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Mental Maps: a faith based story on love from the Story Powerline
2/10/2021 4:00:00 AM by: Becky Cerling Powers

Some years ago a campus minister I knew called me for help. He was driving from the next state to give a talk to Christian students near me, but he ran into car trouble. He got off the highway at a nearby town called Vado at Exit 155, and he needed me to pick him up there.

Well, I had a mental map in my head and I thought I knew where Vado was. But unfortunately my mental map was wrong. I drove 25 miles past Vado before I started reading the exit signs and realized my mistake. I had to go back the way I came, and the man was late for his talk.

Doing things right while getting it wrong

On this drive I did a lot of things right. I drove the speed limit. I followed safety rules. I even sang and praised God as I traveled. But the mental image I relied on was wrong, so I messed up.

We all have mental images in our heads about the way the world is and how to get where we want to go in life. If our mental images are wrong, we mess up.

I spent the first 40 years of my life working to do everything perfectly and get the approval of authority figures. I thought it was my responsibility to make life smooth for my family and everyone around me. Mentally I believed in God’s grace, but emotionally I thought I wasn’t worth anything unless I was producing good work and keeping the people around me happy.

Over and over I burnt out.

Finally I cried out to God about my overwhelmed, exhausting, burnt out life. And one day I sensed the Lord drop an idea into my thoughts: “Becky, I love you like you love the baby.”

That simple image cleared my confusion. And showed me grace.

Because, oh how I loved my babies!

I loved their soft little heads, their cuddly bodies, their sudden smiles, their eagerness to figure out how to get places and explore new things….

I didn’t love the baby because he scrubbed my kitchen floor and cleaned my cupboards. He didn’t help with any of my work. He made more work. He slept. He cried. He ate. He pooped. And I loved him, I delighted in him.

At last I understood.

The way I see the baby is the way God sees me. I don’t have to work to earn his love. He just loves me. He delights in me.

With those few words, God transformed my thinking. His word picture did two things. First, it exposed the lie that I was only worthwhile if I did things other people noticed and approved. And second, it revealed the truth about the way God sees me, and the worth He gives me. And since He alone is God, His opinion is the only one that matters.

What St. Paul said

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Today’s prayer

Oh Lord, I am frustrated. I keep running into walls, being defeated by the same problems over and over. Please correct my mental map. Expose the lies and reveal the truth that I need today. Amen.

©2019 by Becky Cerling Powers

Reprint with attribution only (www.beckypowers.com)

 You can find more family stories from Becky Cerling Powers in Laura’s Children: the hidden story of a Chinese orphanage and My Roots Go Back to Loving and other stories from “Year of the Family” in the Bookstore

 

 

 

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