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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Bloom and Gloom”

Like Apple Bloom in this episode, lots of people worry about what happens as they get older. When we’re young, we pretty much just dread the loss of freedom that comes with a job. Later on we start worrying about what it will mean to get married and, if we go through with that, what about a family. As we reach middle age we start wondering about what’s going to come after our careers and what our impact on the world was or our legacy. Most of all, we start thinking more and more as we get older about the inevitable, which is why it’s not until one grows older often that they start thinking about where they will spend eternity.

And of course, like Apple Bloom, a lot of people wonder about themselves personally. They think a lot about the problems that afflict them specifically, and, of course, that’s perfectly natural. They think not only of the choices they made but the type of person they are now and, perhaps, mistakes that haunt them or relationships that they have broken. Sometimes this is just reflection, but if there’s something negative in the past (and most people have at least one thing) we can dwell on that. We can wonder about what we “should have done”, or think about the kind of person we are. We can start thinking of ourselves as “mess-ups” in certain areas or untalented or failures in others.

Finally, like Apple Bloom, it’s very easy not only for Christians but for people in general to make the biggest mistake in this line of thinking: assume we are the only ones in the world with that sort of problem.

To a degree, there’s some truth in that statement. It’s true that no one is exactly like you or has the exact same problems you do, because everyone is unique. Yet it can lead to a generalization in the other direction. The idea that out of all the people in the world, you are the one who would fail if you try this one thing. You are the one exception when it comes to doing something that everyone else can do but you can’t. Everyone else, whether in a class, at home, or at church, is better or more talented in that area. In regards to the latter, they’re “holier”, praise more loudly, serve more joyfully, reach out to others more easily…while you? You’re just the one individual who can’t click with it.

I get this especially bad. There are many times I’m in rooms full of people and I think every last one of them is “better” than I am. That’s a bad tendency to begin with because, for starters, we should never, ever compare ourselves to one another. If we’re going to single ourselves out from everyone, we should do it in the sense that no one has had the exact same set of life experiences we had and so we can’t judge our own relative worth, or that of anyone else.

But in the broader sense…perhaps it’s a good idea to envision what Princess Luna did for Apple Bloom as what God would like us to see. When she tried to say she was the only one who had those fears and doubts, the alicorn immediately presented her with a seemingly infinite set of doors; each one leading to another individual who had the exact same fears and doubts about themselves.

There have been a few moments in my life where, to the tune of a great deal of stomach turning, personal arm twisting, and no small amount of fear and shame I have admitted sins, thoughts, or misdeeds. Things that I thought would immediately brand me in the eyes of others as some wretched, twisted little half-man. Yet I’ve noticed that when I’ve done so in front of a true healthy Christian community, one that’s truly based on the Gospel and not on rules or control, I was surprised to see people look back at me calmly and admit they did the same thing. In fact, I soon find that in the best church communities, everyone in a small group thinks they’re the worst sinner in the bunch.

To me, this is why the Bible encourages small communities and openness and honesty. People fear being honest about how bad they feel or confessing the things that make them feel “worth-less” compared to other people will simply confirm their worst fears and lead to condemnation by everyone. Yet I find someone that is seriously introspective and serious about turning their life around ironically becomes their own worst critic. It seems if we refuse to let our own sin or bad behavior “slide” and to call ourselves accountable for it, then we’ll go to the opposite extreme and condemn ourselves to the point of self-defeat. Yet when you’re honest before others who are trustworthy and genuine, you quickly discover that you’re not as alone in your journey through life as you think and, much as Apple Bloom in this episode, you’re running from your own nightmare…and nightmares aren’t real.

Always remember…people didn’t come to Christ or a Christian community because they woke up one day feeling like the holiest person in the world and decided to bless the Church with their own magnificence. They came likely because they were feeling at their lowest and most sinful and recognized their need for a Savior…just like the rest of us. This isn’t a flock of perfectly clean sheep and one filthy one in the bunch. It’s nothing but filthy sheep going to the same shepherd to be made clean. As Jesus said in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Suggested Prayer: “Dear Lord, thank you that you have loved me with an everlasting love since before I was formed in the womb, and that your plans for me and love for me will never be hindered by any fault, error, or mistake on my part. As you have so accepted me in spite of my failings, help me not only to accept others in the same way…but also to not be so arrogant as to declare I know better than you and fail to accept myself. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”