One of the most cherished joys in my life is journaling. I have stacks and stacks of composition notebooks, spiraled decorative journals, leatherbound recycled paper and just about any other type of journal you could think of. They date back to my MIDDLE SCHOOL DAYS (when we wrote with quill pens and papyrus, obviously) and they are currently resting under my bed (just in case you’d ever like to crack them open and get an inside scoop into my crazy head).
Each year, on my birthday, I go back and skim through the previous year’s journal entries to reflect on both the ways I’ve grown and the Lord’s faithfulness in answering (or not answering) specific prayers. Sometimes, admittedly, I chuckle at the things I spent so much time stressing about or devoting so much energy to worrying about. You live and you learn, right?
Yesterday, when I was journaling, I left a little treat for future Diana. I wrote all about how much of performer I realize I am – and I used the exact words below:
It’s crazy to me how I’m such a little performer. It’s kind of sad that I go to bed each night and I think, “Okay. Did I do or say anything I should feel bad about today?” What’s worse is that when my answer is, “No,” I’ll go to bed feeling extra close to God. When my answer is, “Yes,” I feel an irresistable need to be crazy obedient in order to earn back God’s favor and love.
Wow. Gut check. (I hope you’re ready to re-read this one, future Diana.)
The reality is this: Sometimes, I feel so weak in light of the pull of my sin. Sometimes, my natural compulsion to sin seems so big and so compelling that I can’t see a way past it or through it or around it.
Sometimes, plain and simple, I feel outright defeated.
Whether it’s a recurring weakness, a never-before-seen manifestation of a new issue I didn’t even know I had or a relapse of a habit I thought I kicked long ago – if the timing is just right, the perceived failure can produce a blow so devastating it knocks me to my knees.
It comes down to disappointment. And I don’t know why that’s such a tough pill to swallow.
(This isn’t my favorite story to tell, but it’s one worth mentioning.) The night after the very first time I drank (admittedly, it was a little too much), I walked straight into my parents’ bedroom and I confessed everything. I told them I was sorry, I told them I’d never do it again and I told them I didn’t know what I was thinking or what prompted me to do what I did.
I had a headache, I was crying and I was embarassed. None of it was really pretty.
And then – it got worse.
“Thank you for telling us,” my dad said. “We’re glad you’re safe and we’re not going to punish you. We just really expected more of you and are really disappointed.”
That’s when I crumbled. In a second’s time, I felt about one millionth of the size of the smallest atom in my body.
Disappointment. For whatever reason, it’s an emotion that can so easily defeat me. It’s a feeling that unravels me, unwinds me and knocks me to the floor.
I get disappointed in my inability to keep it together.
I get disappointed in my inability to keep from sinning.
I get disappointed in my inclination to get frustrated with things that are outside of my control.
I get disappointed by my W-2.
I get disappoieted when I try on a dress that looked so much better on the hanger.
I get disappointed by the way a recipe turned out.
And the disappointment can so easily morph into self-pity when I let myself wallow in it. And the self-pity can so quickly photosynthesize into defeat.
It’s only when I expose my tendency, when I clue others in on my struggle with disappointment that I can set myself up to choose to live life undefeated. It’s only when I ditch my compulsion to be positively perfect that I can free myself from the incessant disappointment when I measure myself up against the unattainable.
What about you? How do you combat the feeling of defeat?
How do you deal with being disappointed in yourself?