This is a post that has been ruminating in my mind for some time now. It is a jumble of thoughts, and even as I sit writing it out for the first time, I’m not 100% sure of all that I will say. But I do know this, I want you to remember something more than anything. In the words of Aibileen from The Help, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
This quote resonates with me (and many other women) so much for two main reasons.
- Because it is true. God makes it quite clear in the Bible that everyone has value and is important.
- Because we all want to hear this. We need to have people in our lives who affirm us and who teach us to affirm ourselves.
Often in my life I have been very shy, very timid. I have worried quite a bit about what others think, so much so that this fear paralyzed me, caused me to hide, stopped me from doing things that I wanted to do. I love a whole lot of things, but if you looked at my life you would never know that I love these things because they are hidden. I hide them away in my mind, the one place where it has felt safe to keep them.
- I love fashion. I love clothes and jewelry. But I don’t feel pretty and I worry that others may criticize my fashion choices so I play it safe and try to act like I’m not trying too hard.
- I love getting manicures and pedicures, but I rarely get up the nerve to go because I feel the technician will think my hands and feet are hideous.
- I love to sing. You will never hear me sing a solo because the whole idea terrifies me.
- I have loved blogs for a long time but I never thought that I was a good enough writer, or cute enough, or smart enough to be a blogger.
- I love people, but my relationships have suffered (as I mentioned here) because I listen to the voice that says “They don’t really like you, they’re just being polite. Don’t put yourself out there too much”.
That voice, that awful voice that convinces us that we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or important enough… maybe you’ve heard it too? I can tell you one thing that I have learned for sure. That is not the voice of someone who loves me and knows me. That voice brings me down. It hurts me. It isolates me from the intimacy of community. It keeps me from trying new things. It keeps me from being fully me.
That voice wants to destroy me but God wants the best for my life.
So how do I deal with all of this?
This is an ongoing battle and from time to time I still struggle with doubts and fears, but I have found 3 things to be most helpful:
1. Asking God to heal the hurts of the past
I have been called a lot of names and picked on a lot growing up and it hurts. I’m sure you have felt those pains too. Sometimes it will take some time for the wounds to heal, but God is faithful and he will help heal the hurts of our hearts.
2. Surrounding myself with others who speak affirmation into my life
Some people will seek to hurt you, some people unwittingly hurt you, but some will seek to bless you with their actions. We don’t always have control over the people in our lives. We can’t pick our coworkers or family, for example, but as much as possible I try to surround myself with people who will speak affirmation into my life. This doesn’t mean that they will never criticize or disagree with me, but overall these people love me and seek to bless me with their words, not hurt me. Most importantly these people can help point me back to the truth of Gods love and affirmation. And little by little, I am learning how to speak this affirmation back into their lives too.
3. Guarding my thought life
You know that voice I talked about earlier, the one that wants to hurt and destroy me? It will probably never go away completely, at least it hasn’t yet. So there will be times when it creeps back in and starts to fill my heart with lies again. And when that does happen, I have to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. I have to push those thoughts out and focus on what I know to be true.
These are the thoughts I have to focus on:
- God says that I have value and I’m important. (Matthew 10:29-31)
- God loves me. Unconditionally. (Romans 5:8)
- God wants to carry my burdens. (Matthew 11:28-30)
- My life has a purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11)
And so going forward I am trying to put myself out there more. I am trying not to let fears and negative thoughts stop me from doing things that I want to do, from exploring and figuring out more of who I am, and from reaching out to others and deepening current relationships. In putting myself out there more I know that I am opening myself up to criticisms, failures, and hurts. People might not like my new outfits. I might be really bad at applying makeup for a while. I might reach out to someone who I see as a friend and they may reject me. Someone might not like my blog. But I’m at a place where I am ok with that. Not because I don’t care what others think, but because I care more about what God thinks. And that’s where my focus is gonna be because just as Aibileen spoke affirmation into Mae’s life, I look to God to speak it into my life.
And I hope that sharing this struggle that I have helps you too. Look to God’s voice to tell you who you are. Surround yourself with Aibileen’s who will lovingly speak truth into your life and help you to speak it to yourself. Be their Aibileen as well because we all need to be reminded:
You is kind. You is smart. You is important.