We’ve all heard the term “perception is reality”, and that is because whatever you perceive to be true becomes your personal reality. However, what you perceive to be reality is not always true. This is the case with my toad story!
If I were to ask you what you think of when you think of a frog (or a toad), I am almost certain that the words “warm, fussy and kissable” would not be words that come to your mind. Personally, when I think of a frog I think of two things. First, I am reminded of children’s fairy tales in which a princess has to kiss the frog in order for the curse to be broken and the frog to become a prince again. Secondly, I think of the 10 plagues in the bible. Ha! So either the frog is under a curse or the Lord is releasing judgment. So why am I talking about frogs, curses and judgments? Well, I’m glad you asked!
The past couple of months I was battling self-condemnation. I was in a situation in which my response was not very “Christ-like” and I failed to operate in the “fruit of the Spirit”. That left me feeling like a complete failure because as a leader I felt I should be more mature by now, and that failure led me down the path of self-condemnation. I spent a great deal of time thinking that I am not fit for the work of the ministry because clearly I am a mess. I felt I have a filthy and selfish heart and deserved to be punished for my poor behavior.
Interestingly when I went down this path we had a sudden onset of pests at our home. We had an infestation of millipedes on the back patio, and infestation of toads in our back yard, a couple of cockroaches in the laundry room (which seemed odd since we live in a new and clean home), and I also found mouse and rat droppings around the exterior of our home and garage. With all of these happening at once I felt the Lord was unleashing the 10 plagues over our household! And worse, I not only thought I brought this upon our family but I deserved it! Yes, that sounds extreme but the 10 plagues, which were God’s judgment over Pharaoh’s household and land of Egypt, is exactly what came to mind. I felt that I was being punished for having a bad heart since a lot of “yucky stuff” came out of my heart when that situation took place. And by yucky stuff I mean things like self-defense, pride, fear, stubbornness, etc.
What happened next was very interesting. My son’s nanny and I had captured and relocated a total of 7 toads over the course of a week but they kept multiplying. It felt like these ugly little creatures were overtaking my yard! So I decided to search Google on how to effectively get rid of frogs and toads because I wanted them gone. I read a few different articles and all encouraged humanely capturing and safely relocating them. To my surprise they went as far as to say that I should consider letting a few remain because they eat the pests that can destroy and kill the yard. That stopped me on my tracks. I had been presented with information I did not have before which shifted my perspective. You mean these ugly little creatures are actually good to have around??? Yes.
A day or two later I was sitting in a staff meeting for the non-profit I work for, and the woman leading our devotional that morning mentioned frogs. She had my attention at that point, and the Lord began speaking to my heart. Not everything that was unleashed the evening that situation went down was bad. Not everything coming out of my heart that night was “yuck”. What I thought was yucky was actually for the good. He reminded me that not everything is as it seems (my perception was actually NOT reality), and that even what the enemy intends for evil He uses for good!
Finally, the moment of breakthrough came when I found a toad trapped in my garage. I was heading out to go to work and noticed a toad trying hard to free itself from the sticky pad it mistakenly landed on. These sticky pads were positioned strategically to capture any mice that wanted to make their way into our garage. I meant them for the mice not the toad. Had this happened a week earlier I would have probably left it there to die and then tossed the sticky pad in the trash, but since this happened after the Lord unveiled His truth, I did not want the toad to die. Suddenly I had compassion for this toad and wanted it to see it set free. So I did what I never thought I would do. I put on some cleaning gloves and gently removed the toad from its trap. I placed it on the front yard, prayed over it and blessed it. Yes, I blessed it to live long and prosper! Though I did not realize it at the time, what I actually did was have compassion on myself, prophesied life over myself, and released myself from the trap of self-condemnation. Truly we are our worst critics, but the Lord doesn’t see us the way we see ourselves. He is kind and loving and though He does call us higher He is not pointing His finger at us telling us what a mess we are. Actually, He loves taking messy things (or messy people) and making them beautiful! He is in the business of transformation!
So if you are dealing with self-condemnation remind yourself of this, even if your heart condemns you, God is bigger than your heart (1 John 3:20)! He is not mad or disgusted with you. He has removed your sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and chooses to remember your sins no more (Hebrews 8:12)! Lastly, be kind to yourself. If you have fallen down don’t beat yourself up. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1); condemnation is not from God. Stand up, dust your legs off and move forward. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)! Now that is good news. Be blessed!
PS As soon as I got this revelation, all of the pestilences were gone! Except for one or two toads left in the yard.