Why do I care when my teenager is unhappy with my decision – or when my husband doesn’t parade after me singing accolades of all I’ve accomplished during the day? I also find myself worrying if my house is clean enough – will the friends who stopped in think I’m a slob? Or, maybe they will notice my laminate counter tops – with a gouge in it? After they leave I’m rethinking the conversation in my head. Did that pause in the conversation mean they were offended? On and on it goes…
That little voice creeps up telling me I’m not good enough. The voice I know all to well. The one I’ve heard from childhood. Early on I was desperate for my parents to notice my accomplishments amidst the chaos of their day. Then in elementary school I heard the taunts of the boys chanting, “four eyes, four eyes” seemingly endlessly. As I moved into middle school and got contacts, but I found myself taller than most. Hence I acquired a new nickname – Jolly Green Giant. High school – now high school was better. It was better because I learned to watch people around me and see what they were doing and how others were reacting to them. I then patterned my words and actions accordingly. I learned the art of masks.
In some ways, I still feel like I’m wearing those masks as watching to see what everyone else is wearing, how they are decorating their homes, how they are interacting with their kids. The fear of failure or of being deemed a loser ties me to chains of acceptance that are squeezing my wrists tighter and tighter.
I love my children. I don’t want to hurt them. But, it is unrealistic to expect they will be elated with every restriction I place on them. If they are frustrated at me, but not because of some offense but because I’m upholding God’s Biblical standards, that’s ok. It doesn’t make me a bad person. I can feel the chains slipping off as this thought becomes clearer in my mind.
I don’t need others to affirm my every move. If my poor tired husband doesn’t notice the clean clothes in his dresser drawers before he’s even gone upstairs –where the dresser is – it doesn’t define me. When I think about it, I don’t even notice the ding on my counter tops And honestly, I’m kind of glad they are older laminate, I can just use them and enjoy them and not worry about staining them. I’m sure I would love new granite ones someday, but there are just so many more important things that come into my life every day. I just don’t have the time or energy to worry about them right now. I realize I’m ok with that. I was just not ok with the idea that someone else wasn’t ok with it. Someone who doesn’t live here, who doesn’t use them and who wouldn’t be putting the energy into changing them out. Clank, clack…I hear chains hitting the ground.
instead of fretting at every conversation, what if I just pray before I meet with someone and ask God to, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) It will help me feel more confident.
I feel like a weight is lifted. I can jump and run, no longer bound by the chains that have held me since I was a wee-one. I can just be me.
What if others don’t like me? Does that make me a failure? Do others determine that?
Am I a failure?
No! A thousand times, “NO!”
I love Jesus. I am trying to be more like Him every day. That is success. Success is not defined by dressing right, saying the right thing, decorating my house a certain way or having people verbally affirm me. No, success is walking each moment hand-in-hand with Jesus. Quietly listening for His promptings, obeying His word and by asking myself at the end of the day, “Did I please Jesus today?”
Galatians 1:10 (NIV) says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes and showing me where I was walking on the wrong path. I don’t want to walk the path of acceptance of others. The burden is too heavy. Thank you for accepting me and loving me even when I was unlovable. I want to be a blessing to those around me. I want my time to be freed up to enjoy people and not be a slave to what I think they might be thinking. Thank you for your everlasting love. Amen.