The Art of Self-Deception – Part I

I don’t know exactly when it started. Years ago, maybe, when the volume of commitments almost equaled my available time. What was I doing? Nothing extraordinary.

  • Full-time job and daily commute. Check.
  • Caring for my parents. Another check.
  • Evenings with my husband and children, followed by writing several pages on my WIP. Double checks.
  • Weekends for congregation & worship, errands, keeping house, and helping my family grow a vineyard. Quadruple checks.

Raise your hand if these sound like you.

Launching my first novel was a thrilling experience last year, but it edged me into a time deficit. Did I care? Not really. It simply proved that the harder I worked, the more successful I could be. I still believed everything on my schedule was necessary and could only be done by me… a deception that took root in the void of No Free Time.

My smartphone came to the rescue—calendars, lists, online shopping, alarm reminders, apps for reading the Scriptures, email and social media—and enabled me to become uber efficient. Addicted to my smartphone’s super hero qualities, I became the puppet, and it became the master.

In the spring of 2013, a health crisis brought my Figure Eight laps to a screeching halt. Curled up in bed in a fog of pain, I couldn’t tolerate lights or sounds—even conversations, and I had difficulty pulling my thoughts together and formulating words. My computer and phone lay idle for the first time in years.

pulse-traceAn unpleasant surprise greeted me after I emerged from my cocoon, not as a colorful butterfly, but as a wounded moth. No longer able to breeze through complex tasks, any small thing now required effort, time, and multiple re-do’s. In 2014, following another hospitalization, a team of doctors diagnosed me with an incurable, debilitating disease. Forced to cut back on work, my Type A personality rebelled, believing that non-productivity was tantamount to failure.

During the holiday season, I finally admitted I was not improving. When I reluctantly asked my family for assistance around the house, they blew away another dangerous deception. They gave me unconditional love even though I couldn’t do everything I’d done before, and they happily—yes, happily—stepped in to help. To my amazement, they expressed gratitude that I would allow them to come along side. When I confided to my friends I discovered they didn’t shun my weakness either, but rallied around me.

Self-reflecting in this new year of 2015, I’ve found the courage to ask questions.

Why was I doing all these things? Love-certainly, but did a deeper need for validation drive me even harder?

Was it the perfectionist in me or because I feared a loss of love or respect if I wasn’t Superwoman 24/7?

Did I hope to earn the Lord’s approval by being a good person?

Examining my heart for the truth will be a challenging hike over mountain terrain, but I believe the answers will come, along with breathtaking views.
hiker on mountain
Are you too busy to reflect on your inner self instead of how you are fulfilling expectations? What tasks are you doing that could be borne by others?

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WHY CAN’T GOD USE ICE CREAM AS A TOOL TO SHAPE US?

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Or warm sandy beaches, or ski hills? I clasp my hands together and pray with conviction, “I promise I’d listen if You did! When I’m happy, I’m really flexible and agreeable to change!” However, I know it’s a lost cause. Warm sandy beaches, ski hills and ice cream are blessings and gifts from our loving God, however at times, our master’s tools need to be sharper and more abrasive to bring about any lasting change.

 Failure, brokenness, and pain are just a few of God’s tools.

Failure can be a catalyst that shoves us in the new direction that perhaps we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For example; my 25-year-old son realized if he hadn’t had such a tough time with sciences, he wouldn’t have gone into accounting where he now thrives. Or if I hadn’t been laid off from a job, I wouldn’t have found another that used my talents more effectively.

When I trained my horse I referred to it as ‘breaking’ him. My ‘broken’ horse did not enjoy the whole process to be sure (he would far rather have stayed in his pasture, thank you very much). However, his will had to be broken so his potential could be brought out and used by me, his owner (thank you very much). He was healthier with the exercise and he became much more than what he would have, just eating and sleeping.

Pain, both emotional and physical can bring us to our knees where we realize we can’t do it on our own. Without a constant thorn in Paul’s side, he wouldn’t have realized that God could sustain him. 2 Corinthians 12:9 My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. An example of emotional pain is my friend who struggled through a very tough divorce. Before that, she was efficient, confident and apparently happy. However, she never knew God until her sorrow brought her to her lowest low. Only then was she open to God’s help.

As much as I do love cinnamon buns, trips to Europe and golfing, I’m constantly reminded through pain of some kind that these are things to be enjoyed, not worshipped. We are not of this world, and the quicker we remember that the better. Pierre Teihard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I am also reminded of a saying in The Beatitude of Sorrow (1896 by J.R. Millar). Blessed is the night, for it reveals the stars!

Happily, God hasn’t just used pain and suffering to shape me. The miracles of gazing into both my newborn sons’ eyes were about as humbling as they come. And the ‘coincidences’ that regularly happen in my life are reminders that I’m not alone.

So, what kind of tools have been used to shape you?