Do you feel paralyzed by making decisions? Do you ever wonder if God is watching every decision you make, ready to “tsk tsk” if you go too far to the right or too far to the left? Do you worry you’ll get it wrong and end up on God’s B-plan? Or even worse?
Who wants to live like that? Life isn’t supposed to be a mine-field, with every step holding mysterious terror. But women who have been emotionally or spiritually abused often catch their breath over all kinds of choices they need to make, afraid of making the wrong decision and incurring the wrath of someone in “authority” over them.
We can believe in the core of our being that God must be the same way. Waiting for us to just SCREW UP so He can shake His head in sorrow.
I’ve got a new way of looking at this crazy trap we find ourselves in. And it involves a rat maze and a garden. Let’s take a look:
The Rat Maze
Picture a sterile room with a series of large, intricate rat mazes on a white floor. There is a man in a white lab coat with a pair of black rimmed glasses taking meticulous notes on a clipboard. Once in a while, he looks at one of the rat mazes with a serious, academic expression on his face. You follow his gaze to see a healthy looking rat rapidly shuffling through the maze, figuring out each trick as he goes along.
When the rat goes the wrong way or makes a mistake, Lab Man scowls slightly, scoops it up with a flourish and deposits it carefully at the beginning of the next rat maze where the rat is given another chance at a new maze. Then Lab Man scratches out some more notes on his clipboard in a clinical manner.
Now picture a lush garden covered with a verdant floor and ancient strong tree trunks supporting a green canopy with azure blue peeking through the leaves above. Ripe fruit hangs from vines and trees, and flowers and foliage of every kind growing in beautiful abandon burst upon the senses with color and texture.
This wildly beautiful world goes on and on as far as the eye can see. And right in the middle you see a father with his child. He bends down to whisper something in her ear, and she laughs and begins to run with excitement, exploring, touching, calling out to her father in delight at each new discovery.
You see her pick up something with prickles, and it stings her hand. She cries out in dismay, and her father gently takes the prickle thing and lays it aside, soothing her and setting her free again to resume her adventures.
She falls down at one point, and once again, her father is there to pick her up, give her some advice, and then set her along her way. When he turns his face, you can see it is lit up with pleasure and peace.
Which Way Do You View Life?
Life is a Rat Maze
Life is a series of puzzles for you to figure out and GET RIGHT! Don’t go this way. Go that way. NO! Stop. Go back. Wrong turn. Good job, you did it right that time. Here comes a trick. Don’t mess it up! Use your head! Augh. You screwed that one up, but another one is coming. Maybe you’ll do better this time. Here we go. NOOOOOOOO! Can’t you get anything right? Now you’ll need to start all over on a new rat maze, because you messed this one up, big time.
Life is a Garden
There is so much to explore! Beauty to discover! And yes, prickles and pits to sting and stumble into. But you are free to take delight in the precious life you were given, and your purpose in it is simply to enjoy each moment and LIVE it to the fullest.
Which Way Do You View Yourself?
You are a Rat Being Watched by Lab Man
You aren’t worth all that much. You’re kind of repulsive, when you really look at yourself in the mirror. Your sole purpose is to fulfill someone else’s objective, and if you don’t do it right or in the correct time frame or in just the specific, certain, particular way you SHOULD…well.
BAM! You lose.
You are relegated to Rat Maze Two. Then Rat Maze Three. Until there are no more rat mazes, because you’re such a loser.
You are a Beloved and Protected Daughter
You are free to run and play and work because your Father loves you. You are beautiful and perfectly suited to your purpose in the garden. You don’t have to try to be a better you. You’re already perfectly you, and it’s perfectly lovely. Do you prefer to work alone and drink tea? TERRIFIC! Are you the life of the party who is a bit scatterbrained when it comes to keeping your files in order? FABULOUS!
You don’t have to earn your place in the garden. It’s been freely given to you. It’s your inheritance as a daughter of the Owner. If you were to sit in the middle of it, weeping profusely because you had no idea which way to go first, and you just didn’t want to make any mistakes, how would that Father feel?
If you had a daughter sitting in the middle of a garden, weeping profusely because she had no idea which way to go first, and she just didn’t want to make any mistakes, would that not break your heart? You’d want to tell her, “Don’t worry about mistakes! Just enjoy! Just run! Just explore! Just LIVE!” And you’d be thrilled if she got up and did so.
So why would YOU sit in the middle of your life doing the same?
Which Way Do You View God?
God is Lab Man
Is God a cold, calculated academic just viewing you as an expendable lab experiment? Sheesh. No wonder you’re afraid of making a mistake.
God is Your Father
Or is God your Father Who has your back? Will He be there to pick up the pieces when you break something? Will He guide you and guard you? Will He let you make mistakes (because every good parent knows that’s the best way to learn incredible lessons?)
No matter what other people in the garden say or do, you’ve got your best interests covered in this scenario. This frees you up to enjoy life and be the woman your Creator designed you to be.
Real Gospel Grace is freedom and joy and peace. Not fear and shame. Did you catch that? If your spiritual community is all about controlling people with fear and shame, it’s not of Christ. It’s toxic, satanic, crapola. Period. Time to leave the rat tales behind and enter into your inheritance as a daughter of the King!
So I have an exercise for you to get you started.
- Go to a mirror and look at yourself. Say OUT LOUD, “Self, God gave you to me to steward, but I haven’t taken responsibility for you. I’ve neglected you and thrown you under the bus in an effort to get love from other places. No more. From now on, I’ve got your back. From now on, I intend to take care of YOU. I commit to figuring out who you are and taking steps to set you free to be everything God made you to be. You are loved by your Father in Heaven – and me. Between the two of us, you are going to go from dying to thriving.” Seriously. Do it.
- Take a notebook, and for one week write down your emotions whenever something happens that makes you feel guilty, ashamed, unloved, or fearful. Write down what’s causing those emotions. What happened? What were you thinking? What were people telling you? What were the voices inside your head telling you? You are going to begin to observe yourself objectively. After a week, you should be able to read everything and see some patterns.