“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” Proverbs 29:25
Of the many pieces of sage advice from the Proverbs today, this is the one that stood out to me the most. Perhaps because its the one I struggle with the most. I have always had a “fear of man”. No, not a fear of men, but I’ve been afraid of people; what they would think of me, what they say about me, how they feel about me. I’ve always been obsessed with wanting people to like me. To the point that I’ve gotten many a bad case of the stripes.
We’ve had this book in our home library for many years and I’ve always thought it was a cute story with a good message until I read it to Anna and realized “THIS IS ME!!!”
The story is about Camilla, a little girl who loves lima beans. But she’s afraid that the other kids will make fun of her for liking them, so she denies herself the pleasure of eating them. Then one morning she wakes up with these stripes all over her body. She has no fever and feels fine so she goes to school. At the pledge of allegiance her stripes turn red, white and blue with stars. Then the kids start yelling out for her to do plaid and polka dots and before she knows it every part of her is covered with a different color, shape or pattern. She sees the doctors, they give her medicine, she turns into a pill. She sees the herbalists, she starts growing leaves and roots on top of her pill shaped stripes. With every expert she sees she turns into something else until she becomes completely unrecognizable.
I had become that girl. If someone said “will you do this?” Even if I didn’t have time I would say “sure” because I didn’t want to upset them or make them not like me. I became everything everyone wanted me to be… except me. I had my arms so full of what I thought everyone else wanted me to do that I had lost sight of what God had asked me to do: write through the Bible in a year and take care of my family.
I’ve spent my entire life being who I thought everyone else wanted me to be and doing what everyone else wanted me to do that I never figured out who I was.
Who I am.
The last few years and especially the last few months have been a roller coaster ride of figuring that out. It’s been like a dog going through a cat door. It’s possible, but it takes a lot of work and the dog certainly can’t take anything with him from one side of the door to the other. It’s just him.
This has been a season of laying things down and doing my best to leave them where they lay. I’m learning that it’s critical to my development to learn the word, “No” and to use it liberally when people ask me for something. I have spent my entire life allowing people to take advantage of me. You know what God told me? “Grow a backbone. How will you ever be able to stand up and defend Me and My word if you can’t stand up for yourself?”
The example he used was a teenager at the Kroger deli-counter. I was there late one Tuesday evening after my Greek class picking up groceries. God had led me to fast all day. I went to the deli counter and asked him what was good. He said this certain brand of turkey and I said, “give me two pounds.” But then he insisted I try it first. I was fasting, I didn’t want to try it. So I told him I trusted his opinion and go ahead and give me two pounds. He pressed and I caved and took a bite. It was the best thing I’d had all day! 😉 Here I was, a grown woman and I couldn’t even tell this high school deli-worker, “no”.
I’ve been a pushover for far too long! It ends today! I am claiming my identity in Christ and holding fast to it! This is my faith and Jesus is my Savior. He tells me I’m beautiful and the TV tells me I’m not. I’m choosing to believe Jesus. He tells me I’m precious to Him and people may cast me aside like garbage but I’m choosing to believe Jesus. His opinion of me matters far more than anyone else’s so why do I listen to anyone else?