Around the first grade, my kids began quote to me what others were saying. It was often with the intent to get me to change my mind, and it didn’t tend to work. However, the residual opinions of others have a way of sticking with us and making us feel small. For the sake of this blog, I am going give a name to the many know-it-alls who were full of less than useful information. Let’s call these people Bertha.
- Bertha says that my bedtime is too early. She does not have to go to bed till way later than I do.
- Bertha says your rule about just eating one dessert is stupid. She gets to eat dessert whenever she wants to.
- Bertha gets to read this book (that you have said I am not allowed to read) or watch this show or play this video game…
By Junior High, the criticism from their classmates got more insidious and mean-spirited:
- Bertha says the dress you bought me for picture day is ugly and makes me look fat.
No matter what information I was presented with, I tended to respond with the same statement, “Is Bertha a reliable source of information?” You see who and what you listen to has a powerful impact on happiness. All of us, including me after 63 years, can give credence to people as credible as 13-year-old Bertha. These are our experiences in life, and they are NOT without emotion. You see the Berthas in our lives are not only outspoken kids, but they can also be parents or teachers, bosses or friends or siblings. They are anyone or anything we listen to and believe over what is true. And what is true, is what God has said. Yes, they are not reliable sources of information, but there is a part of us that believes what they say and that causes us a world of hurt. It’s hard to forget the criticism, the insults, the embarrassment we have suffered both as kids and as adults and not let it influence what we believe about ourselves today.
Here’s a few possibilities of what our experiences might have told us about ourselves:
- Have you ever been forgotten or left behind? The message is clear. You are not important enough to be remembered.
- Have you ever been lied to, cheated on, or tricked? The message is that you are hated and not valued.
- Have you ever been overlooked, not picked, not invited, or made fun of? The message is that you are unwanted, unskilled, or unworthy or just not good.
Makes sense? Not so fast. Here’s the important question. Who made us? Only the Creator can say what the creation is. That’s God. So, who does God say that am?
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
- I am loved. (John 15:13)
- I am made in God’s image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26)
When God created man, He breathed into Him (Gen 2:7). In all of us, there is a part of God’s eternal nature. It is good. It is valuable. It is not a mistake. Why is that important? Because when we believe that we are less than what God says we are, we try to make up that difference ourselves. When I think I am insignificant, unimportant or not good enough, I try to fix the problem. And inevitably I sin doing it. Sin can be seen as meeting a real need in a wrong way. Those are the times I compare or compete, I put others down, I take for myself, or I give into loneliness, isolation, and depression. All of this is dependent on me believing what others say about me and not what God has said.
I wish the solution was a fast and easy fix, but I did not get this way overnight, and I can’t overcome untrue or false thoughts instantly either. They seem very real to me. But it’s not God’s truth. The battle is one day at a time, and clearly it is a battle — one that requires resolve and consistency. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
What I can commit to is:
- Recognizing that there is a difference between God’s truth and my perceptions of reality. -And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
- Siding only with God. It’s not my side verses someone else’s side. It’s only God’s side, only His point of view, His truth which is found in the Bible. -Let God be true and every man a liar. (Romans 3:14) -God is not a man that He should lie. (Numbers 23:19)
- Daily work hard to recall and rehearse what God has said about me. -This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
So that’s my choice today. Instead of listening to the Berthas in my life who are not reliable sources of information, I turn to Jesus. This isn’t just a one-time battle; past Berthas continue to invade my thoughts with reminders of my insecurities and failures. But I must persistently ask Jesus for the courage to finish the fight of faith – believing all that He has said about me is true.
— Written by Jill
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