I thought about this man and how frightening it must be to have no idea if you are about to run into something or someone. Your only view is what you're moving away from. Spending your life physically unable to move forward.
This scene playing out before my reminded me a lot of myself. My journey into adulthood and my ever changing relationship with the Lord have been quite revelatory about who I really am. I realized how much where I have been and what I have done has been an almost constant area of focus for me. Its almost embarrassing to own to how much time I spend turned around, my eyes glued firmly to every mistake and wrong decision. At times, I almost feel enchanted by the desire to wallow in failure, disappointment and rejection.
Our pasts and struggles can be inviting mistresses. Typically, they are used in one of two ways. First, as a wall to keep us from letting the unknown future from penetrating us. Or second, we can use it as a refuge, a place to run back too because its too hard to make changes and we give up. It so much easier to stick to the familiar, even if its detrimental.
In the first scenario, (the wall of Jericho, we'll call it) its the fear of success, not of failure, that hold us back.
"Well yes, Lord, I know you said you had a hope and a future for me....but what if I can't live up to it. All I ever do is fail, I have no idea what its like to do well. What if I can't handle the pressure? What if I let people down? Its not really possible to live your dreams. I've never seen it. I would have no idea what to with that kind of life."
The second scenario is even more common. Its the one where the same record is playing on repeat inside your head. The A side is self hatred and doubt and the B side is unworthiness and fear. Its safe to say this record is on the top of the charts. The lyrics are pretty simple to these songs.
They tell you to run repeatedly back to the things you've overcome and places you've been because retreating is easier than pressing on. They tell you your identity is the darkness of your own heart and everyone can see it. Its the clothes you wear and the scent that wafts from you.
Its a tune the enemy likes to use to hold us back. This distorted view of ourselves then becomes the welcoming hand we shake other's with.
"Hello, I'm Amanda and I am a lustful, lying glutton who will never meet your expectations because I hate myself. Nice to meet you."
Yeah....that's going to help you make some great friends.
Or we can use it to put the Lord on standby.
"Sorry, Jesus. I'd really like to do that but you see I'm really busy hating myself right now for every stupid thing I have ever done, am doing or will do in the future. I'll call you later, if I have time."
I'm sure Jesus just loves that.
What you believe to be true is what you project to others. If you can't let go and forgive your past, you will unconsciously be inviting things into your life that reinforce your shortcomings. What you really are and are capable of are never shown because you assume the position of failure from the get go.
I'm saying all of this to you because this is a huge are of struggle in my life. Its one the Lord is constantly addressing with me.I can spend so much time looking at my mistakes, past and current. I can spend hours replaying moments in my mind I wish I could do over again. I spend so much time with my back turned, looking at where I have been, I miss what's happening right in front of me. I can spend so much time trying to run back to what's familiar, I can't hear my destiny call from down the street, reminding me my future is hopeful.And the times I do see this glorious purpose He has laid out in front of me, I freak out and want to run from it. I want to run because I'm trying to use my own lack of knowledge to stumble my way through it and I am terrified of the pressure I feel to do well. I'm scared of the uncharted territory I'm walking into and of the responsibility of stewarding it well.
When you think about it, being afraid of doing something well because you know then that people will have higher expectations of you...well its just a bit ridiculous, isn't it?
I'm not going to pretend I have some miraculous cure for all this because I don't. Its a daily journey of overcoming my lack of confidence in the Lord and myself. Its a daily fight to believe that I am more than my mistakes, my doubts, my fears and my past. But....I AM fighting. I can't give up. Neither can you. There will come a day, I am confident, that I will be able to move forward fully, no matter how much easier it is to do otherwise.
All I know is that the more time I spend walking backwards, the more vulnerable I am to danger. All I'll see is life passing me by.
I'll leave us with these verses:
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13
"He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit..." Titus 3:5
"Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, ..." Phil. 2:2-8
(spending all our time looking at ourselves doesn't allow much time for seeing other's needs.)