I follow John Piper, a well known author and pastor, on twitter. He’s not one of those people who tweets once an hour, but more like once every few days. When he says something, it’s usually worth taking note; much like C.S. Lewis.
I read one of his tweets a while ago and it pretty much slapped me across the face. twice.
It was somewhere along the lines of, “If you’re afraid of offending someone when you speak, nothing will ever come out of your mouth.”
It’s been a while since I’ve said anything, via Facebook, Twitter, on here, etc. The reason? Well to be honest I’m constantly fighting letting people’s opinions run my life. And for a while I’ve been losing. I care about what people think about me. My thoughts, my music, my perspective, my life. Although I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, I’ve realized I care too much. Too much to the point where I no longer say or do or write anything because I’m afraid of how it’s going to be perceived. Can I be honest with you? It’s a miserable way to live. It really is.
Call it cliché, but I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try to be cool/acceptable/trendy/hip, I’m always falling short in someone’s opinion. And I think I now know why. They are dealing with exact same problem I am.
You see, God took the blindfold off and showed me a mirror. I’m always tempted to be negative and critical of others. You can ask my wife. My close friends. Call me a Debbie Downer because I have an eye for pointing out what’s wrong in people, in life, and in circumstances. But my wife is the complete opposite. I think that’s why I’m starting to see it in myself. What makes this whole thing ironic though is that I’m as fragile as thin glass when it comes to hearing criticism from someone else. Especially people I don’t know. If there was a phobia for being afraid of hearing negative things about yourself, I would have it. Even constructive criticism is like taking a baseball bat to the gut. It hurts so bad that I try and avoid it at all costs, missing out on ways to improve. Sometimes I’ll even break down in tears.
I now know that I tear others down, sometimes in harsh ways, in order to make myself feel better about myself. My sinfulness leads me believe that when I point out the flaws in another person (most of the time just opinons not facts), and magnify them so greatly, that somehow by doing this, I fool other people into focusing on how bad they are and not how bad I am.
How malicious the human’s heart is.
So where does God fit into all of this? Allow me to try and describe to you how I see it in my mind.
I find myself in a room the size of a large living room. In it are people. All sorts of people. Big people. Small people. People I know. People I don’t know. Angry people. Happy People.
They’re all crowded in this room with me; facing me. All telling me things. Good things, bad things, unknown things, things left to my own interpretation, some are whispered, some yelled across the room. This chaos of verbiage is all going on at the same time; picture the chaos of the stock market happening in your living room.
God is also in this room.
But unfortunately, because I control the proximity of the people in this room, I’ve put God in the back corner; behind the people inches away from my face yelling things at me.
God’s speaking to me too, competing for my attention behind these people, trying so hard to be heard; to get me to look at Him.
You see, the entire room is telling me what to change about myself; what they like and what they don’t like.
God’s no different. He’s suggesting that I change certain things about myself too. But the way He presents these suggestions is totally different from the rest. He’s not the loudest voice, He’s the quietest.
But the choice is mine. I turn the volume of the voices up or down. I control who is where in the room. I’m left with the responsibility to re-arrange these people, to turn others down some, and to kick others out completely.
I call this room influence.
What is influencing you right now? Am I? What about the last website you were just on? What about this morning? This evening?
I’ve found that throughout my day, I will be inviting things (or people) into my room of influence; sometimes not even realizing I sent out an invitation. Some of the faces in my room have been there for years, others I will only see for a day.
Who, or what, is in your room?
Celebrities? Television? Radio? Friends? Money? Culture? God?
For me, I had to kick some people out, turn others down, and bring God in a little closer.
Something that came along with God coming in a little closer, was the reminder of how short this life is. In it, are the lives of others that are just as short, and many of them in very similar rooms. Rooms filled with just as much, if not more people than were in mine. Leaving you, just like me, feeling inadequate, or hurting. But God might not be in your room. Maybe the lights have gone out, leaving you completely clueless to what’s influencing you.
My hope and prayer is that if you’re like me, prone to retreat and hide when facing criticism or inadequacy, and calling out what is wrong with the rest of the world, that you’ll find courage and strength to be who God made you to be, but also be open to letting God mold and change you. Learn and follow the perspective of Jesus through the Bible, allow God to change how you’re mind works. Not only will it be freeing, but it will allow you to help others as well.