I’ve talked a lot about success, but not a lot about what hinders success. A few days ago, I posted a quote on Driftyland’s FB page from Judges 1:8-2:3. I was watching a sermon about “The Causes and Cure for Spiritual Inconsistency“ on The Summit’s website, when I heard J.D. Greear say:
“Small areas of disbelief produce large areas of disaster.”
I let the message resonate with me for awhile. The truth in those words is remarkable. I thought about all of the little ways, day by day, I don’t trust that there’s a plan in the works.
Then I started thinking about why I don’t trust that.
Sometimes it’s impatience, or the desire for short-term gratification (something that hinders a lot of us). But without realizing it, I had learned one of largest, most difficult reasons behind my occasional disbelief weeks prior.
I started attending my friend Allison’s Bible study after my Bachelor nights at Shana’s ended. The timing worked out perfectly, schedule-wise. We’ve been doing a Beth Moore study, where she discusses freeing yourself from traps and snares.
Traps and snares - I’ve encountered them my entire life. I’m talking about deep-rooted insecurities and anxieties I’ve always had, that keep me from achieving my personal, professional and spiritual goals. The “traps” I keep getting caught in, the “snares” I find myself tangled in.
If you don’t know what yours are, just finish this statement:
“I can’t believe I did ________________ again.”
For some, a snare is continuing to indulge in unhealthy food, or hurtful gossip. For others, it’s more severe – cheating or infidelity, drug abuse, gambling, etc. These are traps and snares that keep you from being your best self.
It inspired me to focus more on my snares, and like anyone else, I have a few. But the largest one… and perhaps, most daunting, is needing validation from others.
It’s hard to admit, but I’m like a dog. I love being pat on the head. I love being rewarded, and recognized for my efforts. Sometimes, I’ll do something to the point of exhaustion just to have someone nod when I ask -
“I’m doing good, right?”
One of my oldest friends, Joe, unintentionally brought this to my attention a week ago. We were on the phone catching up, we hadn’t spoken in a few months, and without being prompted, he praised me.
He told me things I really wanted to hear from someone else. He told me how proud he was to be my friend and how I was always working so hard to improve myself. He said my month off from booze and my dedication to my book inspired him.
I thought those words would make all the effort worth it. But they didn’t. I thanked him profusely, but told him the truth – as soon as he said all of that, I just felt exhausted.
It was the equivalent to collapsing after a marathon. I realized I’m tired of constantly trying to prove myself – especially since no one is asking me to. It’s an constant Star-Wars-garbage-compactor-environment I’ve created, and existed in, alone.
It’s a snare because although self-improvement is important, needing constant validation and approval from people is unproductive. The area of disbelief it feeds is that I’m not enough, as I am. That if I just (insert inspiring action here), I’ll be happier, smarter, just better.
This particular snare, this area of disbelief hinders me personally and professionally. Jake (my boss) calls me a peace keeper, and there’s obvious issues with that. Previous boyfriends have expressed fatigue from overly thoughtful and frequent gift giving. At first, I felt like they were being ungrateful, but it made sense when one pointed out that by giving way too much, they felt like they weren’t giving enough.
I am enough. I have enough. A lot of people do a lot more, with a lot less, than what I have.
So, admittedly, I haven’t quite figured out how to free myself yet. I’m working towards it. I wanted to discuss it because I think it’s a very real problem that people have. I want to challenge all of you to identify, and battle against your snares and traps. Learn how to set yourself free.
I anticipate that once I figure it out myself, my perspective of the world will be that it’s a much sunnier place.