Good and Bad
“Yuck. I feel so bad! I ate so many cookies; more than I needed!”
The anguish in Janice’s voice shocked me.
“You’re not bad,” I tried to reassure her. “You just ate a few too many biscuits, that‘s all.”
“But I’m on a diet. I’m not supposed to eat cookies in the first place, let alone have as many as I did.”
I wanted to laugh and make light of this, but the tone in Janice’s voice told me she needed my empathy.
“Where did you get the idea you’re bad just because you ate something you love? Eating cookies doesn’t make you bad.”
I tried reasoning with her and then being lighhtearted about it, but I could hear by the tone of her voice, she didn’t think this was cute or funny.
“I promise, I will limit what I eat tomorrow even if it kills me.”
“Ouch! Now that’s commitment.”
I couldn’t suppress my laughter any longer.
“Tammy, don’t laugh. I’m really awful. I should have known better.”
“You’re really serious about this aren’t you?”
“I hate that I pigged out. I’m horrible.”
We chatted a bit longer, Janice reiterating how awful she was, me trying to soothe her guilt.
I had to shake my head at the disgust Janice felt for herself.
Later that day, my friend Jane called. Our conversation sounded strangely familiar to the one I had with Janice.
“I’m so awful.” Jane whined. “I didn’t work out at the gym yesterday or the day before and I just don’t feel like going today. I feel like I‘m really bad for not keeping to my commitment..”
I thought of the conversation I had the other week with my mother. She was upset with herself for not accepting some volunteer work the ladies group had asked her to do. ‘
“Mom,” I tried to reason with her, “You don’t have to do everything people ask of you.”
I couldn’t get through to her. She had slipped into putting herself down and telling me how terrible of a person she was, all because she had said no to their request.
Picking up my Bible, I turned it‘s well worn pages to the book of Ephesians, chapter six. I had read this chapter many times. I myself struggled for years believing I was an awful person because of things I did or didn‘t do. Then God revealed that as a Christian, I was engaged in a spiritual battle. He showed me I have an enemy of my soul who delights in my feeling less than victorious; an enemy whose intention it is to cripple and make me ineffective.
The enemy kept stealing my joy. The Bible told me the joy of the Lord is my strength. I needed that joy to live in peace and freedom. I began doing battle God’s way. I discovered what the Word said about who I am in Christ and I used specific verses to stand my ground against the negative messages that bombarded me.
I had been living on the defensive, but as I read and reread the scripture passages, it dawned on me, I needed to take an offensive position instead.
I hadn’t been using the tools provided by God to fight the enemy and specifically those that made me feel bad and worthless about myself. .
I started putting on the whole armour of God, taking the belt of truth and using the scriptures to quiet the negative voices in my head. There is no condemnation in Christ so why should I spend my time berating myself? I donned the breastplate of being in right standing with God. I wasn’t alone in my fight. I joined forces with my Creator to stand firm and hold my ground. I refused to entertain the negative whispers the enemy threw at me. I took my thoughts captive in Christ and quoted the Word until it became a part of me.
It had finally dawned on me how those negative thoughts affected my emotions and my behaviour. I needed to call Janice, Jane and my mother and tell them what I had learned. I wanted to help them overcome feeling bad about themselves. As a parent, I never think my children are bad when they do something wrong. In my eyes, they are good and perfect regardless of what they do or don’t do. God, as our loving Father, sees us as good and never bad.
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