(Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash)
First up, this isn't a "let Jesus take the wheel" post. As much as I believe that the Christian life is about submission to Christ, I also believe that it's not a very helpful mental picture to see Jesus as the sole driver of our car/life. This picture can give us the sense that we have got no control of our lives whatsoever, that God is really just wanting us to be robots. It means we don't have a will, which therefore takes away our humanity.
Rather, I've learnt that I've very much got the wheel. So now I have a choice. What's driving me?
While I was studying Psychology at Uni, I was intrigued by the idea of "self-fulfilling prophecies". The basic idea behind self-fulfilling prophecies (as far as I remember) is that the labels we give things is very powerful. If we label another person as "quiet and introverted", what happens is that we probably relate to the person that way. The person will probably react to your behaviour by being "quiet and introverted", which will then confirm the label, whether it is true or not. It is therefore "self-fulfilling".
Recently, I read that one of the key psychologists that contributed to the DSM-IV (the manual used by mental health practitioners to help diagnose clients' issues) had spoken about his concern that depression is being overdiagnosed in society. He wrote about how we are "medicalising normal everyday experiences" rather than teach people how to cope with everyday stressors. When we categorise our emotions and difficulties as a medical issue we then behave very differently because of it. I HAVE depression, a de-personalised medical issue that exists outside of my person, rather than I have difficulties managing my emotions.
I hope that you don't get the impression that I'm downplaying the impact of depression. I've seen so many people struggle with it, and the disastrous effects it can have on a person. What I'm trying to point out is that the way we see ourselves and the road in front of us have massive impact on what we do.
So what's driving me? What labels do I give myself? Are they faith-filled or are they fear-filled? Do they inspire or deflate? Are they Biblical or not?
For the longest time in my life, I felt that I had the label of "unproven" on me. I was a young leader. I hadn't done enough to show that I was worthy of respect and honour. So I worked extra hard. I would start work earlier than others, and keep going when others had stopped. And I was always frustrated and angry when I wasn't acknowledged. I pulled away from those that didn't seem to notice me, mainly because I was afraid that I would never measure up in their eyes. This label sapped my energy, my confidence, and my faith.
I realise now that a more accurate label for me is that I'm a "work in progress". I've got nothing to prove because I've got a lot of my journey in front of me. The Bible gives me confidence that God knows my weaknesses and still graces me for the journey ahead. Sometimes I still worry about what others think of me. Then I remember that such thinking drives me wrong. I want to be driven by God's grace. I want to see the amazing things He is already doing in me.
What's driving you?