As a young mother, I found a bedraggled face staring back at me from the bathroom mirror. My shirt was soaked with spit up over my shoulder and down my back and I had two nothing-to-see-here breast milk headlights that were only going to get worse. I didn’t smell any better than I looked and aside from stuffing my bra with nicely folded toilet paper, there was very little hope for me at that point. The baby, on the other hand, was immaculate. If he didn’t look and smell like a Johnson & Johnson scratch and sniff ad in a woman’s magazine, I would change him into one of the many, many spare outfits I would pack in the enormous bad that I schlepped around around. He not only had clean, fresh clothing and toiletries, but medical supplies, a grooming kit, bedding, toys, a camera to capture his fabulosness and reference material should I face an unfamiliar situation. I packed what he needed for sure, what he might need, what he probably wouldn’t need but it would be nice to have and then I multiplied it by a factor of 50 and added a few more items. As I looked at the walking exhibit of human excretion that I had become, I wondered why it never occurred to me to pack a spare T-shirt for myself. All of me was completely engrossed in serving this 12 pounds of humanity. There was no concern from myself to myself even though I was the source of life and what would preserve this parasite. I was the host. Without me, he was screwed and yet I had no provision for my own preservation. I couldn’t even use the chap stick because I thought it should stay sterile in case I needed to use it on his precious little bow lips. If I became dehydrated or–more likely–was forced to suffer emotional trauma while sporting crusty while bulls-eyes of dried breast milk on my blouse–there was nothing in the bag for me.
In terms of my spiritual life, my flesh is that baby. It is demanding and coddled and pampered and I spend way too much time taking care of it while my eternal Soul–the real me–is tired and neglected. My love affair with my flesh is so deep and torrid and all consuming. It is like taking care of a baby . . . a baby gorilla! It is all so cute and sweet at first but pretty soon you are just trying to get through a feeding with out getting your arm ripped out of the socket which will surely be used to beat you senseless. Why does the airline tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves FIRST before our children? Because if we pass out, no one will be able to take care of them. There is deep wisdom here. If we take care of our children to the detriment of our souls and our marriages, no one will be there to truly take care of our children. If we pamper our flesh to the exclusion of our souls, we will lose our connection with God which power to take care of ourselves in truly significant and meaningful ways.
Think of your Truth Book as a little corner of the diaper bag for mom. In your purse full of amenities for your flesh–it is there for your soul. The real you–the eternal you–the you that truly matters throughout all time.
Know the Terrain
My every day walk is as intentional as I choose to make it. I have spent too many years going through my life assuming that conflict, anger, frustration and disappointment are just par for the course. Ahhh, the good old days when I allowed myself the privilege of thinking that other people’s actions are to blame for of my negative thoughts and behaviors. I should clarify that they were MY good old days . . .they weren’t good for anyone else. When you make yourself a Truth Book, you are choosing to make your walk intentional and take responsibility to keep your baby gorilla in line. You are coming into a situation with a badly behaving preschooler and an exhausted mother. You are your own Holy Spirit-Super Nanny and you are going to give the Soul-Mom tools to settle down the flesh-kid.
Just the Right Tools
There is no such thing as a one size fits all survival kit–I think this is a perfect time to point out that there is not a one size fits all night gown either and anyone who markets one as such is just asking for trouble, but I digress. Survival kits are unique to the situation and the subject. If you ventured to put together a survival kit that would address every individual in every possible situation, you would need to rent a truck to carry it. Everything that anyone would need from waterproof matches to iodine pills would be right there in the U-Haul. At any given time, you probably only need a few items. The diabetic hiker might take a signal mirror and some glucose tablets. The Alaskan bush pilot might select a radio and an emergency Mylar blanket. Before leaving on a road trip, the driver might pack jumper cables and flares. Does the lift raft patch kit have more intrinsic value than a syringe with epinephrine? Outside of a situation framework they are both equally valuable, utilitarian items. But given the right set of circumstances, one could save your life.
The Bible is our one-size-fits-all survival kit for our journey through spiritual, emotional and relationship journeys in our life. In it, God has provided everything that everyone needs for every situation. It is His U-Haul truck full of survival items and all of them are good and useful. We have blessed access to all Truth all the time. Praise God for that! It should be our joy to get in there and touch and feel every tool in that truck. We might never need the Rattlesnake Anti venom but we should know where it is just in case we meet someone who does. We all have specific needs from God’s inventory of survival tools. Your Truth Book becomes the little fanny pack–gross, who ears a fanny pack–back pack of items that will serve you. I needed to pack tools to address fear and anger. Only you can know what you may need to pull from the available tools to have right on hand should you get into trouble.
Timing is Everything
This would be a bad project to take on if you can’t manage to seat yourself into a good mental place. you should be prayed up, connected with God and not under stress, in a hurry, hungry or otherwise compromised. The Super Nanny always shows up in a uniform, with hair coiffed and her game face on. You need to bring that kind of presence to this project. Here is what the Truth Book can become if you aren’t very careful:
- Condemnation of yourself or others
- Judgement of yourself or others
- An excuse for bad behavior
- An Indictment of yourself or others
- A confirmation of the very lies that got us here
- An anchor that pulls you farther in to the ocean of crapulence
I often hear people say “The truth shall set you free.” Leave it to the enemy to take what is true and change it just enough to make it a lie. John 8:32 says “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It isn’t in two sentences. It is indivisible. The truth you KNOW will set you free. Taking on the Truth Book requires a certain amount of knowledge of two kinds of Truth. God’s Truth needs to be resident inside you and you need an understanding of where you spin out. You know that God is love, you know that you are His righteousness in Christ, you know that His promises for you are Yes and Amen! You also realize that you struggle with self-wroth, unforgiveness, anger or fear. It doesn’t mean you have it down, it just means you can access it. If you don’t feel like you know enough of God’s truth to be made free, work on the Truth Book with someone whom you trust who can come alongside you. If you know lots of God’s truth but are still living in the world where all of your problems are someone else’s fault, you need to find a trusted friend who is brave enough (because I’ll just bet you’re a firecracker) to suggest places where you might need a little truth. Like, I don’t know, let’s say that giant telephone pole sticking out of your right eye that keeps clubbing everyone you get close to in the head. If you doubt that, ask the people around you, just don’t be surprised if they duck when they see you coming.
Know your Audience
Your Truth Book is a letter from your best and highest Holy-Spirit-Connected-Soul-self to your flesh-kid self in a heated moment of haze and chaos or in the depths of despair or anxiety. Think of it as a friend who will follow you around and keep you in check. Imagine someone by your side as you slip into some destructive behavior to gently put hands on your shoulders and say “Hey, we talked about this, honey. You don’t really want to go there. Let me remind you how much better things are the other way.” The tone is God’s tone. It is loving and warm and kind and compassionate. There is no condemnation or judgement, there is only love and truth.
This letter can only come from you to you. Only you know how you think and where you stumble. Only you can call you out on your secret thought patters and little snugly trysts with those trampy twins we know as s Self Pity and Self Righteousness. Only you truly know when you allow yourself to soak in a hot spring of anger or cool river of despair. It takes great courage to look into these patterns of behavior and thinking with the honest intentions of God. Just like walking with a physical limp is a result of a physical trauma of to the body, these patterns of thinking and behavior may be the result of some emotional or spiritual trauma. The physical therapist doesn’t need to know how you injured your leg to be able to assist you in healing. Your current condition is enough to inform her. You don’t need to know how you got here. Just present your limp and let’s get to walking it out.
Prayerfully consider where you are likely to stumble in terms of thought patterns or behavior. Here are some of the likely candidates:
- God will love me regardless of my performance in life.
- God has provided and will continue to provide enough for me and my family.
- I love the people at my Church and know that God wants me to bound together in one body with them.
- My Children are safe and happy and I am confident that God will watch over them when I am not present.
- My Marriage is a lifelong commitment between me and my husband. We love each other passionately and have joy in our relationship.
- God will give me wisdom to face the challenges of blending our two families and being a good step-parent.
- My mouth will be a fountain of life-affirming words over my husband, my children and my entire household.
- I am completely forgiven and walk in righteousness and freedom!
- I forgive those who have sinned against me and carry no grudges for past wrongs.