Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Peeling Back the Layers

I was riding in a friend’s car once and noticed a little square of black electrical tape stuck on the face of the dashboard. Curious, I asked what it was there for.

“Oh, it’s nothing, just that annoying little check engine light. I can’t get it to turn off, so I covered it up. The car is running okay anyway.”

Foolish? Perhaps. Those ‘trouble’ lights are there for a reason and when we ignore them, a small problem can sometimes turn into a much bigger issue.

Lately, I’m realizing that I have ‘trouble’ lights of my own that I don’t always pay attention to, and I’m not talking about my car. There are any number of small indicators in how I respond to the issues of life that hint at some underlying problem. It’s often easier to ignore the signs than to dig a little deeper to see what lies beneath.

For instance, when I get annoyed or impatient at how slowly something that is outside of my control is happening, I often treat the symptoms with several deep breaths and a treat or a distraction of some kind. My coping mechanisms are like putting a band-aid on my check engine light. Getting to the bottom of things takes time and hard work. It can be painful to discover that my annoyance might be due to my own issues.

When I’ve taken the time to examine the ‘why’ behind my emotions, I’ve occasionally been forced to recognize a need to be in control just below the surface. If I peel back that layer, I discover fear tucked away underneath it. Fear that the result I am hoping for will not happen if I don’t make it happen, fear of failure. Where does that come from? One layer deeper, and I realize that I’m actually afraid of being judged or measured by my performance. And hidden beneath that is the lie that my worth is based on how people see me. I’m not even going to touch on how pride figures into all of that.

Once I’ve peeled back enough layers to discover the lie that is so often at the root of my lack of peace, I can do something about it. Repentance is a good place to start. Follow that with the choice to actively trust in God and what He says is true. He says that my worth is incalculable, and it doesn’t change. I am precious in His eyes. It is not dependent on my performance or what people think of me.

Now, when I find myself shaking a fist at a driver who insists on moving 20 km/hour below the speed limit, I automatically catch myself. I don’t have to start from scratch this time. I remember what was under the surface when I peeled back the layers the last time and give myself a little shake. The annoyance drains away as I am reminded of who I am and who God is, and that He is in control. It’s quicker and more effective than chocolate… and easier on my waistline.