People say I’m quiet. I wouldn’t think so unless they did. They say I’m patient, but I would never have thought so myself. Some say I’m shy. My family tells me I’m smart and thoughtful and kind.
Inside, I’m only a weak little lamb surrendering to a Savior whenever I remember, letting Him take my few loaves and fish and multiply them, whenever I think of it. But when I think only of myself I am nothing. When I acknowledge Him in every aspect of my life, He shines out of me, revealing His everything.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Cor. 3:18
Nevertheless, whenever I think of myself, it matters to me, what people say. What they think. I wonder what they really think, if they say what they really think. I wonder.
People are mysterious. I have hardly even begun getting to know myself. It helps to know what they think by what they say. When I think of only myself, it matters to me, because I want to know who I am in their opinion, and I want to be more me according to whatever good things they think of me. None of what they think matters. Only God’s opinion matters, because He’s the only One who knows the real me, whoever I am. And He is the only One who is truly good.
But whenever I think of myself, I care. I care about me too much. I care what others think of me, and I blush when they compliment me. Am I going to bow before them at the end of the world? No. But I still care, and I still have a lot to learn to give up myself in every way and take pride in Him rather than in my own talents, skills, or looks.
If I’m understanding the world right, everyone cares about themselves on some level. Most want to live, at least. Those who don’t, well, sadly, they don’t often exist for long.
But those who do care enough to live, care enough to wonder what others think. Mostly. Unless they’ve mastered the beauty of being fully content, fully secured, and fully surrendered in they love of Christ. I know it’s possible to not care so much about yourself, because I’ve had a sweet taste of it whenever I simply devote myself to loving Him and others. It’s possible to care about God so much that you run off and care for others with all that love for God spilling out of you. That’s what I want. More than sleep, food, money, wifi, fame, college—even, when I’m focusing completely on His goodness and glory, more than my future husband. I want to give. To love. To really, truly care for others that I have no time to think of myself. And it doesn’t matter how much I do it, it matters how much love I put in doing it. As Mother Teresa explained, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
I want to rest in God’s love for me with all that I am and acknowledge His presence and power with every part of my being. I long for His Holy Spirit to fill each nook and cranny of my heart with the ever-present knowledge that I am loved. Because as soon as each one of us takes that step and surrenders to Jesus Christ and His ultimate example of love on the cross, we can see how utterly meaningless our past little mistakes were.
“Then [Jesus] said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’” – Luke 9:23-24
Each day we take that glorious all-for-Him and none-for-me step, denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him, it won’t matter if we say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing, because in the end we will be abundantly rewarded for our surrender. Who says it’s the wrong thing, anyway? People? Psh! What does it matter what they think? We’re not going to bow before each other at the end of the world. We’re going to bow before our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows us more than anyone, even ourselves.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11
Our Father in Heaven knows us enough to laugh at us for our foolish mistakes. But does He? No! The Lord of all Creation says we have worth, not because of what we do, but because of what He’s done. Not because of some inner beauty we think we have, but because of His decision to love us and save us and call us to a holy life. He loves us even though we’re awkward, insecure people. He has placed value in us from the very beginning, and He knows the deepest parts of our souls more than we ourselves could ever know. He loves us extravagantly more than people do, not because of who we are, but simply because of who He is. If the Creator of Life loves us and knows us and made us —well, what are mere humans compared to Him? As FDR famously declared, all that me or you should ever have to fear is fear itself. We should never, ever fear what others think.
God is much bigger than people, and eternity is much longer than earthly life. If we look at the world through God’s eyes, we can see that everyone else is an insecure human being just like we are—desperately in need of love and forgiveness. Once we have that perspective, we can stop worrying what people think about us, and start loving them, not out of our own strength, but out of His. With Him and only with Him we can shine the smart, thoughtful, or kind gifts He’s given us for the eternal purpose of giving Him glory.
Sometimes, people say I’m quiet. People say lots of things. Sometimes I take myself too seriously. I wonder what they really think, if they say what they really think. But we weren’t meant to gorge ourselves with anxiety over what might be going on in the minds of others—we were made to live, to love, to care. So rest in God’s love with me, dig deep in His Word and in prayer with me to find the peace that comes from throwing all that you are at His feet—every sin, every fear, every dream. Let us destroy Satan’s lie that whispers that people’s opinions matter more than our Heavenly Father’s decision to call us His beloved children. It’s an everyday battle, and every single day I fail. But know this: every day He wins, and every day He draws me closer, deeper, and more amazed at who He is.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us… But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:3-5, 8
(And, ironically, I have been too afraid to post this for a year or so. Yes, afraid of what you would think. God is gently working in me. He is faithful!)