“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” Romans 16:20 (NIV)
Do you ever have one of those weeks where it hits so hard that you are literally pushed to your breaking point, and you feel like you are losing your mind? You know, one of those weeks where, despite every tool in your tool belt, you end up not only losing your cool repeatedly, but you are not even sure that you deserve to be called a Christian?
For me, last week had been exactly that kind of week. People were getting under my skin and actually making me mad. If that weren’t enough, it seemed that every single irritating and impossible circumstance decided to join in on the fun! Three days this week, I yelled at people that I love, and I found myself crying throughout most of the remaining moments. It wasn’t until Thursday that it hit me…the sneaky little liar had hijacked my focus again!
There is part of me that wishes that I could see Satan’s tricks as clearly as Jesus did. Jesus was never taken by surprise—like I typically am—when the attack comes. In fact, Jesus slept through a storm peacefully (Matthew 8:24), knowing that the other side was just a matter of time. Jesus knew that none of the noise that the storm produced was capable of replacing what God had started. Me, on the other hand? I see the waves rising and the boat rocking, and I either panic in straight-out fear, or I get angry at the “unfairness” of the path that I’ve been given. My control, confusion, anxiety, judgment, and self-centeredness have a family reunion during storm season. It seems like my emotions have a party whenever chaos ensues around me. I am realizing that I need a reality check when my temperature rises and falls like a thermometer instead of remaining steady like a thermostat. Sometimes, my emotions, and perspective, can send me straight into “5 Alarm Fire Mode” altogether.
Thermometer. Thermostat. I had read about this philosophy and had even heard podcasts on it. Essentially, a person with a “thermometer personality” is one whose emotional state rises and falls with the circumstances around them. When things get heated, “thermometers” get HOT, and when things are cold, they freeze, as well. The problem with this response habit is that it gives the enemy the battleground he needs to scar you, or others, with the flat-out lies he swings. It also takes away the very things that Jesus died on the cross to give us: peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, love, self-control, joy, and ultimately freedom. After that last week, I actually asked myself, “Self… God…is it even possible for a fiery, emotional gal like me to be a thermostat?”
My answer came in Scripture and Truth spoken from the wisdom of my co-worker. My friend gets to see ALL of my glorious eruptions of chaos and panic that happen despite my best attempts to stay calm, cool, and collected. When I asked her my question, she reminded me that we are all human and that we are not expected to be perfect in our responses. She reminded me that part of the process of maturing in our relationship with Christ IS to fail, repent, and then move on from Grace to Grace. From this thought-provoking conversation, I turned to the Word for answers.
The first answer came in Romans 12:18 (NIV). It says,
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
This means that first, and foremost, I have a responsibility to actively do what I am capable of doing to reflect the light of Christ in my words and actions. While I cannot be perfect, I can pay attention to those things that tend to steal my peace and joy, and I can also become aware of the things that ruffle my feathers. When I notice a pattern, as I did that week, then I can do something to keep the peace. For instance, I can hold my tongue and pray for help on my “I’m so exhausted I can’t think” days. I can walk away from situations that contribute to my anxious feelings. I can also pay attention to the fact that my strongest emotional responses happen either when I am afraid of something falling apart, or when I feel undervalued or unappreciated. FYI, all of these are control issues that stem from my lack of faith that God will cover what I can’t, or they come from the identity issues that I am not enough with my flaws.
Every single time I lose my grits, I know that my perspective has been stolen. It almost always takes a breakdown, or two, before I recognize the Liar doing what he does best, LYING to me! The Bible says in Genesis 50:20 (NIV),
“ You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
It also says,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
When I am rested, I can clearly see what God is doing, and that He is lovingly and patiently growing me in the middle of the storm. When I feel renewed and rejuvenated, I find myself appreciating the battles, because I know that not only do I win eventually, but that when I do overcome this storm, I will be ready for the next blessing or breakthrough. The epiphany, that hit me like a lightning bolt to my brain, is that if I can start putting on my “God Glasses,” then I CAN be a THERMOSTAT.
I’m realizing that someone with a “thermostat personality” is simply a person who stands in full faith and confidence that all will work out for the good, even when they cannot see it. They do NOT take things personally. They DO their best, and they let God do the rest. They do NOT take on responsibilities that God hasn’t specifically called them to do. They DO view people from God’s view and extend grace and love. They do NOT take on others’ judgments as a part of who they are. They DO run to the Father for guidance and reassurance about who they are. Thermostat people have a higher perspective and a bigger purpose than the battles that they are fighting. They trust God and find comfort in his protective hands. Thermostats stay steadily consistent by replacing the lies with His Truth.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly peace, joy, and confidence overtake me when I get to the end of me and to the beginning of God’s merciful power. What typically starts as a “relational” or “worldly” issue instantly becomes small when I expose the lies. Let me give you an example. I went to work to finish a project on a day that I had set aside to rest after a speaking engagement. Because of an impending deadline, the project had to be done. Since I was tired, I was short with everyone and actually left work that night in tears, facing the impossibility of finishing the project in time. I had more work to do than what was possible, a son at home who needed my attention, and my tank was empty. The lies began to flood in. They said, “See! You’ll never get this done, you loser! If you had just reprioritized a month ago, you wouldn’t be in this position. No one at work cares about you. Actually, nobody really does. You are weak, and you are a wreck. Just look at you falling apart again.” Pretty dramatic, I know.
Although the lies flooded in, I knew where to go. I sat with God and just poured out every worry, every regret, every fear, and every need that I had. From there, the following Scripture became my stone that took down the lying giant in front of me:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
I said, “Okay, God, YOU love me, and YOU ARE faithful. Thank you for helping me in my time of need and for carrying me through this! I know that you will have yet another mercy for me in the morning.” And that, He did.
Not only did God help me through the whole project overnight, but he gave me a team of people to put the finishing touches on the project while I slept the next day. Every day of that week, it was a back-and-forth tug-of-war between lying circumstances and God’s Promises. While I’m still working on my Thermostat responses, and recognizing Satan when he appears, I am getting better about saying, “Bring it, Satan! You are a liar, liar, pants on fire! God’s got this, and you can’t win!”
I have become determined to change my “go-to” responses and name the lies that surround life’s battles. On March 26th, I will be turning the Big 4-0, and I see this as a perfect turning point in which I put into practice the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The truth is that words can, and do, hurt. Even so, it is MY CHOICE how long I marinate in the lies and how quickly I turn to the healing and powerful words of God’s Truth! In my next 40 years, I DECLARE WAR on the lies of the enemy! Our God Can! I choose to TRUST that He Will, in His Timing and in His Perfect Way, work ALL things together for good (even my flaws).
So, the next time you find yourself up in arms, ask yourself the question, as I will also be doing, “Which voice am I listening to?” Are we listening to the “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire” and looking only at what is wrong? Or, are we looking to “The One” who never refuses to provide and protect us in our times of need, most often surrounding us with daily miracles? For me, I choose to refocus on God’s goodness, and ENJOY the life I’ve been given. What about you?
In Jesus’s Great Name!