There is something to be said for familiarity. Sure, there are times when familiarity holds us back. It tends to bring comfort, which usually doesn’t help us to grow in God. But the familiarity I’m talking about has nothing to do with finding comfort in our situations or with our relationship with God. I’m talking about being familiar with God.
Many of us, if not all of us, have at least one celebrity that we just absolutely love. It could be an athlete, an actor, or a band member. If we’re being honest, we’d probably recognize this person out in public faster than we would recognize our own family members. We know all their songs. We see every movie they’re in. We watch every game. We watch interviews, read articles, look up ticket prices, and buy merch. We know their voices, their personalities, and their likes and dislikes. In short, we’re familiar with them.
We’re also familiar with our loved ones. It’s almost scary how well I know my best friend. I’ve only known her for four years, but it feels like we’ve been besties our entire lives. I know her existing opinions on things, but I can also tell how she would respond to new things. I can tell you whether or not she would find a certain joke funny, whether she would like a particular dress, if she would like a song or not. And she’s the exact same way with me. We’re know each other’s views on life and what makes each other happy. We’re familiar with each other.
That’s the way we should be with God.
The thing is, God speaks to everyone differently. It goes back to us having a personal relationship with Him. But the only way to develop that relationship with God and recognize how He speaks to you is to get to know Him. You have to spend time talking to Him, listening to Him, responding to Him, and seeing how He responds to you.
The reason this is so important is because the Chatterbox is actually pretty good at sounding like God sometimes.
While God loves you to death and back, He knows you’re not perfect, and He wants to work on those imperfections with you. Obviously you can’t change something if you don’t acknowledge that change is necessary, so the Holy Spirit convicts you and points to the areas you could stand to improve. He does this in order to better us.
The Chatterbox, however, has very different motives for pointing out our wrongs. It doesn’t do it to improve us, but to bring to light our flaws. This causes us to further develop a negative view of ourselves. And once that negative view exists, it becomes easier for us to listen to the Chatterbox because we already believe, on some level, what it’s telling us. God’s voice becomes more distant and unrecognizable while the Chatterbox grows louder and clearer.
In addition to pointing out what’s wrong with us, the Chatterbox also excels at reminding us of those things that we try so hard to forget.
Have you ever woke up with the previous day’s mistakes on your mind? That slip up at work. That thing you shouldn’t have said to your friend. Wishing you had done everything completely different. It’s a new day and God’s new mercies are ready to greet us, but the Chatterbox won’t shut up long enough for us to realize it.
Then there are those things that we’ve been trying to forget for years. You know, those scars that we wish would grow fainter as the years go by. That girl you hurt back in high school. That embarrassingly stupid thing you said in class in college. The times that you completely disregarded God. They’re things that we wish we could erase from our history, pieces of our lives that we hope never make any kind of highlight reel. We want to forget them, and God also wants us to forget them. Dwelling on our less-than-glorious past will only hinder us from reaching what God has planned for us. The Chatterbox’s mission is to keep us focused on that past. The more our eyes linger there, the less time we have to invest in our promising, Chatterbox-less future.
Unlike the Chatterbox, the Holy Spirit reminds us of something other than the bad. He reminds us of what God’s done to right our wrongs and help us move on from our past mistakes, no matter how big they are. He provides us with hope, and that’s something the Chatterbox will never do. That is how we can ultimately tell the Chatterbox and the Holy Spirit apart.
I know I’ve said something like this before, but it won’t hurt to repeat it: It’s ridiculous how easily we forget everything God’s done for us. We can remember some of the most pointless stuff, but we can’t remember what our Lord and Savior did for us. (If you were at church Sunday, you’ll recall my Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap during the sermon as a prime example of this.)
The good news is that God is patient while we come to remembrance and realization. It doesn’t matter how often we forget or how much we forget. He has the most fantastic ways of reminding us that He always was, still is, and will forever be God. Maybe He reminds you in the smallest of ways. Maybe it takes a grand production of sorts to jog your memory. Perhaps it’s through spoken or written word, through a sight or an occurrence. However it happens, the point is that it does happen, every time.
I can’t tell you how many times God has to tell me that He’s got it under control. Honestly, you’d think I’d learn my lesson, but old habits are difficult to ditch, I suppose. God doesn’t get frustrated with me and contemplate giving up on me. No, He jogs my memory with this feeling of amazement. It could be a brand new kind of problem, but when God handles it for me, I get this familiar sense of peace and relief, and it’s like He’s saying to me in the comforting voice that only a loving father has, “Carrie, I’ve got this. I’ve always got this.”
It’s familiar because I’ve experienced a lot of struggles like that with God. I try my hardest to handle my own messy situations before I give them over to Him. For whatever reason, I’m always left in a familiar, yet newfound shock at how great God truly is. I’ve developed a relationship with God where He can tell me, “Carrie, what you’re doing is kind of stupid. Look at what you’re doing to this. Why don’t you let me take this from you?” And I say, “Okay, God. Let’s give your way a shot.”
He’s not mad at us when we need reminding of how perfect He is. He’s not fed up with us when we finally remember who He is. God knows how powerful the signal and noise of the Chatterbox is. He doesn’t fault us for listening to it. He just turns His mic up and speaks louder. He understands that it might take a minute for us to decipher the sounds. He knows how hard it is to tune out the Chatterbox. He doesn’t care how long it takes for us to hear Him as long as we do eventually hear Him.
By Carrie Prevette