The Mire: 3 Syndromes That Sink
Deliver me from sinking in the mire;Let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep pit swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.
mire - deep mud; earth so wet and soft as to yield to the feet and to wheels
Mire is figurative language for anything that is overwhelming you in life. Internal problems such as anger, shame, fear, or guilt; and things external such as gossip, reacting to said gossip, consuming worry over other people's opinions of you, doing work that you hate, being around vain or basal conversations. Mire can even be failure and lack of success or fleeting success, fame and fortune.
Today, I'd like to talk about 3 types of mire that we all need to escape from:
- The Need-to-Please Syndrome
- The Need-to-Defend Syndrome
- The Need-to-Showcase Syndrome
All 3 of these types of mire are deep mud. They might look similar to solid ground, but as soon as you dip a toe in there, you start sinking, but not too quickly, so then you think you can harmlessly cross it if you run. But the more weight you put in the mire, the more you sink. Notice, the definition above indicates that mire is so soft, it yields to feet and to wheels. In other words, there is no crossing a path of mire. There's no "get in, get out" strategy. You will sink. You will not make progress. You will drown if you stay in it too long. When you picture these Syndromes, picture quicksand. They are mental quicksand.
I've been dealing with these 3 syndromes over the last year or so, which gives me plenty to discuss with you today. The Scripture I want to draw on as a base for this conversation is found in two of the gospels, but let's look at Matthew 6:
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
Plainly, you can either serve the Lord your God or you can serve these syndromes. Serving the Need-to-Please Syndrome is really serving other people as your Lord. And trust me, they ain't gonna take care of you like God will! Serving the Need-to-Defend Syndrome is really serving your own ego. It means you can't ever allow yourself to be wrong or even portrayed as being wrong, God forbid! Serving the Need-to-Showcase Syndrome is really serving your own reputation. Whereas ego is defending yourself against negative public perception, showcasing is what you do to amplify positive public perception. Is God being glorified in your showcasing, or are you?
Let's begin the hard but holy work of unearthing this sinking mire...
The Need-to-Please Syndrome
On the outside, it may look like "sweetness", as in "Aw, Priska is so sweet. Anything I ask of her, she just does." Well, if I'm Priska (oh wait -- I am!), it sounds like I'm not actually accomplishing what I want to do or what is intended for me, because I'm accomplishing someone else's plan.
- This is how you wind up in a job or career you hate. It starts by not telling your parents no when they tell you what you are going to be when you grow up, i.e. what major to study in college. And then your boss says "I have an opportunity for you", which decoded may mean: "Someone just quit, and this is way left-field from your path, but I gotta C.Y.A., so it's on your plate now." And then you end up doing menial work which leaves your boss happy and you miserable. .
- It's also how I've seen friends wind up divorced. "She" was casually dating some dude while she waited for her real Prince Charming to show up. He never did (on her timetable). So ole dude proposed, and instead of saying no, she said "fine". And then upon having children with ole dude she realizes he's a terrible life partner who plays video games and bar-hops instead of helping with the children. And she winds up divorced and having to hunt down ole dude for child support.
That was heavy. **Deep breath.** Okay, let's move forward.
Ask yourself: How often do you say "no"? Can you even say no? Or do you say, "Oh...well...maybe...I'll think about it", which turns into overwhelming pressure to say yes, and you cave. Ask yourself this: Do you base your performance at work, within relationships, and in community organizations off of someone's evaluative opinion?
News flash: People's evaluations of you are a larger reflection of their self-evaluation and mood than of your performance at a given task. Don't just take it from me. This is an excerpt from the Harvard Business Review. It's an article by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall:
The most comprehensive research on what ratings actually measure was conducted by Michael Mount, Steven Scullen, and Maynard Goff and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2000. Their study—in which 4,492 managers were rated on certain performance dimensions by two bosses, two peers, and two subordinates—revealed that 62% of the variance in the ratings could be accounted for by individual raters’ peculiarities of perception. Actual performance accounted for only 21% of the variance.
And that's not to mention the negative side comments or unwarranted praises by someone based on their sugar intake for the day, hormones, positive/negative life situations, misperceptions of you, etc. I know that's hard to ingest. We. Like. Praise. Who doesn't?? It feels really good to be lauded for my great sacrifices or my willingness to do whatever is asked of me. It doesn't feel good to be in a conversation with someone looking for a Yes Man who is disappointed in my need to kindly say no.
If this is you, I recommend you read the book "The Best Yes" by Lisa Terkeurst. I read it over a year ago and not a day goes by when I don't have to recall and apply the principles she teaches. Mainly, when someone asks something of you, is it your Best Yes to give your time, talent, and focus to that task? Or are they simply offloading a duty on their checklist? You can make the decisions that create your dream life, but its going to take some no's...actually, a ton of no's.
You can click the Amazon link below* to buy this book (PTL for 2-day shipping!). It's an affiliate link, which means I get a commission, but you don't pay any more. This isn't a little blue gummy bear vitamin -- this will change your life!
The Need-to-Defend Syndrome
Are you that person who happens to start arguments all the time? Not that you're trying, you just catch yourself in that position over the most trivial matters. But someone says they like tortilla chips with their guacamole and suddenly it turns into a fact-fest about cultural appropriation because you are dying to either (1) prove you're woke, or (2) fix the world.
(I'm not the first, but one of the first to point out our societal issues with prejudice, but let a person eat a chip in piece...please.)
If you're constantly jumping into an argument to help get other people as woke as you, are you ever really listening to other people or living in the moment? Are you personally happy that way?
The times when I'm the most argumentative are times when other parts of my life have issues, and yet the arguments come out with friends and acquaintances who aren't involved with those issues. And you know what? They know. It's super easy to recognize when someone is just being blatantly argumentative to feel a sense of winning and control over their lives. We forgive you, but we also want better for you.
Now that I'm on this track, I forgive me and I want better for me. I forgive myself for being a jackal in times when I needed to feel the small win of an argument. I want better for me -- good dialogue between people with open hearts and ears. As an anonymous person was reported to have said:
God gave you two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately.
The Need-to-Showcase Syndrome
So we've covered the Need-to-Defend Syndrome, which is about (compulsively) needing to defend your ego and reputation from negative perception. The Need-to-Showcase Syndrome is the other side of that same coin. It's needing to present a strong offense of good works and even personal growth steps in order to pump yourself up and to pump up your reputation amongst other people.
This one is really tricky, and your intentions must be deciphered by the Holy Spirit moving in your heart. The first step is to ask, as King David did in Psalm 139:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
I realize the devil is going to jump on your shoulder, as he has done mine in writing this, and say ugly things like, "Isn't she showcasing by blogging?", but I hope you see that (1) I'm called to this work of sharing the message online, and (2) I present enough of my most humiliating moments whereas this is clearly more humbling than pride-inducing. I guess that's my thorn!
So what does showcasing look like in your actual life??
Sometimes/Oftentimes, I think God asks us to lay down our phones (specifically cameras and social media) and do service-oriented, selfless-love kind of work because it will change us to our core, but only if we aren't looking at the project through a iPhone camera lens. Are we listening for those times?
On other other hand, and like I said, this Syndrome is tricky. I'm going on a mission trip soon that will require me to raise more money than I've ever raised before. I prayed to God asking, "Do I ask a lot of people for financial support, or do I just ask the handful of people I know are wealthy enough to cover all my costs?" God told me to ask a wider number of people, because by financially supporting, they will be more inclined to pray for me and the people we will help, and because they will become aware of issues we don't know/talk about here in 21st c. America. Issues afflicting millions of young girls that are easy to turn a blind eye to, save through exposure from missionaries like me. My personal reasoning for taking this trip is to broaden my own perspective about global ailments and solutions, and to help broaden others' perspectives in requesting donations, educating them on global issues, and returning with stories I couldn't possibly have known before.
My goal isn't to make myself look oh so holy, but it is something I will continue to humble myself before the Lord to ensure my ego stays in check. **I take that back. I would be a fool if I truly thought my ego would ever "stay in check". My goal is to swiftly return to humility during the times my pompous ego rears its ugly head.**
I truly believe in supernatural freedom by the power of Jesus working within us. I believe it's possible to live in a world full of mire, and with mire being the normal pool for the masses, and to still live without the heaviness of sinking into it. I believe we can break free from these syndromes, but not without asking for the Lord to search our hearts. Not without leaning on his divine power. Not without a proper dose of humility to let God show us the errors in our own ways.
Which of these syndromes do you need to pray, read truth about and break free from:
- The Need-to-Please Syndrome
- The Need-to-Defend Syndrome
- The Need-to-Showcase Syndrome
Do it! With all zeal I urge you. Run unhindered. Dodge the mire landmines. Repent when you fall, and keep going!
P.S. To read more about my mindset changes with the Need-to-Please Syndrome, click here.
*Disclosure: Priska Jordan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.