It was a moment I knew would come eventually, but I was nevertheless unprepared. It was a moment that invoked deep dread and fear, but I knew it was inevitable. It was the moment when my precious child came home from school with a look of defeat and tender pain on her face and announced to me:
“Zach said I was stupid.”
Mama Bear wanted to burst out the door, find this insolent Zach child and give him a fierce talking-to. How dare he insult my baby? Who does he think he is? I’ll tell him a thing or two about stupid…
But no. That would be neither productive nor helpful. So instead, I took her in my arms, kissed her sweet head and said, “Tell me something. Is that true?”
“Who does God say you are?”
“He loves me?”
“That’s absolutely right. You don’t need to worry about what Zach says. You know what is true.”
Physician, heal thyself.
How often do I allow someone’s words to cut me to the core? How often to I question my own worth and the truth of who I am because I cannot gain someone’s attention or approval? It’s junior high all over again. You would think I would have gotten over it by now.
I thought I was. At 35, I am confident in who I am and what I believe, and I’m no longer afraid to voice my opinions – even the unconventional ones – and stand by them. I am finally comfortable in my own skin, however stretched and wrinkled it may be.
Yet I’ve found myself lately in a fierce battle with myself. My thoughts are littered with preoccupation, wondering what someone is thinking about me or about something I did or said. I am constantly reminding myself that it doesn’t matter and that the emotional boundaries I’ve so carefully constructed are there for a reason.
That’s the funny thing about battles – it’s usually not about the person with whom you think you’re butting heads or disagreeing. The enemy is not your child’s teacher or your mother-in-law or the teller at the bank. The real enemy is yourself – dutifully accompanied by all your hurt and jealousy and insecurity, all waiting to brandish the swords and howl a lonely battle cry. The sad irony is that in such a battle, you slay the enemy before realizing that the greatest casualty is your own heart.
I’m constantly begging God to set me free from myself.
This spring, I’ve been working through Beth Moore’s study of Esther. If you’ve never read the story of Esther before, open your Bible in the middle, flip back a few books and dive into this intriguing 10 chapters. Or check out the Veggie Tales version. King Xerxes is a giant zucchini, his enemies are French peas, and Haman is some kind of gourd that looks a little like a Chicago gangster. I still can’t figure out what kind of vegetable Esther is – maybe a string bean…?
(I really need to get more sleep. And a life. And the ability to focus.)
In the story of Esther, Haman is the bad guy. He wants recognition, power, and admiration so much that when a single, seemingly insignificant person refuses to bow down to him, he issues a decree to wipe out an entire nation of people in a single day.
Bad, bad Haman. Boo! Hiss!
We don’t like Haman. Haman is bad. Haman is evil. Haman is…me.
Not that I’m going to go on a killing rampage when someone ignores my friend request on Facebook. But it wouldn’t take much for me to completely fixate on that person and that situation until I make myself crazy wondering what I did to be so undeserving of her attention. Why am I not good enough? Please love me! Pleasepleaseplease notice me! Despite all the good things around me, despite having the complete and unconditional love of so many, those kinds of thoughts can consume me and belittle me until I forget everything that is true.
Who do I say you are, dear one?
Fearfully and wonderfully made. Completely accepted and approved. A beloved child of the King.
Then you don’t need to worry about what anyone else says. It doesn’t matter if anyone else notices you. You know what is true.
Ultimately, His is the only approval I truly need. So I put away the sword, tenderly smooth salve over my self-inflicted wounds, and take another small, seemingly insignificant step forward.
And perhaps Zach will live to see another day.