There’s a lot of terrible advice in the world. But the worst might be to listen to yourself, to go with your heart. What?!? How in the world did that concept even take flight? The heart is an unreliable, even deceitful source. Newspapers are full of people who went with their heart, as are jails. Instead what we need, in this postmodern era more than ever, is truth. Let’s not be silly and pretend that the what springs from our hearts is truth. My own default message is far from it. It says things like “You need to do more. You need to be more. You don’t measure up. You need to be more like him. Why can’t you look like her?”
Recently, while on vacation, I had occasion to hear a pastor that didn’t instantly wow me. I sat there almost irked that his thoughts were scrambled, that he was using a well-known passage and pulling out points any Tom, Dick or Harry could. My inner mean girl sighed in frustration. I am not telling you this because I’m proud of it. I am telling you because it’s the ugly truth.
But it was at that moment that he inserted two quotes that immediately softened my hard, unteachable heart. The first quote was from Paul Tripp who said, “No one talks to you more than you do.” I mean, we know that’s true, but we don’t often stop to think about the implications of this truth. The second quote was from Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?
The old SNL skit almost had it right. Do you remember Stuart Smalley? A sweatered Al Franken stares into a mirror and gives himself a self-help pep talk, ending with the phrase, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
Obviously the talking to yourself that Lloyd-Jones is recommending is not the empty, buck-up words of Smalley, but the life-giving truth of the gospel.
The truth that you are created in the very image of God, that you are beloved, that nothing could ever change that.
Henri Nouwen summarizes it so beautifully:
Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes.’
So are you being passive, listening to yourself? Or you being active listening to the still small voice? Are you raising the volume of the voice of Truth by taking every thought captive and fueling your inner dialogue with the eternal truth of Scripture?
I am learning to listen to myself less and less and talk to myself more. One way I do this is to write this blog, so thank you for lending an ear to what I tell myself!
May you have a blessed weekend telling yourself that you are beloved. It is the truth!