A while ago I decided no more small teddy bears. In fact, I’m sure I even wrote about it but I’m too lazy to actually look. Some of you may read that first sentence and wonder why I have such a strong preference toward small stuffed animals. Let me explain.
I’m not sure when I first saw that picture, but man did it change my life. It kind of became my go to for advice when I thought anyone was clinging to something they should leave behind. Yes it’s fine I know I’m the worst, but at least I knew in my self-righteousness I also needed to give up my bears.
The problem is I couldn’t.
I ignored them, sure. I put them in a pile of other things and said it didn’t matter to me anyway. Or worse, I thought God and I were holding onto the same, right-for-me bear so it was cool. It was God’s timing.
Soon enough I found myself back in the same place of self-doubt I know so well, sobbing into my little teddy bear and feeling like a fool. I saw my teddy bear for what it was, and saw all the denial I’d lived in for too long.
It came to me in a park. I had just read through the book of Titus and I was thinking about the verse in chapter 2: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (11-12).
My first reaction was how I have this option to say no, and yet I find myself saying yes all the time. I am not self-controlled in any area of life. If I want it, I buy it because what’s a few more dollars on my credit card. Oh that boy didn’t treat me well? Better play his games again. I already ate three donuts, but that fourth one looks so good.
You get the idea.
That is where my journaling began to take a turn and I realized I couldn’t hold onto my teddy bear anymore. I thought by admitting other areas of struggle, I would be off the hook and I could cuddle with my pain. Fortunately, Jesus is a rescuer.
The comparisons plaguing my brain began to disappear and slowly I felt the teddy bear leave me. My Savior was there again, even though I stubbornly clung to what I thought was best because it was what I wanted. He gently reminded me where my worth comes from and how no one in this world determines my value. I wanted to spiral into the land where no one wants me, but Jesus reminded me there is no such place. He is always there, always comforting me, always reminding me that I am more than the way others make me feel.
And then it was gone. I released my bear. I gave to God the tiny fantasy I desperately wanted because it was the only thing I knew and decided to trust Him with my great reality waiting just beyond this season.
Now I’m free to dream again, beyond the limitations I willingly kept. I don’t have to stay focused on what I thought I wanted. I’m not trapped with something that will never give me what I need. In a phrase, I am free.
While this obviously applies to a specific thing in my life, it could apply to almost every area of my life. I hold onto what I know, good and bad, because the not-knowing seems worse. When I’m feeling low, I know that I can give it to God and feel light again, but I won’t. Instead I watch Netflix all day and dream that my life is like the shows I watch and slowly I slip from this beautiful reality I’m blessed to live everyday.
Earlier this week I said I wanted to make a change in my life, maybe a haircut or maybe burn down everything I own. Naturally I didn’t mean actually burning my possessions because that’s fiscally irresponsible, but a fire did occur.
I knew a change was in order, and it wasn’t one people will see. My room looks relatively the same and I still have all my hair. But I am lighter, freer, happier.
I burnt every last small teddy bear.