Monday, November 24, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

A few of you have asked about the results of my Emergency Shut Up System test. I haven’t written about it because I needed to take some time to process all of it.

I made it through the day – well, until the end of the day – without complaining (out loud, anyway). At about 9:30 that night, Kurt and I were sitting on the couch and out of nowhere I said, “Ugh, I’m so bored!”

I almost had a spotless record.

One of the things I noticed was that I was always ready with a negative comment; a biting remark of some sort. Not necessarily a complaint – but not anything pleasant either.

So, I spent a lot of that day not talking.

That was something of an eye opener. It was like someone held up a mirror and I saw what I really look like as opposed to what I think I look like.

It was upsetting, unsettling and left me feeling pretty small.

The whole experience reminded me of a little “song setup” I wrote back in 2004 when I would sometimes lead worship at church. I always had to write out what I was going to say – it helped calm my nerves. Here’s what I shared with our church:

I Give You Me Setup (2004)
We moved to a new house about 3 weeks ago. As I was unpacking I came across one of my old journals from August of 1996. That had been a particularly exciting time in my life. I had just graduated from college, started a new job, moved to a new apartment. My husband and I were celebrating our 2nd anniversary - lots of good times.

So I was certain that it would be full of fun little details that I had forgotten all about.

But that’s not what I found. Instead it was full of negativity, insecurities and endless complaining. There was no mention of how blessed I was – or the gifts that God had given me. In fact, there was no mention of God at all. I was shocked at the lack of gratitude. Such immaturity!

But I quickly found comfort by reminding myself that I had grown up a lot since then. I’m not that person anymore.

And to prove it – I decided to read a current journal entry. After all – now is an equally exciting time. I have a new home, a beautiful little girl – my husband and I getting ready to celebrate our 10th anniversary… So I knew that this time I would see a lot of gratitude – a lot of praising God.

But I didn’t… It was full of the same negativity, misery and self-centeredness. And I realized how little I’ve changed in 8 years. I’ve wasted so much of my life being ungrateful. God has continued to bless me – richly – all throughout my life, but I’ve never really experienced the full benefit of those blessings because I've been too busy focusing on all the things that I think aren't perfect. It's time to change that. I need to shift my focus from me to Him. I need to stop and say thank you.

Back to current day....

I wrote that setup 4 years ago. And in 4 years, I haven’t changed… I continue to try – and continue to fail. Every time I look in that mirror, I don't see what I want to see.

Changing behavior is tough because you don’t just make the change once. You have to keep making the decision to change over and over and over again. It’s exhausting and overwhelming.

But I keep trying.

I’m thankful for grace and the second chance that comes with it.


johnsonandjohnson said...

You know...I actually remember that song setup...I appreciate you sharing your private struggles....

Grace is such an overwhelming concept, isn't it?

hbmommy said...

Heidi, I don't know if you realize it or not but many of us remember that setup and more. I was always grateful for your humanity...I saw that you were not perfect but were really just trying to be a better person each day. I hope you can accept your imperfections as God's gentle reminders for what you can continue to work on. In the meantime know that you are helping other people as you go :)

John B said...

Add me to the list of people who remember that setup and many more. I always appreciated your setups...they were always well thought out and really connected to the songs. And while you probably thought they may have been overly introspective, they always challenged me to look at myself by you sharing so much of yourself. And that's not an easy thing to get me to do while I am working in the control room where the job is watching and critiquing everything that happens. I would bet that if you were to compare those journal entries again and your feelings today you would see, yes, the negativity/complaints, but also a growth in that process.

Kristi P said...

Heidi, Thank you for sharing that. You have no idea how applicable that is for me at this moment in my life.

World of Wright said...

I always love your honesty. None of us are perfect. What I find funny is how God's plan was for us to be imperfect.

Kristi said...

Hey...I know people who are negative and make no point at trying to change I think making an effort to change is a pretty awesome thing.

I have my own struggles that seem to never end...we each have our own crosses to bear I guess. Thank you for the reminder of God's awesome grace.

Rick said...

I think this is a good time to remind you how uplifting your positive comments have been to me personally. I'm very insecure about my voice and you help me relax. Of course for many of us it's easier to be positive with others than it is with ourselves. We all need to demonstrate grace to others, AND to ourselves.

Diane Davis said...

for us quick witted people, the tongue can get us in trouble. i resonate with so much of what you have to say here. thanks for putting yourself out there.

MrKris said...

"Changing behavior is tough because you don’t just make the change once. You have to keep making the decision to change over and over and over again. It’s exhausting and overwhelming."

This is one of the best statements I've read in awhile. Guess if I wasn't hooked on the Twighlight series I might be better read...Seriously, though, I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling.