That’s me, in fifth grade, at honors day. The day marked the end of being in elementary school and the start of big, bad middle school. This photo is in my scrapbook from my school years, and I put it there. But this photo doesn’t hold a good memory of that day for me. In fact, it brings back a flood of emotion as I look at it. Not because of the white tights and white shoes worn in May, we’ll leave that alone for now. Or the incredibly large headband that can be seen from at least 20 feet away…because really?!
No, the reason why this photo is hard to look at and remember that time is because as I got to the end of that stage I burst into tears and ran to the bathroom. Moments before as my name was called for academic achievement award, the boy who was sitting in front of me at the assembly made a remark to me about how I looked and that it was only fitting I would get an academic honor since I was fat and ugly. This boy wasn’t a necessarily mean boy to me in the past, we weren’t exactly friends either…but he said it with such disgust and meanness that it stuck.
Twenty years later and those words still sting.
His words, however flippant a 12 year old is in what they say, stuck. They stuck so much that they formed my self-confidence in all things (or lack thereof to be honest) for the greatest part of my life. In fact, I still struggle moment by moment with self-confidence. I question relationships, friendships, projects, writing, and even who I am in Christ because of those words.
Why do I give them meaning? Why do I allow them to have context and power in my life?
This is what I have been praying and dwelling on the last few days as I face those words head-on. As I face that 12 year old boy sitting at the table in front of me.
No one has the right to tell you that you aren’t significant. NO ONE. God breathes truth into you that you are significant to Him. You matter to Him. Why then am I allowing, choosing even, to let someone else tell me different? When I give power to others, I am essentially telling God He’s not enough for me. His truth doesn’t fit with my belief and I shrug Him off. Even as I typed that, it looked ridiculous, because I would never say that to God…but I am when I let those words put context into my life, in my actions, in my heart.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.- Zephaniah 3:17