So. It turns out that identifying a problem is not even half the battle. Identifying a problem is actually more akin to using the word “problem”. Take for example “I have a problem with beanie babies.” The whole point of this statement is the beanie baby, the addiction itself, but we/I get stuck at the word problem and think we’re/I’m good. As if just saying it is enough.
Now, don’t get me wrong, admitting a problem is the first step, and it’s a big step. But for me, myself and I, I think I quite like to set up camp at “I have a problem,” let myself hang out there for a while, and feel somewhat proud of myself for identifying this. Let myself really sink my teeth into the fact that I have a problem, instead of sinking my teeth into the problem.
And I don’t just identify it once. That first time I identify a problem is an adrenaline rush, so of course I want to do it again. And once I identify it a second time, I’m well on my way to sage, mage and all round problems guru.
“Oh yes, I know I have a problem with social media, but I recognize it for what it is. #problemsguru #identified #selfimpressed.”
So by the time this problem has reared it’s ugly head a couple more times, I have deluded myself into thinking I have a handle on it, when the opposite is quite true. See I’ve identified this before, and the first time I did it lost some of it’s power over me. I’ve said it out loud and it lost a little more of it’s power. But then I said the same thing again.
“I have a problem with Beanie Babies.” Power down.
“I have a problem with Princess Diana Beanie Babies.” Power down
“I have a problem with Princess Diana Beanie Babies.” Power stasis.
“I have a problem with Princess Diana Beanie Babies.” Power up
There are a lot of things that get easier with repetition. I’m a huge fan of “if you say something long enough you’ll believe it.” But some things you have to repeat with more than just words on a loop. Some things you need to tackle head on every day, not just admitting you have a problem, but praying through, praying over, talking through with people who can actually help and not just people you are comfortable with. Sometimes the very people you can talk to, are the people you have the biggest problem with, and so repeating the same thing to them is not going to help anymore.
The thing is. The Princess Diana Beanie Baby isn’t the problem, and the more I say it is, the more I believe it is. As if the Beanie Baby is something outside of my control, external to me, and not something I’ve swallowed whole. No matter how many times I grab hold of that Princess Diana Beanie Baby, the common thread is not the beanie baby, it’s me.
I’m the problem. Not the addiction. The addiction has no life without me.
I’m the problem. Not the Beanie Baby. The Beanie Baby is off doing it’s own thing.
Wow, seeing that in Black and White on the screen, well, off gray and white, is a little daunting.
See I can hide behind the words and I can hide from the Beanie Babies. I can stay off Ebay, and I can stay away from collectors fairs. I can even push the trading manual to the back of my closet, and take my name of the Beanie Baby fan club volunteer list. But the problem is still there, because the problem is me.
Christine Caine is hitting me with some hard truths in her new book Unashamed. Now my Beanie Baby is not shame, but really, wherever she talks about shame just insert your own Beanie Baby and you will be shocked by what you hear:
So often in our spiritual lives, we experience the same thing. We get saved and start a good run – out of Egypt and right through the wilderness, building our heart, soul and mind muscles as we go. We build up our stamina, character, and fruit of the spirit output. We start to advance, grow, and mature in our spiritual journey. Things really seem to be flourishing in many areas of out lives.
Then we hit a wall.
That internal roadblock moment where everything seems like it should still keep moving forward, but it won’t… because we are holding back something somewhere.
Because we are holding back. Because we are keeping something from God. Because he can have the idea of Beanie Babies, I won’t buy anymore, I won’t go to the member site, I won’t pay the subscription, but I’ll just keep the ones I already own. Look, I’ll even put them in a box in the basement. He won’t even know they are there.
So is it all doom and gloom? Am I to be a slave to the Princess Diana Beanie Baby for the rest of my natural life? No. Because the son has set me free and I am free indeed (John 8:36). No. Because I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). But it takes more than saying you have a problem, it takes renewing your mind so that when your spirit falls back on the problem, your mind can kick into gear and get you out. So that when you see it, and identify it, you can walk away from it without it touching you. How do we do that?
The apostle Paul said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8).
That thing that I’ve identified needs to be replaced with whatever is true. That thing that keeps popping up when I see that Ty symbol, needs to be replaced with something noble. That thing that tugs at my heart when I hear the unwrapping of a McDonalds Toy, that needs to be replaced with whatever is right.
And just saying “I know I have a Beanie Baby Problem” will not cut it. You have to grab the Beanie Baby by the throat and cut the sucker’s head off.