Guarded

While at the library Thursday, my daughter checked out a bunch of books. Since she forgot her library bag, the librarian gave her a plastic grocery bag to carry her books. As she was walking out of the library, the bag ripped, and her books fell all over the ground. She scrambled to pick them up, but since they were all different shapes and scattered, it was no easy task. Her brother went over to help her, but she quickly covered her books and said, “These are my books.”

“I know,” he said. “Would you like me to help you and carry some out to the car for you?”

Immediately her expression changed from anger to relief.

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Oh, what a perfect image of how I must be when people are trying to help me. I’m so overwhelmed by the problem at hand, that an act of help has me responding poorly.

For whatever reason I’m guarded. I’m prideful. I don’t even realize they’re trying to help.

My poor, poor husband. As I am typing this, I can recall so many instances where he offers me help, but I hover over my scattered books and say, “Leave me alone. I’ve got this.”

In my defense, no one likes being told your wrong. Even if that’s not exactly what is said, that’s how I internalize it.

Internalizing messages has been a major heart ache in my life. I learned from a young age to “read people,” but not based on their words. More like their emotions, facial expressions, and body language. Sadly, I thought there were two conversations being had. The one that was being spoken and the one that was meant.

It took me a long time to realize, most people say what they mean and mean what they say. You don’t have to read between the lines. But I still do it.

I still try to find the hidden message in what’s being said. And it causes my heart so much agony.

I suddenly think people don’t like me, when they barely engaged in conversation with me.  Now I am wondering what I did wrong, when maybe they just had a bad day, a headache, a problem, or lacked the time to actually talk to me.

When I’m running late, I start the negative talk wondering why I can’t ever be on time. When I say something dumb, I feel dumb. When someone makes a joke and it takes me a minute to get it, I feel stupid. If I make a Pinterest dinner flop, I think I’m a horrible cook. When I fail, I tell myself I am a failure.

It has taken me some time to realize that I internalize things because I place other people’s opinions higher than my own. I place other people’s opinions higher than God’s.

I need to see myself as God sees me. “Perfectly and wonderfully made.” I need to recognize the good work that He has started in me and know that He is faithful to carry it out to completion.

Yes, we are going to mess up, but we are not a mess. Yes, we will fail, that doesn’t mean we are failures.

We are daughters and sons of the God! Our creator! Our Lord. He cares for us. He knows us by name. He has a plan for our lives! Once we can wrap our heads around all that, we can begin to see ourselves as image bearers of God. After all that is the way God sees us. The good news is that we do not have to see ourselves that way before we can begin a relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ.

Let me take a bit of burden off of you for a moment and tell you something that maybe you haven’t heard before. Your worth and your identity is not in your marital status, family achievements, occupation, accomplishments, or any other worldly things. Your worth is in Christ! You were bought with a price. Christ paid that ransom. God loves you so much and he knows what you are worth and that is exactly why He was willing to die for you personally. As you go on with your life, I want to encourage you to remember that Jesus died once and for all. There is no need to stick Him back on the cross to die a second time. Once was enough.

Let down your guard. Accept help from those offering it. And look up. Thank God for what He has done in your life. Walk in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Embrace your identity in Christ!

“The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children. The reason the people in the world do not know us is that they have not known him.”  1 John 3:1