Faith Reflections

Go suck a lemon

“Let’s be honest. You know your heart. The Lord knows your heart. And everybody else can go suck a lemon.”

A dear friend said that to me a month or so ago. It stuck. I realized that my opinion of myself often is reflective of others’ opinions of me. I care far too much about what others think of me and not enough about what God thinks of me.

I know myself. I know who I am. I know what I want. Most of the time I know where I’m going and what I want to accomplish. But I still have this unhealthy desire to hear from others. Who do they say I am?

Last year I had an interview. It was important and big and scary. If I did well in the interview, I would have a job secured for the following school year. If I didn’t, I’d be sent back to the nasty world of substitute teaching. I studied and I practiced my answers. I was ready and feeling confident. They said mid-interview that I was doing well. I thought I had it secured.

But the guy who interviewed me thought otherwise. He turned me down. “You have potential, but you lack depth.” After he said those words and I hung up the phone, I sat in an empty classroom and cried for a long time.

This man who had only interacted with me for a grand total of 20 minutes said I lacked depth. I crumbled. I considered skipping the country to teach elsewhere. I considered switching careers. I questioned whether or not I deserved to be an influence in the lives of children if I’m as shallow as he says I am. I considered a whole number of things because one dude in plaid pants said I lacked depth.

That’s really broken, yet it seems to be the pattern of my social interactions. This person didn’t laugh at my jokes. I musn’t be funny. Those girls stopped inviting me to get-togethers. It must be because I’m dull. That guy doesn’t want to spend every waking moment with me. It must be because I’m not beautiful.

I don’t think seeking affirmation is necessarily wrong. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we’re doing OK, and that people like us. When it turns into consistent behaviour that dictates our mood, actions, and the way we view ourselves, it quickly turns into something sinful and ugly.

Saying that I know my heart and that I look to others for affirmation seems contradictory. I know the woman God wants me to be. I know where my passions and talents lie. I know that I’m silly and fun, talented, tender, compassionate and a good friend. I know these things about myself.

It gets to be confusing when the people tell me otherwise. I start believing them instead of believing God. That’s when I contradict myself. That’s when I’m confused. That’s when I turn away from God and ignore what He’s desperately trying to tell me.
Even if people are good and beautiful and encouraging, their opinions should mean nothing to me. The way they view me should have no impact, because the only thing I should care about is the way my Saviour views me. Because if the One who knew me before the world existed calls me beautiful and lovely, what else matters? Nothing can even come close to that.

Everyone else can go suck a lemon because I have the unconditional love of the One who created me and saved me.

The same friend who told me this lemon bit also told me to write down the phrase, “Who do you say that I am?” I am to write down any words that come to mind in prayer and study. Slowly the Lord is showing me what I look like through his eyes. Not the plaid pants guy’s eyes. Not the exclusive girls’ eyes. Not the cute boy’s eyes. Not even my loved ones’ eyes. HIS eyes. I’m discovering it is vastly different than what I had ever imagined.

Suddenly the opinions of the people around me don’t matter. They don’t dramatically change how I see myself. My mood isn’t dependent on how many compliments I receive. My worth does not come from the people in my life, but from the one who gave me life.

I know my heart. The Lord knows my heart. Everyone else can go suck a lemon.

Flickr photo (cc) by Evil Sivan