Monday, August 15, 2011

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

A young friend of mine shared good and surprising news with me today. For a few months, she’s been heavy-hearted about a major rift between mutual friends, friends who were once close and loved each other dearly. The good news is that the friends are taking steps to reconcile.

The surprising news, my friend said, is that God is using her to bring about the reconciliation. Her own family, she added softly, always called her “The Problem”. Whenever there was a family conflict, they said it was her fault, no matter what anyone else had done. With tears in her eyes, she said, “They call me the problem. But I’m actually the solution.”

At some point, all of us need to learn what my young friend is learning: not to believe everything we’re told about ourselves.

Most of us don’t have to think hard to remember a negative label someone -- parent, teacher, coach, friend -- has given us.
Lazy. Dumb. Procrastinator. Selfish. Uncooperative. Class Clown. Troublemaker. Rebellious. Delinquent. Unwanted. Loner. Loser. Nervous. Shy.
Any of us have probably acted in all of these ways at one time or another, but that doesn’t mean we will be that way forever. If someone else has been so ungracious as to call us that, we mustn't let their words define the way we choose to act now.

Some of us have also been given “positive” labels.
Smart. Pretty. Outgoing. Athlete. Good Worker. Artist. Funny. Energetic.
These labels seem nicer than the ones in the first list, but they can put unwanted pressure on us. They leave some of us feeling we must always be smart, outgoing, pretty or athletic, in order to be worthy of the title... or worthy at all.

The truth is, each of us is an assortment of desirable and not-so-desirable traits. None of us behaves in any particular way all of the time. When we accept that, we give ourselves – and others – room to grow, and we can become the unique and diverse people God planned for us to be.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart."
--  From God to the Prophet Jeremiah.


  1. Beautiful and so well said. You are such a talented writer my friend! Thank you for blessing us with your word craft.

  2. I need to be reminded of this often... regarding perceptions of myself and perceptions I have of others. Thanks for your comment.