Principle #3: Trust God to tell you the truth, and believe Him—only He knows who you really are.
Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:16: The Spirit *Himself* testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Childhood is that crucible in which we spend the rest of our lives trying to climb back out, at least to some degree. I am happy to say that God is the one who led the way, despite many obstacles, one of which I will relate to you now.
I was told I was stupid more than once as a young person. The words were spoken in frustration by those closest to me. They didn’t intend to hurt me by their words, but they did. It happened usually in situations where these people needed me to do something and were trying (unsuccessfully) to explain what it is they needed me to do, and how to do it. If eventually I figured out how to do the thing on my own, my accusers would assume someone else in the room figured it out for me, and said as much.
I internalized their words and believed that I was, indeed, stupid. I was quietly resentful towards them, and developed deep insecurities. I had no confidence, but I kept my nose in the air and hid behind arrogance. I was terrified to try new things. I didn’t want to appear ‘stupid’ in front of my peers, so I feigned disinterest. I did not want people to see me make mistakes, so I avoided unfamiliar activities. I didn’t think I was smart enough to achieve A’s in certain subjects, so I contented myself with C’s. (But I spoke over my peers, using big words and adult language, so that they would think I was a straight A student.) I never wanted to appear as though I didn’t know everything about everything, so I blathered on in conversations regardless of my knowledge level. (i.e. Better to stay silent and be thought a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt!)
At this same time, God was revealing himself to me. I grew up in a non-Christian home, but through a series of supernatural events I began to think that God was real, and I read the scriptures (though not understanding very much) and I would talk to Him. God healed a close relative after I prayed during my adolescence. These events were the beginning of a lifelong nature walk in which Jesus was both my tour guide and interpreter.
For instance, an incident in grade 12 was Jesus’ first interpretative session in my life. Mr. McDowell was my Biology 122 teacher, a man enthusiastic about science and eager to share it with his students. On the first day of school, he separated the class into groups of two, put a large bowl of peanuts (in their shells) in the center of the room and told one person from every couple to choose a peanut. He told them to study the peanut carefully, apart from their partner, and describe it on paper. Then, they returned the peanuts to the bowl and mixed them up. Each writer’s partner was told to read the written description and find the peanut on their own.
What Mr. McDowell said to the searchers shocked me. He said, “If you can’t find the peanut, it isn’t your fault. It’s your partner’s fault, for not describing the peanut properly.”
This object lesson portrayed the fundamental scientific principle of reporting accurate observations. But Mr. McDowell will never know what a teaching tool his experiment was apart from biology. You see, I was gratified that my partner was one of the few who found the right peanut because of my description.
God spoke two things to me through that incident: One, that I am not stupid for failing to figure out what people want—quite often it is their own inability to explain themselves clearly. Two, it gave me confidence that if nothing else, I have the ability to communicate ideas, and to a person who thinks herself an idiot, that’s quite a revelation.
This incident did not spell the end of my battle with insecurity; rather, it was the first milestone to which God referred me back as the years have gone by. Satan whispers in our ear, reinterpreting and magnifying the hurtful words of others, words they may not realize are hurtful.
But God speaks in the other ear. He says, “I am the truth. And if I am the truth, then you should only absorb what I say about you. Now, to whose voice will you listen?” It is up to us to choose.
The first hurdle, to only trust God’s words, is an inward battle. The second hurdle is focussed outward, because it has consequences for those around us. Can you reject the negative spoken words or actions of others without rejecting the person? Can you let God give you the ability to hold the words and actions of others objectively? Can you let Christ’s love be the buffer between you and their hurtful remarks or actions? This is the level at which God wants us to operate, the place of complete confidence and contentment in the love of God; the knowledge that the self-awareness for which others strive, He has already provided. He wants others to recognize the profound change in our reactions and behaviour, so that they will ask us, “What’s happened to you? You’re so different than you used to be!”