Recently I was driving home from a Bible study praising God for the wonderful sunset and friends and women He has brought into my life, when out of the blue a thought struck me: What if that joke I told was actually offensive?
Suddenly the beautiful sunset I was admiring seemed far away and irrelevant. I could feel that familiar knot of shame growing in my chest. My stomach felt queasy as my nervous feelings rose. My drama scale went from zero to sixty in the time it takes to have one thought – just one thought. Suddenly, I stood at the edge of that familiar cycle of regret and embarrassment.
Three years ago I would have stood on that edge and taken a swan dive into the torturous thoughts that were waiting for me. “You’re so stupid.” “You’re inconsiderate.” “Why can’t you be more like your mentor?” “You always get carried away and say the wrong thing.” “If you’d just shut up, then you wouldn’t have this problem.”
This self-deprecation was inevitably followed by attempts to read minds. “What did she think when I said that? What if she thinks I’m inconsiderate? What if she doesn’t want to be my friend now and doesn’t even tell me what I did? Was there any indication she was angry? How can I make it up to her next time I see her?”
That cliff is debilitating. These days, I recognize the edge of that cliff much more readily. Sometimes I see it coming and prepare; other times I have to pull myself back up by my fingertips.
I recognize this pattern in my life as codependency – needing others to think well of me in order to think well of myself. Others recognize it as a pattern of control or people pleasing. However you define it, it sucks. I mean, it literally sucks the life out of you, the joy out of you, and the love out of you.
Over and over it had been the devil’s weapon of choice in my life. Today though, not so much. I recognize the flaw in that thinking and the damage it has done to my freedom. Thoughts of others’ opinions had kept me caged; I was terrified to say the wrong thing. Looking back I realize I was more terrified of my shame and embarrassment than anyone else’s pain or discomfort.
Galatians 1:10 “For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.”
It may sound simple to you, but it was a big turning point in my life when I recognized that I was letting others’ opinions shape my life and haunt my thoughts. That’s when I finally decided they didn’t have to have that power over me.
The Lord gave me a vision around this time. He was standing tall above the Earth radiating perfect love. And all the people on earth were walking around blind bumping into each other and shoving each other.
This was His way of showing me that only He sees our actions clearly. Every person here on earth will see me (and the world) through their own broken perspective and history of hurts. His opinion is the only one that truly matters.
Mark 8:36 “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
No matter what bad choice of words I make, the Lord sees me as His child. He will continue to love me as a parent despite my mistakes. The only eyes through which I should try to see myself are the Lord’s. It is none of my business what other people think of me. It is a waste of time and energy, anyway, because their opinion is flawed.
The Lord knows my heart because He created it Himself. His view of me is true. Ultimately, my relationship with Him is worth 10 million human relationships. And, in that counter-intuitive way the Lord uses so frequently, I find I naturally come into closer relationships with people around me as I seek to be in closer relationship to God.
Luke 12:31 “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you.”
Draw closer to the Lord (your Abba) and remember who you are in His eyes. For that is how you will see your true value and find your peaceful confidence.
|Ginny Priz is a Christian coach, writer and speaker. Ginny has overcome her own drama with a prosthetic arm, alcohol, panic disorder, and codependency. She has a passion for guiding others toward the same peace and freedom she has come to experience. Ditching drama is possible for anyone “armed” with God and the Serenity Prayer! It’s never too late to start your own Serenity Journey.|