Some call it self-talk. Others consider it our attitude. Regardless of terminology, we all are aware of the voices in our heads that challenge us, work against our values, make us feel worthless, and confuse us about our deepest commitments. What is this really about?
Before I write further on this topic, I want to introduce my first book to you among many that I hope to discuss on SR. As a person of faith, I hunger for meditations and studies that help me think deeper, reach further, and communicate clearer about my religious life. For me, Christianity is a reality by which everything else comes fully to light. In this light I desire to live a life that is generous, hopeful, creative and simple.
The book I am currently loving is The Crown and the Fire by N.T. Wright. Wright is a theologian, historian and bishop among many other things. His is a mind I admire (and on my weaker days– envy), and I often feel that it would take me years to fully understand some of his ruminations and critiques of theological thought.
The Crown and the Fire is a series of meditations on the Cross of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This post is about the first meditation, which offers us insight into the voices in our heads.
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. Matthew 27:39-44.
As Jesus went to the cross, there were many who embraced the opportunity to mock him. But these voices of doubt and derision were not unfamiliar to him. Wright connects the point succinctly– that the Temptation of Jesus involved his encounter with Satan, who mocked him similarly: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to be bread,” or “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down, and the angels will look after you.”
“If”– isn’t that the word we all struggle with?
Wright continues the point: “The voice of Satan is often hard to recognise precisely because it appears so frequently as the voice of common sense, of prudence, of reason. Though the medieval paintings which display Jesus being tempted portray him engaging in argument with a visible figure, usually with hoofs and horns and a tail, anyone who has experienced fierce temptation will know that the voices we hear seem to come from the very deepest depths of our own being.” (The Crown and the Fire, 4.)
Isn’t it true that among those angry, unforgiving voices in our heads, the voice of rationality is the most convincing? Often, the voices that puff us up or make us proud– you’re so talented, you’re so beautiful— only last for so long. But the ones that seem to make so much sense– why would they notice you, this is hardly fair, you can’t possibly believe you’re worth it— are the ones that stick.
Next time the voice of “reason” makes you feel worse than scum, consider it a temptation to believe a lie. Rebuke it, and go on your way, doing that thing you love, being your glorious self because there is grace sufficient for you. I know that I will be trying to.
All right. I have one more introduction. I will be joining a linkup called Wednesday Words (for this post is a day late– ahh!) with Martha Kate, Jenni, Anna, and some other wonderful bloggers. Wednesday Words is a way by which we will be sharing our thoughts on faith, as well as exchanging readers and blog inspiration.
For those in the group who need a bit of an introduction, I am so excited to meet you all. You can find a brief bio and the story of Simplicity Relished on the about and FAQ pages! Today I’ve shared about the encouragement I experienced reading N.T. Wright’s reflections on Matthew 27. Next Wednesday I’ll be sharing something else with the group!
If you are a woman of faith who would like to join this, I believe it’s not too late! Check out any of the bloggers I listed above for further instructions.