Raise your hand if the question ‘What is wrong with me?’ has ever come skipping across your thoughts or out of your mouth.
Both of my hands are raised.
This is a reflex response for me when I encounter what feels abnormal or unfamiliar or unpleasant inside. But it’s not a healthy or productive response. Actually, it can be pretty destructive. Why?
I’m glad you asked.
First, a little context.
If you follow me even the slightest bit you know I’m a new mom. I’ve shared funny observations, lessons from God, honest thoughts and more. A baby, not unlike other transitions such as graduations or marriage, is a massive adjustment. It shifts pretty much everything, 99% of the time in a wonderful way, but there’s that little bit that simply feels a little like a free fall into depths unknown. There is quick, sudden changes like ‘Woah, this living breathing human is utterly dependent on me’ and slow, gradual changes like ‘Okay, what I want needs to take a back seat for a little while here.’ Isn’t that a little like ALL of life though?
Every morning brings an entirely new set of scenarios than the day before. Every season we have different goals, intentions and circumstances. Every year another 365 passes that won’t be like the next 365. All the time we are being sanctified by God, renewed and conformed into the image of Christ. There is change we invite — a habit, discipline or way of thinking — and then change maybe we wanted to avoid — a loss, struggle or painful situation.
“This feels so unlike me. What is wrong with me?” I say to my husband.
To which he responds, “Nothing.”
He went on to explain that because I’m experiencing unfamiliar territory, surprising internal responses and overwhelming emotions doesn’t mean something is wrong with me, it simply means it’s all new to me.
It’s not the right question to ask.
‘What is wrong with me?’ is directed solely at our identity, and it often accompanied by hyper-self-judgment or condemnation.
Maybe the better question to ask ourselves is, What is true?
‘What is wrong with me?’ can lead to despair, stress and shame.
‘What is true?’ can lead to clarity, connection and peace.
We are not omniscient as God is. We can’t know everything, about ourselves, our lives or what is ahead for us. We can’t be perfectly prepared for everything. In our limitations, we take experiences as they come, and we adapt, learn and continue forward.
What is true for me right now: I’ve only been a mom for 4 months. There are new feelings, thoughts and desires, along with new circumstances, decisions to be made and relational dynamics to consider. When I feel uncommonly unsure, overprotective or nervous, God isn’t looking at me wanting me to hurry up and figure it out or get my act together. It’s uncommon because I’ve never given birth to a person I love more than anything in the world before! All He has for me is what He always has: grace, mercy, goodness, love, faithfulness, comfort, strength, among so many other aspects of His nature.
Just because you feel a little (or a lot!) different when change comes doesn’t mean you’re off the rails, it simply means you’re going in a new direction, or traveling through new land, or in a new kind of car.
Like Moses, we ask, “who am I to do this hard work and be faithful to what You ask of me?” And God says, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3)