This post first appeared on September 12, 2016
“You’re not likable.” My supervisor’s words sliced through my heart like a hot knife. They amplified my greatest fear, rejection.
I have spent most of my life trying to be who others think I should be so they will like me. It is a painful and exhausting way to live. And it is not the way God intends us to live life.
Words are powerful. They have the power to give life and encouragement or like the words uttered by my supervisor so many years ago, the power to crush and wound.
My supervisor made that statement to me during an annual review. He indicated that none of my co-workers liked me. He then suggested a book I should read that would help me be more likable. I kept my composure until I was alone, and then the tears flowed freely.
The tape of those words played over and over again in my mind not only then but for many years after. I’m sure that supervisor didn’t realize the damage his words caused. His motive was probably to cause me to be a better version of who he thought I should be.
However, what they did was reinforce my belief that I was not likable or lovable. And the belief I had to fix what was wrong with me, whatever that might be so that others would like me. I believed the lie that if I never said no and did everything others asked of me perfectly, then they would like me.
Not only are the words others speak to us powerful, so are the words we speak to ourselves.
Several years ago when God placed a dream in my heart to write, I spoke negative words to myself that resulted in it taking years longer to pursue that dream than it should have. Words like; you’re too old, you don’t know how to write, you’re not a good writer, you don’t have anything to say that others will want to read, your not likable so why would anyone like your writing.
God tells me a different story in His Word. He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (read Psalm 139:13-18). He tells me that He created me intentionally and on purpose. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 NLT. I have to trust Him. Trust that He created me the way He wanted me to be. His unique child with a personality that has strengths and challenges.
The Journey To Becoming Me
The past few years God has been leading me on a journey to become myself. A journey that is about progress, not perfection. A journey that will not end this side of heaven.
I’m learning to get unstuck from my past and allow the painful events to teach me to tell myself the truth. I realized that the truth behind the remarks of that long ago supervisor was that he didn’t like me, and possibly some of my co-workers shared the same feelings. But that is OK because not everyone will like me when I am true to who He created me to be.
I am also telling myself the truth that it is never too late to dream a new dream.
“You are never too old to set another goal or dream or dream another dream.” C. S. Lewis
What Else I Am Learning
I have learned that I am penned in His image, and I have a story. A story He authored and wants me to share.
I have learned that there is nothing I can do to earn His love and nothing I can do to cause Him to love me less. So now, this hot mess of a recovering perfectionistic people pleaser is living for the applause of nail-scarred hands, and so I write.
I also know this truth, if you are reading this you have had painful experiences in your life as well. But they do not have to define you. You can be who He created you to be. So I invite you to join me on this journey of becoming ourselves, of being who He created us to be. Let’s travel together one grace step at a time.
What painful experience have you been allowing to define your life? Where do you feel stuck? How is God showing you how to become yourself?