Over the last week I have struggled with what to write about. I’ve had 9 million things running around in my head, and my heart has been heavy for so many (including my self). There have been some really awesome things going on, and some not at all awesome things. Most days I don’t know if I should laugh or cry, but I do know that whichever I choose to do, I must keep going. But in all the chaos, there is one thing I have been hearing very clearly from the Lord: “Stop trying to prove yourself to other people Leiah!” I figure if I need to hear it, someone else does to.
Proving my self to others is not a new thing for me. This disgusting habit goes back as far as I can remember. I can’t exactly pin point the reason I am that way. Maybe something about being the third child, and youngest in my family. Maybe something about being a girl. Maybe it’s in my genes. Or just maybe its a lie the enemy has been telling me since I was old enough to listen, and society has fed that lie until it became so natural to me that I didn’t even notice I was doing it any more. I am going with the latter (and maybe a bit of the first three all piled in there too). Either way, it has been a consuming need in my life for decades, one that makes me feel cheap, and less than, and never good enough for anyone.
I’ve tried doing things just like others wanted me to or said I should. I’ve tried breaking away from the opinions of others and doing things opposite of what “they” wanted or suggested. I’ve compared my self to others, tried to be like them. I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out what others want or need from me, and then trying desperately to become that. I’ve been in the “it” crowd, and I’ve been the outcast. I’ve been talked about, misunderstood, and completely misrepresented by others, and apologized to them because they “took me the wrong way”. I’ve said I am sorry to people for not being what they wanted me to be, or thought I should be. I’ve rearranged my life to make others feel better about me.
I’ve work hard, so stinking hard to be what was expected of me. I’ve said no to things that were important to me because they didn’t suit someone else. I’ve turned down opportunities because they might upset someone else. I’ve quit things I wanted to continue in. I’ve continued things I wanted to quit ALL for someone else to be happy with me. I’ve lost weight and worked out so someone else would be happier with me. I’ve stopped saying certain things, or acting certain ways, or showing certain emotions around certain people so they would “feel better” or “just couldn’t handle me”. I’ve tried to change just about every part of who I am at some point to prove my self to someone else. I developed an eating disorder just to prove to someone that I wasn’t fat for heavens sake! Just typing all that out, knowing its the absolute truth makes me sick. You know why? Because NONE of it did me one single tiny bit of good, but has caused a whole lot of harm.
Yes, maybe it kept peace with someone for a time, or gave someone a bit of satisfaction when I heeded their advice, or valued their opinion. Perhaps it even kept some people around longer that I thought I needed. Maybe someone liked me or even loved me conditionally for a while because of it all. But none of it made a difference in the end. I could never keep up the “act” of proving my self to other people for very long. I have Jesus to thank for that, and BOY DO I THANK HIM! He’s been continually waging war on me in an attempt to bring me back to the Leiah he created me to be. Every time I have done one of those things I listed, it always blew up in my face. When even a hint of my true self reared its head, whoever I was trying to prove my self to was done with me. Sometimes I was dumb enough to apologize and try again, but only to arrive at the same place again in a little while. It hurt. It hurt in ways I never wanted to feel pain when the rejection came. It hurt in the deep places when my “proving period” came to an end, only to show that the only thing I had proven was that I couldn’t be what the other person wanted. Now some of you who have never dealt with this ugly “prove my self” stuff will wonder why the heck I even cared in the first place (I wish I had a good answer). But those of you who have been there too, well you know exactly what I mean. But let me tell you, there’s hope. There’s hope in Jesus to end this vicious, soul sucking cycle of proving yourself to other people.
I am so thankful that I have a relationship with Jesus. I mean I AM THANKFUL in ways I could never express. Not only did he die on a cross and suffer in ways I could never imagine to save me from my sins, and a Devils Hell, but he saves me from my self. Did you hear me? HE SAVES ME FROM MY SELF! I’ve read and heard the scripture Hebrews 12:6 countless times. The lord disciplines, and chastens the ones he loves (paraphrased). It sounds crazy right? Why would you willingly want to be in relationship with someone who disciplines and chastens you because He loves you? Let me just tell you, it’s for the reason I am talking about now. He loves me enough to call me out on proving my self to others because He doesn’t want me to live in that mess. He knows who he created me to be, and he wants me to be proud of that, and to walk with my head held high knowing and believing and living out the identity I have in HIM. He knows and understands that there is no one, not one single person, worth losing your identity in Christ over. He has been there to comfort me each and every time that pattern of proving my self to others has left me broken. He has picked up the pieces, and put me back together more times than I can count. He has seen the chaos and confusion, hurt, sadness, loneliness, regret, and emptiness that has been left behind each time I repeat the steps of proving my self to others.
You see, the only one worth proving yourself to, is Jesus. You know how you do that? Not by working yourself to death, or changing who you truly are, but by LOVING him, and following his will for your life to become who you were truly meant to be! It is the TOTAL opposite of proving your self to other people. All that does is cause you to change who you were created to be, and take you further and further away from God in turn. But when you begin to change things in your life to actually become who you were meant to be in Christ you don’t get the sadness, and emptiness, and brokenness. You instead get true, authentic joy. You are fulfilled, and whole. Not only that, but where people demand you change things about your self, are impatient with you, and unforgiving if you can’t do it or keep it up, Jesus is the opposite. He invites us to become who he created us to be. If we accept, he tells us how to get there, and helps us along the way. He forgives us if we mess it up, and helps us to get back on track, and EVEN if we don’t accept it, he still loves us anyway. Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that what we should all be flooding the gates of Heaven for? Yet instead we are down here chasing after the approval of other people. Aren’t you tired of that? I am.
So going forward, I am going to live unapologetic to being who God called me to be. I will live humbly before God, soaking up his word, his will, and his ways. I will live walking forward every day towards the person God created me to be. I will not apologize for not meeting other people’s standards, but instead will apologize to God for taking so long to live up to his. I will hate to hurt the feelings of others if being me is not making them happy, but not more than I hate to be walking in ANYTHING less than God’s best for me. I will love to encourage others because it’s what God has called me to do, and not for ANY other reason. I will love that I am breaking free day by day of the invisible pressure to please others at the expense of my self. I will not intentionally offend or hurt anyone, and will act wisely according to God’s word. I will pray for others, admit when I am wrong, and make right the things I can. I will not take offense to being misunderstood without an opportunity to explain my self. I will not be bothered that others don’t want to hear my side of the story. I will not, I repeat will not, use this as a way to be cruel, or unkind, or malicious or manipulative, or to avoid responsibility, or not live up to expectations that I AM required to live up to.
I will give thanks to the Lord for loving me enough to call me out, and break the chains of proving my self to others. I will declare that in Christ I am enough. I will say to those who are uncomfortable with who I am that I know what they feel like because I had to get uncomfortable to find my self in Christ. I will love others by loving my self. It is only when I know how to love who Jesus created me to be, than I can ever know how to love others and what he created them to be. It is only then that I can encourage those who don’t know who they are to find out. It is only then that I can truly lead others to be free of proving themselves.
I don’t have to be hermit, or avoid every other person on earth in order to not feel the need to prove my self, because you better believe I have even tried to prove my self to my self! But what I do have to do is be so comfortable and in tune with who Jesus created me to be that no matter where I am, or what or who I am faced with in this life that I don’t for one second second guess it. And if the desire to prove myself rears it’s ugly head, I will take it to God in prayer and accept the victory I have in Christ over it! Why don’t you join me? Maybe you’ve been too afraid to listen to the voice of God when he’s spoken the same thing to you. Maybe you’re afraid of who might leave you, or want nothing else to do with you if you actually become the person you were intended to be all along. Maybe you’re afraid of who God’s calling you to be because you don’t think you’re capable. Maybe you think when you “get it all together like those other people” then you can do it.
Well honey I’ve got news for you. No body has it all together. I don’t, you don’t, she don’t, he don’t, they don’t, we don’t. Catch my drift? The Lord isn’t just speaking to me today. He’s speaking to you too.
So ill ask again: Why don’t you join me? Just do it afraid of you have to. Know that on your own you aren’t capable, but with Jesus working in you and through you, that you can conquer this giant! The Lord wants to heal all those broken places left in shambles after yet another round of proving yourself to others. He wants to go waaaay back to the first time you believed this lie, and start there. He want’s to walk with you every step of the way. He wants to listen to your hurt and confusion and speak words of comfort and instruction and TRUTH. Let him. Let him love you out of this mess, and know that I’m right there letting him love me out of it too.
Stop trying to prove yourself to other people.