I recently enjoyed some coffee time with a few girl friends at the delightful 3 Bears Cafe and Quilts in our small town. It’s the kind of place where you feel good just being there, surrounded by bolts of bright-colored fabrics and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Our conversation focused on what was happening in our lives. As I came away from our time together, I thought about how each of us has struggled with a negative opinion of ourselves. The “voices” that tell you you’ll never be good enough to attract a caring, kind man, you’re too stupid to ever amount to much, you’ll never be able to change in a positive way. One friend told how her 8-yr. old grandson already considers himself a loser! How sad that he’s decided this so early life.
At one time or another, we’ve all heard about the power of words–how they can have a positive or negative impact–especially when we’re vulnerable as children. Even though we can’t control the words that others may hurl at us, we can learn to deflect them. We can sidestep them–evaluate whether what is being said has any truth. Then we can focus on God’s truth of who He says we are instead of being influenced by others’ opinions. We can believe we are enough.
When I was a third-grader, I had an emotionally unstable teacher. As I child, I didn’t have the maturity to evaluate her comments, to temper them, and be OK with myself. Instead, I spent that year in her classroom terrified of her anger. We students didn’t know who the unsuspecting victim of her wrath would be on any particular day. On at least one occasion, it was me. One June day, I sat at my desk long after all my classmates had finished their math tests. My clammy hands felt sticky on the desk. The blank test paper told the story. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
Uh-I don’t know, I stammered.
What don’t you understand? Mrs. Miller screamed at me. She picked me up out of my desk and shook me, trying to force out an answer.
By this time, I was hyperventilating. I don’t remember how I got free from her grasp. All I know is I ran out of the classroom without looking back. I pedaled home on my bike at lightspeed. I refused to go back to school that afternoon. In between sobs, I tried to explain to my mom what had happened. I had bought the lie: I was stupid. School was no fun. I had to be on high alert because of a teacher’s emotional outbursts. Math was difficult through most of my school career.
The following year, I had a patient and compassionate teacher. She was surprised by how shaken I was when asked to go to the blackboard to solve a math problem–a story problem–the worst! She wrapped her arm around me and assured me I could do the math. With encouragement, I found the classroom to be a safe place where I could learn and grow.
It isn’t easy to move beyond the negative, critical voices we’ve all experienced. To believe we are enough, that God designed us to be unique, beautiful creations. I really like the graphic by Holly Gerth inserted above. Yes, we are imperfect and flawed. Some of us can’t do math. But we’re loved through it all if we can only dare to believe. And the best part is that we don’t have to apply to be selected as a recipient of God’s love. He has already chosen us.
Here’s what the Creator of the Universe says about you:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
I will strengthen you and help you. Isaiah 41:10
I have called you by name. You are mine. Isaiah 43:1
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:16
I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
You are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31
I will be with you always. Matthew 28:20
I have called you friend. John 15:15
I chose you. John 15:16
Today’s Assignment: Begin to believe YOU ARE ENOUGH!