Her greatest fear was rejection. And when ugly words came from her church family, the hurt was greater because her expectation of them was higher. Ugly words from others were like stones, chipping away at her confidence one syllable at a time. She worked very hard to avoid them, sometimes pleasing others at the cost of her own self-respect.
For reasons she could not articulate, words of rejection carried tremendous power in her life. Too much power. Knowing her weakness, the enemy of her soul often tempted her to replay those messages, creating a rut in her mind. These unwelcomed reruns settled shame a little deeper in her soul, solidifying the lies.
She was frustrated because of the power those words had over her. As much as she summed every ounce of sheer grit to try to rise above those words, like an unforgiving rip current, they continued to pull her under. She knew better but she was not free. And she was bitter.
Her pace quickened along with her frustration as she continued to move forward along the shore with her heels sinking deeper as anger grew. How could they say those things, God? How could this happen? These were not my enemies—these were trusted friends. And then she grabbed a stone on the shore. Imagining those people before her, she hurled it into the ocean, wanting others to feel the pain as she did. In desperation she cried out to God, “I am tired of this controlling me!”
The Lord rushed to her side and held her close with his presence.
My grace is more powerful than your grit. Take your efforts to resist what others say, defending yourself and hating them . . . and redirect that energy to press into my presence and walk out your purpose. Release others through forgiveness. You don’t need their acceptance, so release your desire for it. Information is not transformation because what you believe in your heart is stronger than what you know in your head. Revealed truth written on your heart through the Holy Spirit as you spend time in my Word creates change. Receive my words by applying faith to them. My words will become the loudest in your life because what you pay attention to grows.
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. – 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
Yes, treasured one, you are treasured by God. But often the words others say, our self-deprecating thoughts or labels from the world about women, clamor for our attention, drawing our hearts away from our authentic core identity. And if we are externally referenced, meaning we use outside sources to measure our value, the outcome is inevitable: words from others will create shame and hinder our purpose to shine.
All of us were born with this resounding question in our hearts: Do I measure up? And to prove our worth, we grab measuring sticks—standards we use to measure ourselves and ultimately to shut out the shame we feel. It could be religious standards, money standards, our address standards, our family standards. But if our measuring stick is what other people think and say about us, no matter how much we study God’s Word, no matter how much grit we use to remain confident, no matter how hard we try to rise above those words—they will carry unnecessary power in our lives and put us in the prison of bitterness.
I know this because I have been there, and today I still have to be diligent to guard my heart. Here is what I learned: I will live what I believe deep in my soul. Turning to Jesus to tune in his words and releasing the words of others gives me the freedom to live an authentic faith-filled life.
You CAN change from being externally referenced to becoming internally referenced by relying on the Holy Spirit. Instead of reacting to words from others in retaliation, retreat to find words of TRUTH for your response—and rise. Let Jesus’s words over you be the loudest in your life. Pause from the hustle to pray. Seek Jesus in the still of the morning and watch the Holy Spirit write his words on your heart in such a way you will forget those false labels God NEVER intended you to wear.
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. – 1 Peter 1:24–25 NIV
Jesus’s words bring freedom from shame and the power to shine as all other words fall at his feet. Trading external referencing for God’s enduring Word brings freedom. You are who God says you are. Forgive imperfect people and trust God’s perfect love instead so you can love others with his kind of love. Sincere love for others stems from shedding shame by trading external referencing for God’s enduring Word. Redirect your grit and give it all to pressing into the presence of Jesus.
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, andthe one who trusts in him will never be put to shame. – 1 Peter 2:6 NIV, emphasis mine
Treasured one, be determined today to redirect your grit from throwing stones back in retaliation to retreating and relying solely on the enduring words from our Cornerstone instead. Be a part of God’s solution to shame by receiving and giving his love.