I wonder if we spend far too much of our lives LISTENING to ourselves, when we should be talking to ourselves instead. I used to tell my granny that she was bonkers for talking to herself. But actually, she had the right idea. In the bible, talking to yourself isn’t the first sign of madness – it’s actually the path to sanity.
Let me give you an example. I bump into an old friend in the street. She’s got her hands full of shopping and can’t stop to talk. That’s understandable, right? Well, not if I listen to my feelings. If I listen to my feelings, then here’s what my brain says:
She doesn’t want to be my friend. All those years, she’s just been pretending to like me. She hates me – in fact, everyone does! I’m a worm. I wish I’d never been born!
And it gets worse from there. You see, not only do I tell myself what the problem is – I also look to myself for the solution. And it’s just as crazy. My head tells me that the solution to feeling bad is a new outfit. Or a haircut. That’ll sort everything out and I’ll feel much better. It even works – for maybe an hour. Then I’ve got to smuggle my shopping past my husband and it’s right back to square one with a major case of the guilties and a smaller bank balance.
In Psalm 42, the writer tells us to take a different approach. To talk to ourselves, instead of just listening to how we feel. Here’s what he says:
‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, For I will yet praise him, My Saviour and my God’.
Downcast and disturbed are INTRUDERS that do not belong in the Christian home. Sure, waves and breakers will always hit us on the OUTSIDE. It’s not wrong to feel sad or depressed – but we’ve got a choice about whether or not they tell us who we are .
If we trust in Jesus, then we are Loved. Shielded. Saved. Hopeful. These are the truths I need to remind myself, even when every skerrick of my being is shouting ‘Loser!’
When I remember this, when friends let me down or I’m having a bad day, I’m less likely to head down the road marked self-pity. Yes I’m tired and it’s been a rubbish week. But as I talk to myself and talk to God, I realise it doesn’t mean that I’m rubbish or that life is either.