I am a terrible test-taker. When I was in high school the SAT experts trained me to, "Go with your gut. Stick with your first answer because it's usually right."
But, it never looked right. It never felt right.
Finishing, I took their last piece of advice to heart, "When you're finished, go back and review your test before you turn it in." If they hadn't said this, I might have been able to resist changing my first answers, but because "they" said to review, I did.
I spent my remaining test-time in a whirlwind of self-doubt and frustration. Is that answer right? I don't know. What about this one? Erase. Correct. Erase. Sigh of exasperation. I HATED being tested. As much as I'd like to blame my test scores on the test-trainers, I've come to see I'm a person who often gets stuck in Auto-Correct.
Auto-Correct is a mode where I find myself analyzing my actions, words, emotions, successes and failures. Auto-Correct isn't an inherently bad character trait, but it can become debilitating if I get stuck in it. This is how I get stuck: after I've analyzed my thoughts, words and actions, I analyze them again, and again. It's as if it's a loop in my mind that I can't stop. Soon, I discover a better way I could have said or done something. And soon I've created a new loop for my mind to follow of all the better ways I could have done or said this or that.
I become obsessed with the best scenario. If only I had said it like this...or responded like that. Soon, I find myself trapped beneath a whirlwind of self-condemnation and I have no idea how I got here, except that I was trying to be the best Christian I could be. I was trying to make sure my life and love for Jesus lined up, and now I feel like a prisoner to my faults and failures. How did I get to this place? How did I get stuck in Auto-Correct?
Last Sunday, my husband and I shared a message on marriage with our church on How to Beat the Odds: Believing in the Underdog. This wasn't a fixer upper message, but one that shined a light on our own weaknesses, hoping that our vulnerability would help others forgive themselves and find healing in their marriages, too. When we pulled away from the church, I felt like I'd served Jesus to the best of my ability.
But, yesterday in the car, Clayton noticed I was in a trance so he asked, "What's going on in your mind Sharie?" He sensed my mind might be stuck in auto-correct, and he was right. I started crying, and these words fell out of my mouth, "Do you think people think I'm selfish? Do you think they expected me to be a better pastor's wife? Do you think they know I love and respect you more than life? I hope I said things right. I'm feeling weak and vulnerable right now. I'm doubting myself."
And then I said much more....
And then I stopped. I knew going on would take me nowhere but further into that terrible pit of shame.
I am weak. I am not perfect and I won't be until I'm home in heaven. My words won't always line up with my faith and neither will my actions. Because of this, I have to forgive myself. But I've noticed that I can't really forgive myself until I embrace my weakness. And there's a difference between admitting you're weak and embracing it.
Paul had a weakness that tormented him. Possibly it plagued his thoughts like me, or maybe he felt his weakness held him back from being all he could be, doing all he could do for Jesus. He asked God to take it away and God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So Paul decided to "boast all the more gladly about his weaknesses so that Christ's power would rest on him." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Perhaps Paul remembered a time when he didn't feel weak; when he was a Pharisee with power. He used this strength to chase down, torment and kill Christians. Perhaps Paul came to a realization that when men rest in their own power and strength, their motivations and actions tend to serve themselves instead of God. Perhaps he realized in his own strength he missed seeing who Jesus was, and therefore was missing the will of God for his life.
Perhaps we can embrace our weakness like Paul. Perhaps when we're stuck in Auto-Correct, wishing we'd performed better for ourselves, for others, or for Jesus, we can own our fallible nature knowing God's power to work isn't dependent on us, but on Himself. When we are weak, His power rests on us. But when we are strong, we take confidence in our own.
The whirlwind of Auto-Correct will only cease when we stop trying to make ourselves perfect, and instead rest in his ability to use us in our imperfection. Whew! Now I can breathe a sigh of relief! I hope you can too.
If you need help in how to beat the odds in your marriage, NewSpring would love to serve you and help you find your next step forward. You can email for help: firstname.lastname@example.org Also, our message is available online: Take a listen: https://newspring.cc/sermons/how-to-beat-the-odds/believing-in-the-underdog
© 2016 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.