By Margaret, The Rope Editor
I’ve had a rough couple of months. Before this blog, I never would’ve told anyone that. And why is that? I’ve always claimed privacy is the cause, but now I wonder if it’s something else entirely.
I’ve said before that I’m a preacher’s kid. Because of that, I’ve always felt a responsibility to be perceived well. I don’t know if my parents ever told me that was important or if I just picked it up along the way — it’s just an ingrained thought I carry with me.
Being perceived well has always been the equivalent of having a good witness in my mind, but is that even accurate? Is it bad to have a witness that’s filled with mistakes and brokenness and overwhelming guilt but continues to love God and strive for His purpose? Is it better to have a witness that seems nearly perfect but hides the pain and shortcomings that make life a quiet struggle?
I know my thoughts seem a little choppy, but each one builds and adds another layer to one burdening thought:
Does my fear of others’ perception of me get in the way of sharing with and loving people like Jesus tells me to?
I can go ahead and tell you that it does. Only recently have I started accepting that I’m going to look like an awkward fool when He tells me to pray with someone in the middle of a workday or at the end of a phone call.
And what’s so crazy is sometimes I feel like I did the exact right thing and other times I walk away feeling like such an idiot. Dear Consistency, I’m ready for a visit!
All of these thoughts boil down to the issue of being real with people. Everyone messes up. Everyone feels *insert negative adjective here* at some point. Everyone struggles with judging others. So why don’t we talk about it? Why don’t we make each other stronger by sharing burdens?
I fear peoples’ opinions of me. That’s something I will probably always struggle with. But I don’t want that fear to control my actions anymore. Do you?
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Margaret, thank you for opening up about not wanting to open up. 🙂 And nope, I don’t want fear of what other people think controlling my actions. Nope, nope, nope. Several years ago I struggled with people’s opinions of me (not saying I don’t anymore, but I really struggled back then). And, in the midst of that, I felt SUPER not-good-enough. I always felt judged. I always felt stupid. I canceled meetings and other activities and took a 24-hour “retreat” with no one around me, no technology whatsoever so no phone, no food for part of the day even. I just had my journal, my Bible and time with the Father. As the hours passed by and my conversation with the Father continued, tears rolled and words were spit out on the page of my journal, and I realized something — it didn’t matter what others thought of me … it only mattered what God thought of me. When I didn’t know how to comfort a friend, did He think I was stupid? When I didn’t spend my time doing what I should have done in ministry, did He say I wasn’t usable for His work? When I felt ugly and fat, did He see me that way? When I didn’t have my life planned out and didn’t know what was next, did He think I was immature and unprepared? The answer to all of these? No. There were many questions that had been rolling in my head, many things I had felt judged on. But…the ultimate walk-away was that it truly did not, and does not, matter what others see or think. Christ is the Judge. He’s the one that we should want to please. He’s the one that we should seek approval from. Doesn’t necessarily make it easier all the time, but, it is the truth. And something we should cling to when the questions come.
Nellie, that is so true! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me. I know a bit of what you describe of pulling away from people. Isn’t it so freeing that His is the only opinion worth listening to??
Maggie, I feel certain you will outgrow the concern you have with others’ opinions. That point in life is (singing) faaabulous!
Haha I can’t wait, Mrs. Gail!
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