Get Off My Back

If I wanted to, I could write my name in the dust on my fireplace mantle. In fact, by utilizing all the dusty surfaces in my living room, I could probably write the entire Gettysburg Address, if I could remember what comes after “Four score and seven years ago.”

Admittedly, my house is dusty. But it doesn’t stop there. My car needs to be vacuumed. My rose beds need to be weeded. My office clutter needs to be organized, and I haven’t swept my patio in weeks.

I am never caught up. Like a racecar driver who is twelve laps down, I keep going in circles, with no hope of winning.

Sometimes my unaccomplished to-do list overwhelms me. It starts to represent who I am: a failure. Worse, it robs me of the joy and peace I should feel as an abundantly blessed child of God.

When I decried my situation to a close friend, she told me I need to “get off my own back.” Despite the fact that this statement presents a ridiculous oxymoron, it was advice that warranted consideration.

Admittedly, I do berate myself for my shortcomings and perceived failures. Doesn’t everyone? Am I wrong to want to do better and accomplish more?

No, I am not wrong in seeking to improve. But continual self-scolding never leads to improvement. It leads to misery, disappointment, and despair. What kind of witness for Christ is a miserable, disappointed, and despairing disciple?

The Scriptures admonish me to be kindhearted, generous, longsuffering, and patient. I try to be all those things in my relationships with other people. But possibly God wants me to extend those same loving courtesies to myself. After all, how can I obey His command to “love my neighbor as myself” when I am self-condemning?

Life experiences have taught me that criticizing other people is not an effective way to bring about good changes in them. Yet, I continue to aim criticism at myself, hoping it will motivate me to do better.

“Getting off my own back” requires me to look at my life from a different viewpoint. It prompts me to consider the possibility that my dusty shelves and neglected rose beds are not necessarily proof that I am lazy or inefficient. Maybe they simply indicate that I am choosing to devote my time to other matters.

If I spend several hours writing a Christ-centered article or a whole day nurturing my grandchildren, I inevitably leave other tasks undone. But possibly it is when I am writing or nurturing that God does His best work in me. He uses me to produce more substantial results than a dust-free house or a weed-free garden.

Today, instead of being on my own back, I will try being on my own side (another oxymoron, I admit). I will cheer for me, celebrate my victories, and forgive my failures. Today, I will choose to treat myself not as an enemy but as a friend. Today, I will love myself as I love my neighbor.

10 thoughts on “Get Off My Back”

  1. Good advice, Debbie. Now that I stop to think about it, I think I have been on my own back at times and I never thought about that! Ummmmm…something I need to stop and ponder for sure!

    1. Dear Friend, please get off your own back. You are one of my dear friends, and your successes are legion. You are a blessing to me and to thousands of others.

      Sent from my iPhone


  2. Good words, Debbie. Now, live by them. You are such good encourager and friend to so many people. I hope you can truly see yourself for being the good, loving and responsible person that others see in you. I love you, dear friend.

  3. Yea! Good for you! You are my hero. I could never accomplish what you get done! It’s about time you give yourself a break. Love you!

    1. Thank you, Sister. But you must have written this before you had your morning coffee. You couldn’t have been wide awake when you said, “I could never accomplish what you get done!”

      You work circles around me and we both know it. I am the prettiest though.

  4. Strange, I thought I left a comment the day you posted…but I don’t see it here. Perhaps you didn’t receive it! 😦 Just wanted to thank you so much for this encouraging reminder and humorous visual! I’ve begun to learn this. I have a feeling I’ll be learning this the rest of my life! Lots of acrobatics going on here… 🙂

    1. Pearl,

      I cannot figure out why comments don’t always show up on my post. I’m working on the problem.

      We Christian women need to remind ourselves daily that it is Satan who is the great accuser. He tries to beat us down so we won’t be effective in our Christian walks. I’m happy to be walking with you. Your blog posts are blessings to me!

  5. Yay! Love this article! Very thought provoking. You’re right about criticism rarely getting good results! Bravo on the article AND the reminder.

    1. Amen, Sister. If criticism doesn’t bring about good results in the people around us, why do we think it will work on us?

      I’m on my side today, and on yours too!

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