“Which One Wins”
Series: How to Talk to Yourself
Direct Your Thoughts
As the old story goes, a grandfather tells his grandson, “Two wolves live inside each of us, one that wants to bless us and one that wants to destroy us. They fight for control of our lives.”
“Which one wins?” asks the grandson.
“The one you feed.”
Our Divided Selves
Sometimes inner conflict comes from our divided selves, like when Paul says “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). No one has taken over his body. He still has control. But he has so many forces pulling him in different directions that he ends up doing something he — the self underneath all those voices — doesn’t want to do. Ever feel that way?
Our heads fill up with a cacophony of voices, but none of those voices define us. We get to choose which voice we obey. And we decide which voice is loudest. The one we feed will win.
Telling Yourself Truth
Jesus tells a famous story about a son who has wandered far away from home and estranged himself from his father. Most of us can relate to the prodigal son, as he sat in a pigsty and pined for better days. We all get lost and need to come home, and Jesus teaches that coming home is a two-step process: Before the son “came to his Father” (Luke 15:20) he “came to himself” (Luke 15:17).
Why does he need to come to himself? Because he has left himself, or we might say, “he’s not acting like himself.”
“‘But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!’’” (Luke 15:17).
He reasons with himself, considering his options. What a valuable strategy!
Then he tells himself what he needs to do.
““I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants’”” (Luke 15:18-19).
Swallowing your pride, owning your failures, and begging for mercy? Most people would rationalize an easier — though less promising — course of action to avoid doing the hard, right thing. But he got up and went.
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).
The prodigal could have told himself he was in the right or had a pity party at his “bad luck.” But then he never would have made it home. We can all invent stories about our lives to make us feel better, but maybe we should stop listening to our own stories and start telling ourselves the truth. So what is the hard, right thing you need to do?