Monday, April 26, 2010
Addictions and Other Afflictions
Okay, I admit it, I am addicted to Bejeweled. I know it is totally lame but I get so much satisfaction out of lining up those silly coloured "jewels" and making my way to the top of the score board. And clearly I do realize that this game has absolutely no value in real life, but still, I find myself drawn to play it over and over again and pat myself on the back when my score increases as if this is some true measure of success. Yet all the time I'm racking up my scores and trying to keep the competition at bay, I really am laughing at myself as I realize just how ridiculous it all is in the grand scheme of life.
That being said, I do take the game a little bit too seriously at times. For example, I really, really get annoyed with myself when I play the game too quickly. See, the thing is, for those readers who might not be initiated in the magic of Bejeweled, if you play too slowly, you really can't get a high score. But, if you play too quickly, you end up matching up jewels that in retrospect, would have been better left alone. And there's nothing more frustrating than realizing two seconds too late, that you just missed out on an awesome line up of matching jewels that would have totally rocked your score right off the charts!
Unfortunately, this tendency in my life towards self-criticism and regret goes way beyond a mere facebook application. There are times when I find myself almost overwhelmed by feelings of regret over words I have spoken and foolish choices I have made in the past. I know that the Lord has forgiven me but I just can't seem to get it into my head that I should forgive myself. It's like a scab that I can't resist picking at, returning to it again and again even when I know it would be better left alone to heal. I look back at my life and wonder how I could have been so stupid! And inevitably, I am filled with a sense of deep self-loathing as I consider how I could have done things differently.
This morning when I went for my walk, I started to think about how I handle these negative feelings. Obviously, the way I'm handling them is not working because they are not going away, so I thought I better examine what I'm doing so I can find a better way! And I realized that what I do when I'm flooded with these feelings of regret, shame, and self-disgust is the same almost every time -- I push those feelings down into a box, deep in my heart, hiding them so I won't think about them anymore. The problem with this is that they never go away! The box just gets more and more full and spills out more and more frequently!
I thought about Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 10:5 - I know we are supposed to take "captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" so I've always thought by turning off those negative thoughts, I was actually doing the right thing. By not letting my mind dwell on them, I thought I was taking them captive. However, I had a new thought this morning. If we're going to use military imagery, then what I've actually been doing is retreating in battle --- running away from the fight by shoving my feelings down and not dealing with them.
I think that I need to stop pushing the thoughts away and instead, let Jesus go to battle with them for me. A funny image pops into my head when I think about that, of Jesus dressed as a medieval knight, fencing with all of my foolish thoughts. It makes me smile inside to think that He would go to battle on my behalf. Really, when you think about it, that is what He did when He went to the cross. He went to battle for your soul and for mine, and He won the victory! The next time I'm flooded with feelings of regret and shame, instead of retreating from the battle ground, I'm going to try to bring those negative feelings to the foot of the cross, and let Jesus conquer them for me.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5