His words slammed me sideways as the familiar, bleak, dreadful refrain reverberated through me.
“He shouldn’t be saying that,” I lamented to myself, “This has been my negative, self-assessment.”
How could my third-born son voice my sentiment? Especially when there was absolutely no way on earth that such a thought was true about him????
Yet, he voiced it. Without prompting, without encouragement, without hesitation. My son uttered the words and shared the feeling that I’ve felt for much of my life.
He said, “I don’t feel good enough.”
I scanned through a lifetime of memories to ascertain if I’d ever spoken such a word over my child. I honestly couldn’t think of a moment when this could have happened. However, just because I cannot recollect something, doesn’t mean that my son hasn’t picked up on my own insecurity somehow and taken the feeling for his own. I never wanted to model this kind of negative thinking. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
“Well, this won’t do,” I said to myself. “I don’t want my child to bear this fear-inducing thought for the rest of his life.”
Since our family began our shelter-in-place life, we have been reciting 2 Timothy 1:7 daily. We begin our school day, declaring 2 Timothy 1:7 as our battle cry over the fear and uncertainty of our current life – especially as we continue to wait to return home to South Africa.
It’s an incredible verse.
Here are a few different translations that I particularly like:
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline.
New Living Translation
For the spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
New International Version
For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them, and enjoy being with them.
The Living Bible
For the spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead the Spirit fills us with power, love and self-discipline.
Good News Translation
For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit give you mighty power, love and self-control.
The Passion Translation
The boys and I personalize the verse and declare God’s powerful truth each morning before we begin school:
For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline.
After eight weeks of reciting this phrase, we’ve memorized it, of course. Yet, are we living it?
The Lord has given my sons, my husband, you, and me a gift. This gift is Himself. His Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live courageously as Jesus did, to love and come alongside others as Jesus did, and to walk rightly and justly as Jesus did. The Holy Spirit is an incredible mediator between our fears and the deep and wide love of God. In other words, the Holy Spirit works within us to bridge the divide between our fears, insecurities, and negative thoughts and the expansive, welcoming love of God.
He did not give us a spirit of fear. Cowardice, easily-overcome-by-worry-and-despair, afraid of this-that-and-every-other-person-and-thing, and/or discouraged and ensnared by negative self-thought-and-talk, guess what?! None of this hurtful stuff came from our Lord, his Son, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It’s not a Trinity kind of gift. Not now, not ever.
Instead, the Spirit gives us power. This is a strength that bears up under significant trial and hardship. This is a dynamic that triumphs despite discrimination, mistreatment and persecution. This is a force that repels adversary and evil. This is a vitality that endures suffering. This is a tenacious, I’ve-got-you Spirit that inspires us to live life with a holy courage.
We have been given a spirit of power.
And the spirit of love.
Indeed, we have been gifted the love of Jesus to hear, to believe, to hope and to endure all things this side of heaven. This fruit of the Spirit, love, is an earmark of the follower of Christ. We love boldly. We love consistently. We love patiently. We love compassionately. We love others through their greatest difficulties and their deepest sorrows. We love fearlessly.
The Holy Spirit has also gifted us with self-discipline – a sound mind. We are empowered to act with prudence and discretion. We view matters with thought and care. We are calm and discerning. We are self-controlled in our thinking. We don’t allow negative thoughts to run amuck within us and make us feel badly about ourselves. Right???? Right???? Right????
Oh, right. I remember.
My child feels that he isn’t good enough sometimes.
I feel that way, too.
This fearful way of thinking makes us feel inferior, insecure, and lacking.
Yet, this is the thing I want my son to know, God doesn’t make us feel that way. My son and I have allowed this ugly, disheartening, discouraging, untrue , unkind, and unhelpful thought to prevent us from receiving and living into the power, love, and self-discipline that is ours through Jesus Christ. He has given us the power to work miracles, to confound enemies, to love and support others, and to do the right thing in His sight – this side of eternity!
So, what are we waiting for???
Well, to put it bluntly, we are waiting for us.
What is it going to take to transform our negative thought patterns and truly embrace the strengthening force and might of the Holy Spirit’s gifts of power, love, self-control, joy, patience, perseverance, and more???
So, I developed a tool for my son and me. This is a four-question self-assessment I came up with for our family to try in the next few weeks. You’ve seen some of these questions before – but they were directed in our behavior towards others. These questions are self-directed with the intent of embracing the truths of 2 Timothy 1:7 that are available to us now.
I am encouraging our family to ask ourselves four questions when besieged by a negative thought.
We will ask ourselves:
Is this thought kind?
Am I showing myself kindness when I think this way?
Would I ever say this word to someone else?
Is this thought helpful?
Does this thought help me or anyone else?
Does this thought connect me to others with love and respect?
Will this thought pattern cause me to draw closer to those I love and care for? Or do these thoughts cause me to self-protect, defend, or isolate myself from them?
Is this thought something that Jesus would ever say to me?
Jesus stretched out his arms in love to us, dying on a cross in our place for the forgiveness of our sins – once and for all. Every negative thought, every hurtful word, every fear and insecurity were taken up and away from us by Jesus. He died for these distressing thoughts and then he defeated them three days later when Jesus rose from the grave. The miraculous power that brought Jesus back to life is the same life-giving power and amazing love that Jesus gives to us now. Would he ever, ever, ever condemn us with the fear-inducing, worry-ensnaring thought that ‘we are not good enough?’
After all, the Spirit given to us by God isn’t a fearful spirit; it’s a spirit of power, love, and prudence.
New Testament for Everyone Translation
Instead, our family is going to live this truth – we have been given power, love and self-control through the Holy Spirit. We’ll start by confronting our negative thought patterns and ask ourselves four questions:
Is this thought kind?
Is this thought helpful?
Does this thought connect me to those I love and care for in my life?
Is this thought something Jesus would ever say to me?
And if the answers are ‘no, and no, and no, and emphatically no’ then we’ll determine right then and there to stop thinking that way!!!
I don’t want my child to think he is not good enough.
I need to stop thinking this way, myself.
We have the gift of the Holy Spirit – and there is no way that God, His Son, or the Spirit would ever desire us to be ensnared by fearful, negative thinking. Instead, we are strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
We’ll begin with confronting the negative thought with these four questions and believe that God’s power, love and self-control are at work within us as we do.
Do you ever think in a negative way about yourself?
Would you like to believe that gifts of power, love, and self-discipline are yours in Christ?
Would these four questions assist you in beginning to form a new pathway in your thinking and self-assessment?
We are giving it a go and desiring to model this power, this love, and this self-discipline of Jesus.