One morning last week, I spilled coffee on my skirt. This is a typical thing for me. I am often clumsy – so much so that someone has actually asked me to pray for them every time I spill my drinks. This particular day however, I didn’t notice the stain until after I had already left the house, so I spent the entire day in a skirt stained with coffee – front and center. Embarrassing. I noticed that as I went through the day I kept telling everyone about my coffee stain, thinking, “If I just tell them that it’s there, then they won’t be able to think or say anything about it that I haven’t already said myself.” Most people’s response was, “Oh, I wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t said anything.” Those little moments throughout the day taught me something very important about myself.
For a while I have felt bogged down by fear, anxiety, worries, and negative criticisms of myself. I have realized many times in my life that I sometimes hold on to these things because I feel that they keep me safe. Somewhere in my mind, I think that if I worry enough, I will be able to figure out all the possible things that will go wrong and avoid them. I also (usually subconsciously) think that if I can criticize myself enough (in my thoughts or speech), then I won’t be hurt or surprised when other people criticize me because I will have prepared myself for it – like when I spilled coffee on myself, for example.
Lately I have been realizing just how horrible that thought process is. Even when my criticisms stay in my own thoughts, they are hurting me and affecting my relationships with others. Maybe they are hurting me even more then because I feel stuck in them, and don’t bring them to the light. Logically, it sounds crazy to me that I would criticize the gifts, the beauty, and the goodness that God has created in me. It’s even crazier that my reason is because I’m afraid that if I don’t criticize myself, then I will be caught off-guard by someone else’s criticism. So not only am I criticizing myself, but that criticism is coming out of fear. And I should know by now that fear is not from God (read 1 John 4:18).
I know that God has been calling me deeper into freedom from these things. Often the problem is that I have to be willing to let them go. Am I willing to let go of the “safety” that I feel by worrying? I’m a willing to stop tearing myself down and risk that someone else might hurt me instead?
The truth is that the better defense is to let go of my fears and let go of my criticisms and allow God to speak His truth into my life about the gifts, the beauty, and the goodness that He has created in me. Because then when someone does criticize me, I will KNOW the truth of God’s love. I will know who I am in Him. I will know how to distinguish between what is truly something I need to grow in, and what is just someone else’s opinion.
The bottom line is that I want and desire to be firmly rooted in God’s truth. I desire freedom. I want it. God wants it for me. And I have to trust that He will take me there as I enter into this journey with Him.