My husband and I watch Hotel Hell every chance we get. We love that show!
If you haven’t watched, the premise of the show is this: business owners contact Gordon Ramsay to come help their sinking business rise from the ashes. They are all truly looking for a resurrection. He comes, tears the place apart, then points out all the reasons why the business is failing. He leaves the owner a weeping pile of mess on the floor and makes the viewers think all is lost.
But the next day Gordon swoops in to save everything, revamping the restaurant menu, renovating the rooms in a modern Joanna Gaines’ style, and completely restoring the business back to life. The owners make permanent positive changes and everything ends happily ever after. It’s a great premise!
The ironic part is most of the time the owner can’t admit where their business is struggling. They typically view their efforts as satisfactory and can’t admit they have any room for improvement. When Gordon points it out, they completely deny. While Gordon is ripping the place apart with critiques on cleanliness, staff competency, quality of the food the restaurant offers, the owner usually scoffs in disapproval, going as far as to make excuses ranging from, “Well the guests have never complained about the food” to “I think it looks clean.”m, “Well the guests have never complained about the food” to “I think it looks clean.”
This one young man in particular contacted Gordon to “just help his business along.” He thought he had the greatest beachside hotel/bar in Florida. Through his rose colored glasses he was doing just fine. He had everything under control.
This guy was majorly self-deceived. His place was a wreck. Complaints every night about the bar music being too loud forced him to give refunds daily. He was losing money quick. But he wasn’t able to see any of this. This owner convinced himself everything was just fine. He rejected Gordon’s attempts to help turn the place around.
Watching this episode really got me thinking. Which of us doesn’t think this same thing about our own lives? In what ways am I self-deceived?
The Subtlety of Self-Deception
One of my biggest problems is thinking that I’m doing just fine.
I’ve got this parenting thing mostly under control.
My marriage is pretty good.
The tendency I have to compare myself to others?
My relationship with food?
The way I view my postpartum body? Oh that? No big deal, I’m on top of it.
Folks, we are self-deceived when we think we’ve got it under control.
We deceive when we orchestrate perfection on social media. We may even be deceptive on purpose, hiding our struggles from people who care about us.
I think it’s extra pernicious when I find myself hiding my struggles from complete strangers so as to appear perfect on the outside. Sometimes I get stuck in the rut of “Check out my amazing vacation pictures! Look at my adorable children behaving perfectly! See how great my life is? Don’t you want to be me?” I want to be seen; I admit that I even want people to envy my life. That’s my sin nature.
These thoughts and feelings might be way down deep, subconscious. But asking the question–Where am I being deceived?–will bring light and eventual restoration. When we pretend we don’t have any problems, we’re really saying we don’t need fixing.
We are saying we don’t need a Savior.
I’ve got a post-it note stuck in the notebook I keep in my purse that says, “Do not be self deceived about my need for a Savior.” Because everyday I am tempted to save myself. I think I can fix ME.
But what’s the truth? The blessed truth is that I am weak. I don’t have the answers for the reasons why I want everyone to like me and think my life is perfect. I don’t have a way out from the prison of comparison. But Jesus is my way out. Jesus says, “I came so that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). What a reminder of the comparison-free lifestyle God offers us!
Abundant living for me means living above approval seeking, sin nature. It’s the freedom to know I alone cannot solve my issues, but have a savior who looks on me with love and who says, nothing is impossible!
Brennan Manning always inspires me in this, he says, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” I’m cautioning us to question where in our lives we are living under an illusion. Bring it into the light and recognize a little renovation and redecorating might be in order to surrender to God’s abundant life He offers. I’m striving to bring out my True Self, the one beloved by God and not run on the opinions of others.
Esther is a recovering perfectionist who lives in Dallas, TX with her husband of four years, Riqui, their two boys, preschooler Emory and baby Elio. She revels in God’s grace and attempts to dish it out to everyone in her life. And she loves to cook and grocery shop. Read Esther’s posts here.