Mike Foster: God Wants You to Stop Beating Yourself Up

Mixtapes were the 1980s version of a playlist, but instead of living in iTunes, they lived on good old-fashioned plastic cassettes. When a cassette broke, you didn’t take it to the Apple Genius bar. You took a No. 2 pencil, stuck it in one of the sprockets and spun it around. Boom, you were back in business.

If you’ve seen the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, then you’ve seen a mixtape in action and know how precious they can be. Star-Lord is willing to risk his life to get back his sweet collection of tunes custom-made for him by his mom. Mixtapes were like that. They were personal. They were cherished.

Talking about mixtapes makes me feel really old. I might as well be wearing pleated Dockers and a fanny pack. (No offense to those who still wear pleated Dockers and a fanny pack.) But I am a child of the 1980s. 

But we have a different kind of mixtape these days. It doesn’t play the awesome melodies of REO Speedwagon or Journey. I’m not even talking about iPods, Sirius or Spotify. No, these mixtapes are invisible, and they play in our heads and hearts. They play up our fears and insecurities. They play a soundtrack of our failures.

They pump out the discouraging tunes of self-hatred with lyrics like:

I need to _________ better.

I should be further along than I am.

My life doesn’t matter.

Have you heard these songs before? They strip our stories of hope and life. They drown out possibility.

I’m not sure where these tapes come from, but I know a lot about them. Every verse. Every chorus. Every melody. Every bridge back into the chorus. It’s all pure evil echoing inside our brains like elevator music.

And have you noticed this about your mixtape?

The messages aren’t that creative. The lyrics aren’t catchy or original. They are like a horrible jingle that gets stuck in your head. They repeat the same thing over and over again. “You stink. You stink. You stink.” It’s like being stuck on the It’s a Small World ride at Disneyland, but the music you keep hearing sings, “You’re a loser after all.”

How unoriginal. What crappy content. How long do you think we should listen to it?

A couple of months ago I was sitting in my office, and my negative mixtape started to play. It had been a discouraging season. A few triggers here and there. Reasons to doubt myself. Throw in a few pinches of doubt and worry, and I found myself in a low place.

I felt inadequate and lonely.

You’re a loser after all.

Our organization was taking on water and sinking. Finances were scary. I took full responsibility.

You’re a loser after all.

I felt like an idiot, embarrassed by it all. The picture in my head wasn’t working out like it was supposed to.

You’re a loser after all.

So you know what I thought? I thought what every leader thinks when the mixtape is playing at full blast. I said to myself, I should just quit and get a job at Starbucks, because the baristas there look like they are having a lot more fun than I’m having right now. Good health insurance. Fun atmosphere. Make cappuccino all day. I would just disappear into the world of Howard Schultz and green aprons.

But then I realized I didn’t need a new life or a new job. I needed a new soundtrack. I needed to deal with the mixtape in my head.

I started seeing a Christian counselor, and I realized how messed up and ugly my mixtape was. My self-doubt sounded so normal to me, but it was totally whacked.

My counselor said: “Mike, you write about grace. You preach about grace. You desperately want grace for other people. Isn’t it about time you started smoking what you’re selling? Maybe it’s time for you to get a little grace for yourself.”

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Source: Relevant Magazine

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