes something like this:

Curious Adventurer [watching Youtube cat fail videos]: Oh my gosh. Either these cats are really dumb or they’re totally being set up by their owners. I need to research this more.

Positive Christian Idealist: There is definitely sermon material here. Cat fails are a metaphor for total depravity.

Compassionate Shepherd: Do cats go to heaven? Is there a Cat Jesus?

Moral Critic: Did you seriously just waste 15 minutes watching Youtube videos and rationalize it as sermon research? Are you kidding me? Are you 10 years old? (Elliot loves fail videos)

The demands of the inner critic generate tensions that I alleviate by further indulging my curious adventurer persona. And so the vicious cycle of guilt, shame, and condemnation spirals downward.

And yet recently I’ve started to recall some helpful words from Brother Lawrence that I’m realizing are the essence of the gospel. I read his little book, Practicing the Presence of God, when I was in college. My brother recommended the book to me while he attended a Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) summer missions project in Yellowstone National Park. He cleaned hotel rooms and it was mind-numbing work. The book helped him sustain a conversation with God amidst the mundane routine. Here are Brother Lawrence’s words in the third person:

"When he had not thought of God for a good while, he did not punish himself for it.  But after having acknowledged his failing, he returned to Him with much greater trust."

Brother Lawrence doesn’t mention gratitude but it’s evident in the quote. He is thankful God is always present to commune with. Even when our minds stray from his presence, it doesn’t mean he has left. He eagerly waits for us to notice him and come back. And when we return, he delights in our small but significant repentance.

I suspect many people are not that different from me. You may not experience full-blown internal fights but I suspect many Christians struggle to decide which internal voice to listen to. And unfortunately, we often perceive the voice of the moral critic to be the voice of the Spirit. However, the scriptures teach that the Spirit leads believers into truth and not condemnation (John 3:17-18; John 16:8-13; Romans 8:1). It’s a crucial distortion of the gospel to believe that God’s dearly loved children are constantly being judged and condemned.

Today, I’m learning to allow the voice of the compassionate shepherd to gently calm my temperamental inner critic. I’m learning to consider the shepherd’s voice as the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The conversation might continue like this:

Moral Critic: Did you seriously just waste 15 minutes watching Youtube videos and rationalize it as sermon research? Are you kidding me? Are you 10 years old? (Elliot loves fail videos)

Compassionate Shepherd: Well, you learned something about cats. Elliot would certainly approve. He has your curiosity, and it is such a gift. At any time, you can return to the task at hand. You are wonderfully accepted and God is excited about you.   

Comments

  1. This is a great inspiring article.Thanks for the great information you have provided!I study one thing tougher on completely different blogs everyday.
    game online Battle for the Galaxy Play Break The Cup online best game Gold Diggers Adventure

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a fancy for your posts.I hope I can see more posts.They contain plenty of information and insight.
    Real Flight Simulator best game for free game Def Island best game Papa's Scooperia

    ReplyDelete
  3. when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1,000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick.
    kizi com
    friv jogo jogar
    free online friv Games

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read] The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package . It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s). Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boy

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene . It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you.  I finished it in three days. Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice.  That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point. Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can pra

Unsolvable Problems in Marriage I: Lowering Expectations

Different expectations of conflict From a recent Facebook post: Working on a post about unsolvable problems in marriage: For those who have been married five or more years, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much expectation did you have entering into marriage that communication could resolve any conflict between you and your spouse? How would you rate that expectation now? People often enter into marriage thinking that most if not all their conflicts can be resolved. Women come into marriage thinking "I can make my husband a better man". Men come into marriage thinking, "My wife will learn to see things my way". This idealistic view of marriage does not survive contact with the enemy. Even for couples for whom the first years of marriage are conflict-free, raising children is its own brand of unsolvable problem. And then there's sickness and mental health issues, job changes, unemployment, moving, and shifts in friendships. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. A number