Recently, I printed Laura’s I AM Designed and spent the next thirty days answering the daily questions and taking time to reflect on each one. Day nine asked the question, “What area in your life are you often attacked? Do you see how those could be the areas where you are made for purpose?”
The first part of that question was easy for me to answer. The area I’ve been attacked the most in is public speaking. However, when I read that second part- it caused me to pause. I never once thought about why I was attacked so much in that one area. And how it could be because that’s the area God is going to use me in.
I’ve preached and had someone deeply criticize me- every single time for years. I watched people laugh at me while I shed a tear speaking on subjects that were close to my heart. I’ve been invited to speak at events and total strangers would tell me I talk too fast. I had a boss whose job was on the line and my name was suggested to take over since I was a good public speaker. That boss found out and made sure to demote me in every single way, trying to save his job and prevent me from being promoted.
Being young, I didn’t know better. I didn’t know how to set boundaries and when to discern what’s truth from lies. I thought if I was told I talk too fast it meant that it was wrong and needed to be fixed. I thought because I was told not to cry and it’s a sign of weakness, that it was wrong to shed a few tears when speaking. Because certain people would laugh when I would open up, I thought what I was saying was silly and I shouldn’t share anymore.
Because of this, I became a people pleaser. I figured if I did whatever everyone else wanted or expected of me then I wouldn’t have to hear the painful criticism. I was holding back, and it was a constant internal struggle between speaking out and keeping quiet.
Don’t we all do that from time to time? We wear the words of others as truth and they become the lenses we see ourselves through. We start the ugly habit of comparing ourselves to other people. We wonder what we’re doing wrong and how everyone else seems to be doing it right. We become trapped and stop ourselves from living a life that glorifies God.
I spent two years hiding. Then one day my husband James and I were at a Bible study where we didn’t know anyone. After the evening was over a lady came over to me and very lovingly said, “You come across quiet and introverted but that’s not who you are. That’s not who God created you to be. Let go of the painful words of others. Let go of their false truths. Get out of the box they tried to put you in and walk in being who God has called you to be. Speak.” I stood there stunned not knowing what to say but knew finally someone was speaking truth to me.
I asked Him to help me let go of the words of others, to see myself the way He sees me, and to stop wearing the insecurities of others as my truth.
For you and I to even know how to love others and ourselves- we must know the One who loved first.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”
This verse played on repeat in my heart. I dug deep into scripture and looked up every verse that states how God views His children. I wrote them all down in my journal and prayed them daily.
I want to encourage you to do the same when you’re struggling to see who you really are in the eyes of Christ. When you’re struggling to be confident with how Christ made you or who He made you to be, go to the Word. When you start walking in the love the Lord has for you, it will transform the way you see and love yourself and others. You will be able to discern truth from lies and will know when to hold on or throw away the words of others.
One of the worst things you could do to yourself is believe the lies of others and wear them as your truth. You will hold yourself back in every single way possible. Sometimes people will share things with you that is the truth, whether it’s delivered in a loving way or not. But many times, people say things because they’re hurting or they’re jealous, or both.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God started to show me the heart of those who criticize. He showed me those who would laugh at me when I cried while speaking were people who struggle themselves with showing emotion. God showed me how I talk fast when I’m passionate about what I’m speaking on and showed me other women speakers who not only do the same thing but embrace it and make light of it. God showed me those who criticized were the ones who were trying to cover up their own insecurities and self-doubt.
After showing me this, He gave me compassion for them. So now whenever I see someone operating out of a heart of criticism, I pray for them. I pray for them to love themselves and others the way Christ loves. I pray for their words to turn from criticism to encouragement. I also pray for those hearing the criticism. For them to know who they are in the eyes of Christ and to discern truth from lies.
While you’re reading this today I’m sure you can relate to harsh words of criticism. No one is immune to them, so please know that I’m praying for you. I pray for you to be released, experience freedom, and for God to show you boundaries you can set to protect yourself from future unmerited hurt. I also pray God will give you words of life to speak over others because you never know who is dealing with this too.