Today a dear friend told me a beautiful story that perfectly illustrates a truth I would like to tell you this week. Here is the truth, and then I will give you the story.
TRUTH: You don’t have to believe everything you feel.
Story: When my friend was a little girl, the church she attended was very strict. There were many rules to keep about keeping the rules. If a person was a “member” of the church you had to be an especially good rule keeper. Sometimes if an adult member broke a rule, they had to sit outside on a wooden bench while they waited for the non-rule breaking members to decide on a punishment for them that matched the rule they broke.
My friend remembers watching these poor “rule breakers” sit and wait until they were called into the congregation. She remembers the fear on their faces or the tears of shame that fell from their eyes. She remembers feeling that they must wait on the “outside” while they were talked about and their “bad” rule-breaking behaviors were discussed. As a sensitive child, she recalls how she sensed their pain of being ostracized. She knew it so deeply that she believed that a rule-breaker was not only separated from the good members but from God Himself. Even as a little girl, her fear of intimidation and punishment stayed with her regarding people and even God. Her thoughts formed around that memory and told her a lie. Her thoughts told her that if she failed….anywhere at any time…she was benched. That horrible dread of punishment and intimidation followed the thought/belief over and over in her life. So over and over it would drag her to the wooden bench to sit alone in fear and shame just like the people she had witnessed. Secluded and waiting for God to pass His critical eye over her. Then waiting until He felt better and could let her get up again.
Let me ask you a question as you read this. Are you benched? Have your thoughts lied to you about God? Have the thoughts (the ANTS we spoke of in last week’s blog) been telling you that you cannot get off the wooden bench and play or enjoy the freedom of living because you have been a rule-breaker? Do you view God as staring down at you with a critical eye, just waiting for Him to be in a better mood so He will let you get up?
Dear friend. That is not the truth. Read the gospel of John in the Bible. It will tell you the truth about who you are. You will find no benches. However, you will find a wooden cross made out of love. Run your thoughts about yourself through that grid. My friend in the story did…and she is free of them today. She is off the bench.