Tell the truth. You’re just as insecure as I am. I am so freakishly self-confident most of the time that when I’m insecure, it’s freakishly debilitating. Lately, I have wanted someone somewhere to be my reality check: am I on track? is this the best I can do? is that a good topic to write about? are those the best colors for a book jacket? who do I think I am putting my ideas out into the public arena? do I look fat in these jeans?
I have quite a few reality checks in my inner circle; the problem is that they’re all checking/affirming a different reality. It’s quasi-pathetic that I need to find someone I respect who tells me enough of what I already know is true (I do look fat in these jeans) that I’m willing to trust them on everything else. I just want someone to spoon-feed it to me, where I can simply coast on his or her opinion of me. As you can imagine, that’s not working out so well.
Can you guess where I’m going with this? You’re right. The answer is God. The only way I can trust another human as completely as I wish (i.e., make them my crutch), is if they’re me. Everyone else is unique enough that some aspect of them conflicts with some aspect of me, which means I can’t be sure if the feedback they’re giving me is about me or them. The only way I can trust myself is if my reality check is God.
Fortunately, I don’t mean God the schoolmaster (I need to reassure myself quickly as I feel my pulse beginning to race). I don’t need him to tell me where I could improve my discipleship—I’m already aware, thank you very much. I mean God the perfect truth who reflects me as accurately to myself as I’m willing to let him.
I frequently hear people say they don’t get answers to prayers, or they don’t know if what they’re feeling is a prompting from God or if it’s wishful thinking. I testify that God always answers prayers—yes, no or not yet. Psych! How do you know if no is no or not yet; how do you know if not yet is no. Do you tick the Big Guy off because you keep praying for something he’s already said no to? Or do you offend him because you quit praying for something he wants to give you but makes it conditional on your diligently asking for it. The truth is we never really know. One of my favorite quotes is from Soren Kierkegaard: “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” Later, it’s usually obvious whether it was God or wishful thinking; in the moment, you just have to make the call. I use the chopsticks method.
The first time I had Chinese food was in college (about 140 years ago). I decided then and there that I would allow myself to use only chopsticks every time I ate Chinese food. Sooner or later, practice would make perfect (enough) that I could actually use them to convey a sufficient amount of food to my stomach. It was very slow going as you can imagine.
The chopsticks method as applied to God is that if I even think he’s prompting me to do something, I do it (unless it involves reading my scriptures or being longsuffering with my kids). I figure I get credit for acting on a prompting even if it’s not really a prompting, and because I’m diligently striving to act on promptings, I get more of them and feel them more clearly.
Some people call it a gut instinct. I call it paying very careful attention to whether my body tenses, ever so slightly, or relaxes, even more ever so slightly. I figure God is in the direction of relax not tense. Like Marco Polo. Am I on track? <relax> Am I doing my best? <with career, relax; with family, tense> Is that a good topic to write about? <RELAX> Are those the best colors for a book jacket? <tense relax relax tense tense> I might need to see a few more iterations of the book jacket before I decide. Who do I think I am putting my ideas out in the public arena? <tense from fear; relax from my knowledge that I’m a daughter of God; relax from “there must be opposition in all things; tense (in a good way) from “bring it!”> Do I look fat in these jeans? <did I really need to ask?>
I might be wrong thinking I’m in sync with God when I make a decision, but I get credit for trying. The more I try, the easier it gets to discern between promptings and indigestion. With a little practice, I can probably feel quite in tune with his will and abundantly supported by his pleasure in my efforts.
Another bonus? If I am in sync, in tune and pleasing unto him, do I really care what the human reality checks in my world say? Well, I always care because I’m kinda insecure like that. But if God and I are on one wavelength and someone else is on a different one, I can be pretty sure their wavelength (for me) isn’t right for me.
Full circle and I’ve arrived at no-lose. If only I didn’t need to remind myself every five minutes whose team I’m on. But I get credit for diligently reminding myself. 🙂