Fox’s television drama Lie to Me premiered in January 2009. Its premise intriguing. Its ratings—after only four short months on the air—enough to top President Obama’s April news conference. But is it worth watching?
I don’t know. I haven’t ingested a single episode.
My lack of consumption though doesn’t alter the naked truth: I resonate with the show’s title. Sadly, it utters volumes of my spiritual state in recent weeks.
Just the other night, I confessed to my husband Ted, “I feel mediocre.”
“Why?” he probed, intuition at work. “Who are you comparing yourself to?”
I bristled. I didn’t want to admit it, but he was spot on. My version of the comparison game was in full swing.
Julie was a better mom. She frequented the park more often with her kids, enrolled them in expensive classes my daughters longed to join, and still had energy to seek out meaningful friendships with other women.
While Amy’s house wasn’t spotless, it was cleaner than mine. Her sink sat free of the overflow of dirty dishes that plagued mine daily.
The results of every recipe Sara attempted were delicious. She had beautiful pictures and online accolades from her husband to prove it.
And then, there was the big one; the one that tormented me the most. Jennifer and Alicia were more successful professionally than I was.
Within three weeks, I’d learned both friends had achieved significant feats in their areas of expertise. One I anticipated, the other I didn’t. The news of it came as a shock.
Failure, not mediocrity, would seem a more appropriate word to describe how I felt after the mental game I was playing. But it wasn’t, because here’s where it gets even uglier. I also compared myself to others I perceived weren’t doing as well as me, hoping it would boast my esteem.
I didn’t yell at my kids the way the woman at Costco did the other day.
My house might be messy, but it wasn’t covered in cat hair like Mary’s.
At least I attempted to cook, unlike Rachel who let her husband and Stouffers handle the meals.
I was doing better professionally than Andrea. Or, at least, I liked to think so.
In the end, mediocre best described me. Worst than some, better than others. But it wasn’t a happy medium. I wanted to excel—to be the best—at something. And I didn’t feel that way standing in the shadow of my friends and acquaintances. Instead, my life seemed lacking.
“Remember, God is a good God,” Ted firmly stated as our conversation continued.
I know God is good, I inwardly fumed. What does that have to do with this?
Turns out, it had everything to do with it.
I later realized that Ted pinpointed the root of my problem: I failed to see God’s goodness to me personally. Instead, I chose to believe lies.
Back to the Garden
I’m confident that if an in-depth series of books were written on the history of sin—and perhaps there is such a collection—lies about God’s goodness would be in volume 1, chapter 1, right after pride. Genesis 3 reveals that God’s goodness came into question early on when Satan, disguised as a serpent, peddled fabrications to Eve.
Sometimes I try to imagine that fatal day.
The sky, a brilliant blue, hung as the perfect backdrop for the gentle flow of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers as they added to the already calm of the Garden’s peacefulness. Every color and species of flower imaginable was in bloom; their favorite drink the early morning dew, Eden’s God-given sprinkler system.
Trees galore—some providing beauty, others shade, and still more, sustenance—adorned the Garden. While I don’t know what varieties decorated its grounds, I picture the tall, unbending stature of palm trees standing side by side with strong, majestic oaks and gentle weeping willows. The inviting arms of apricot trees and apple trees were extended, living in near proximity to their mysterious cousin, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It’s in the middle of this paradise, where everything testified to Creation’s first woman of God’s goodness to her, that Satan sought to taint the truth.
He introduced doubt.
“You will not surely die,” he whispered to her. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
His words painted a perverted picture of a loving Father, each stroke disguising His generosity as that of a withholding hand.
And Eve believed the serpent. Hook, line, and sinker.
Back to the Truth
I’m not that different from Eve. Entertaining lies gets me in trouble too.
“God doesn’t love you as much as He loves Jennifer,” doubt whispers. “If He did, you’d have the same opportunities she does.”
“Look at how well-loved Julie is by her friends. If God liked you as much as He likes her, He’d make sure you were as popular,” it taunts.
Its voice is persuasive, seeking to sway me. I find myself struggling, doubting that God intends good for me.
But what if I stopped listening? If I stopped comparing? If instead, I choose to believe, as Sarah Zacharias Davis talks about in her book The Friends We Keep, that God doesn’t have favorites. He doesn’t love Julie or Amy or Sara or Jennifer or Alicia any more or less than He loves me. That, as scripture tells me, “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6).
I’d venture to guess I’d be more content. I wouldn’t feel mediocre.
Not only that, but I’d be quicker to genuinely “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
And so I’ve determined to do just that—to get away from the comparison game I often play. To move away from the lies that distort the reality of God’s goodness and back to the truth.
The truth is, that while my struggle may still surface, I no longer resonate with the title of Fox’s drama Lie to Me. Unlike Eve that fateful day in the Garden, I’m now able to clearly see that the hand of my Father is good to me. Not simply some of the time, but all of the time.