Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Honor God and Parents--Or Tell Lies
I woke this morning and lay in bed wondering why it is so hard for me to tell the truth about the tiniest things that might have someone think negatively about me. I was pretty sure it had to do with the guilt and embarrassment I feel when I think people will not approve or will catch me out not doing the best I can do. "Study to show thyself approved unto God (and people, oh yes! people especially), a workman (a hardworking one)..."
But at the same time, I actually fear that if I am successful I will be guilty of pride, that core sin. If I reach too high or am pleased by even small successes, I am stepping out of my place in life which is to be a humble and obedient little Christian girl, thus pleasing God and grandma and church and sometimes parents too, who in turn were under pressure to raise me that way--and by extension, everyone else (humans more than God, I strongly suspect).
Yet at the same time, I know I believe, deep down, that I am supposed to do well, particularly in anything related to academic education, writing, and teaching, to please and reflect well on my dad, the teacher.
Further, when I commit any one of an endless number of thou-shalt-nots, I find myself faced with the deep urge to cover it up by telling a little white lie. And then I instantly feel guilty, because by lying I have broken one of the ten commandments. It matters not that when I look up those ten commandments, I can't find the one about lying. The closest is to not bear false witness against my neighbour--but it seems that what I am really doing when I tell one of these lies is that I am bearing false witness against myself in order to please others.
After I got up and started the day, I checked my Facebook and did something I rarely do--took one of those silly quizzes. This one was about "success blockers" and after just eight questions, it decided that my personal success blocker was "feeling unworthy." It explained this goes back to the preschool years when our brain mostly is using theta waves, the same kind used for hypnosis and meditation. We sponge up everything that comes our way, and it affects our subconscious for the rest of our life. That fit in pretty well with what I'd just been thinking about, don't you think?
So sometimes I lie because I feel unworthy, or more likely unapproved, and need people to think well of me--while at other times I feel I must cover up my illegal feelings of worthiness (pride, you know) to prove my humility. It's a hopeless balancing act, an unattainable tiptoe walk along a narrow fence line. Yet I can't seem to avoid it because it is buried deep inside me and I know it goes way back to my earliest days when I was faced with expectations that, in reflection, I think were impossible for a child to live up to.
I know those in authority over me meant well; I know they were trying their best to themselves obey God and be humble yet approved, and I have no doubt that they were probably raised under stronger strictures that I ever was. I even have no doubt that I've passed some of this on to my own children, while at the same time trying to be more relaxed and approving, then feeling guilty for doing so in case it might lead them astray.
Yes, I'm an adult now and have been for 40 plus years. Yes, I should be able to overcome that beginning. Or at least be able to figure out what parts of my upbringing were an overreaction and set that aside, holding to the many parts which were good. And yes, I've tried. And tried and tried. Occasionally I manage, a bit. But then I find myself telling another little white lie, quite frequently in fact.
Am I alone? Am I hopeless? Should I be trying harder? Am I "unapproved" by God because of all this? Is there a way out, an escape? The video I watched offered a free course on how to set aside one's success blockers and become successful--but I turned off the video at that point because I had that little voice in the back of my mind warning me against "worldly methods" ... but what else am I supposed to do? Why does it seem like all my prayers and Bible study and church attendance and participation and submission and seeking the guidance of God's Spirit, and so on and on and on, is not helping either?
Do you face this struggle? Is there an answer in this lifetime? How do those perfect, approved Christians do it? Or are they struggling, too? And maybe telling their own little white lies (and maybe even big ones sometimes)?