What do you do when you feel inadequate?
This question has been thundering in my mind all weekend. It’s in these moments all I want to do is run. I don’t want to work on my inadequacy until I’m adequate, I don’t want to fight the feeling, I don’t want to trust the Lord….I want to escape. That’s my classic. When life gets hard, I start running until it finally catches up with me (I know, I know, “But you’re a biblical counselor?” Well, consider this true confessions of a biblical counselor).
Anyways, in order to prevent this blog entry from turning into a journal entry, I thought I would post on how to fight the feeling of inadequacy in this fallen, sin stained life from Psalm 131. I took these from an article I read in the Journal of Biblical Counseling. These are more for me than for anyone else, but it helps me to think them through when I write them out:
– Start with Psalm 131, ” O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.”
– What is the “noise” going on inside you? Where does it come from? How do you get busy and preoccupied? Why? Do you lose your composure? When do you get worried, irritable, wearied, or hopeless? How can you regain composure? Do you need to learn it for the first time?
-Notice that this psalm does not portray blissful, unruffled detachment, a meditative state of higher consciousness. It’s not stoic indifference, becoming “philosophical” about life. It’s not about having an easygoing personality, or having low expectations so you’re easy to please. It’s not retreat from the troubles of life and the commotion of other people. It’s not retirement to a life of ease and wealth, the quiet of having nothing to do and no worries. It’s not the pleasant fatigue that follows a hard day’s work or a hard workout. It’s not the quieting of inner noise that a glass of wine or a daily dose of Prozac produces. Also notice that this Psalm was written by King David. He was a kingdom-builder in real life, real time. He expected—and achieved— huge things in the midst of commotion and trouble. He experienced pressure, joy, heartache, outrage, affection, courage. So Psalm 131’s inner quiet comes in the midst of actions, relationships, and problems.
– A quiet heart is born out of a humble heart. Have you ever noticed that even when you feel lousy about yourself you are still judgmental towards others? When you feel inferior to others, you don’t admire and respect them, or treat them with merciful consideration. Instead, you envy, hate, nitpick, grumble, and criticize. Even self-belittling tendencies—“low self-esteem,” selfpity, self-hatred, timidity, fearfulness, diffidence, fears of failure and rejection—fundamentally express pride failing, pride intimidated, and pride despairing.
– This composure is learned, and it is learned in relationship. Such purposeful quiet is achieved, not spontaneous. It is conscious, alert, and chosen. It is a form of self-mastery by the grace of God: “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul.” And it happens in living relationship with Christ.
– Dying to your restless, fretful, and irritable ways does not come easily. There is no technique, automatic formula, or pat answer. You have to literally level your soul in order to quiet it. You have to silence the noise and tumult that wars inside of you. You have to “Sssshhh” your desires, fears, opinions, anxieties, agendas, and irritabilities.
– The Psalmist uses the picture of a young child who has been weaned off his mother’s milk. Envision your own soul as a small child sitting on your lap. You used to be noisy, squirmy, and demanding. Now you sit still. That’s the picture of learning peace.
– Finally, the psalm gives us a command to hope in the Lord. Our Lord is Jesus Christ, He is our hope. Pride dies as the humility of faith lives. Haughtiness lowers its eyes as the dependency of hope lifts up its eyes.
And this is what I am trying to preach at myself today.