I used to worry constantly about what people thought of me. I pretended that I didn’t care but I did. I was always wondering, “What are they thinking? What are they up to do bring me down? Why do they hate me?”
Of course, I held all this in and attempted to make it look as if I was super self-confident and the coolest kid on the block (even though I was a grown man and looking like a cool kid was just dumb).
Now, I can see that this was largely due to the fact that I had a warped view of how God saw me. I thought he looked down on me and saw failure, weakness, sorrow and all sorts of things that made me deserving of the reject pile of scrap in the corner of his creation. It is hard to move forward in God’s plan when I see no possible way of fitting into it.
I needed a lot of building up to motivate me. So I worked hard to build myself up. But I am not such a good builder. The things I built never seemed to match up with my plans. They were meek and weak and useless. So I figured that if I ran my mouth enough and convinced enough people that my failures were actually giant victories, well, at least they would think I was someone special and maybe I would even think so too.
One epic fail after another was written in the book of my life story.
Proverbs 14:3 A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe.
I was obviously being the fool again. Only a fool thinks that he can do what only God can do. I can’t create worth in my life. I can’t make my flaws turn into strengths. I can’t fix the leaky cracks and mend the tears inside me. But God can, regardless of if I deserve it or not.
My proud talk didn’t build me, it beat me. With every word, I punished myself and brought myself further and further from where God wanted me to be. He didn’t want a proud and boastful fool trying to be what he wasn’t. He didn’t want to look down on my failure. He wanted to step into my life, all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly and touch it.
He wanted to turn my words from foolish to wise. He wanted to take me from the self-punishing lifestyle I had embraced and bring his word into my life to make me safe.
A lot of the misery and pain people endure every day is self-inflicted. I was an expert at that. I could take a bad day and make it nearly kill me. I could take a good day and turn it into a storm. That rod of proud talk, trying to do for me what only God can do, beat the tar out of me on a regular basis and I just kept taking it over and over again. I didn’t know that a huge step in fixing my life was to just stop trying to make people think I was great. I wasn’t even just OK.
Today, as in every day, I really need to shut up more and make sure that my words are wise and true. Wisdom never strays from truth. A lie or exaggeration, especially if it is to make myself look better than I truly am or better than someone else is just foolish chatter that bears some sort of consequences. Better to stick with the truth and let God change that into something that really is worth talking about.