I was sitting at Chick-Fil-A with a friend last week when I looked down and noticed an earring-back lying on the table. My hands went to my ears, and I realized that one of the silver studs I'd been wearing was gone.
My friend and I scanned the table and the floor; I combed over my scarf and shook out my jacket. It was gone. And Chick-Fil-A was the third place I'd been since leaving home, so the earring could have been anywhere.
They were brand-new earrings, a gift from my parents. I had a pair of silver ball studs like these before, and I wore them almost every day until the cheap silver coating started to peel off. So my mom had gotten me a nicer, sterling silver pair for Christmas.
My inner monologue went something like this: "It's all your fault. It was so stupid of you to wear those with loose backs. You *knew* those backs were looser than they should have been. Why would you wear nice earrings with loose backs? Stupid. I can't believe you did that. And now it's gone."
It's not like they were hundred-dollar diamond earrings. And it's not like they were irreplaceable heirlooms handed down from a beloved grandmother. I tried to tell myself, "It's just STUFF...this isn't worth getting so upset about." But still I felt sick about it, mad at myself.
Given that earlier that evening, I'd just had my first counseling session, I journaled a little and asked my counselor if she thought that reaction was normal. [You're in counseling? Yes, yes I am. Truth be told, I think we could all use someone to come alongside us from time to time and help us grow in our ability to think biblically and love well...and it should be happening a lot more in the church, informally. No major crises in my life, just feeling "stuck" in the same old, same old struggles and sins. A friend of mine has been seeing this counselor for quite some time and has had great things to say. I feel blessed to be getting some help from her now, too.]
"Normal?" Pamela responded when we talked this week. "Well, it's not the way God would have you talk to His beloved daughter. It's not godly self-talk. God doesn't talk to you that way. If He admonishes us, it's not in a condemning tone. Romans 8:1 tells us that."
I was expecting, I suppose, some sort of analysis of my thought process. Instead, Pamela's simple, straightforward words sliced sharply through my self-absorption.
Her comments have been on a loop in my mind ever since. Would I talk to the teenage girl I mentor that way? Never. Would I use this tone of voice with my best friend? I wouldn't think of it. Would I berate my sisters in the church like this? No, no, no. Even if I did think one of these precious women had done something dumb, I wouldn't dream of addressing her with the tone or the words inside my own head.
So why do I think it's OK to talk to myself that way?
No brilliant, tidy conclusions to this post; I guess one of the things Pamela and I will be exploring is how to silence that harsh inner critic and replace condemnation with conviction. Just wanted to share some food for thought while I am still "in process," before I can tie it all up with a bow :)
Oh, and the earring? Pamela found it it in her office. It must have snagged and fallen out when I took my scarf off. The kindness of God, in the midst of my mess.