Thanks to a delicious dark chocolate espresso candy that I foolishly ate late in the afternoon, I couldn’t sleep the other day. I decided to cozy up with a book my friend gave me. With a title like Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, I knew there would be content that resonated with me. What I didn’t realize was that, by the middle of the first chapter, I’d be sobbing. I’m not talking about a clichéd single tear grazing my cheek. I’m talking heaving, The Joy Luck Club, This is Us, and The Passion of the Christ ugly-cry sobbing. In chapter one!
Copyright: elwynn / 123RF Stock Photo
This excerpt from author Lysa TerKeurst really hit me:
Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me. Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God. We connect an event from today to something harsh someone once said. That person’s line becomes a label. That label becomes a lie. And the lie becomes a liability in how we think about ourselves and interact in every future relationship.
For me, that thought process began with a line from my mother. After I expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with my stepfather, she pierced me with the words, “Don’t make me choose, because you’ll lose.” This led to the following label: I’m not important, I don’t matter, and others will always come before me. The label then turned into a lie: I’m not good enough, and I need to earn acceptance and love.
Each time my parents put their desires, spouses, or other children before me, it reinforced the tape playing over and over in my head. I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy. I don’t matter.
Sometimes the Enemy whispers these lies. Sometimes he yells. Either way, I’ve heard him so many times that, when push comes to shove, that’s what I believe.
I work hard to combat those feelings—literally. I work hard and long to try and earn acceptance and approval. I was like that as a teacher. I’m like that now as a nonprofit professional. I have horrible work-life boundaries. I strive to be the best at whatever I do. I want people to tell me I’m a rock star. I look for pats on the back. The quantity and quality of work I pump out is off the charts. I’m so bad at not working that, for the past two years, one of my professional growth goals has been not to work more than ten hours a day.
Lysa TerKeurst’s book asks how we can live as if we are loved when we feel less than, left out, and lonely. I’ve been asking myself that same question for years. I know that if I really believed I was loved, my thoughts, words, and actions would be different. If I really believed I was loved, my perceptions about people, our interactions, and even non-interactions would come from a secure identity in Christ.
But I don’t believe that. Not really. I know God says he loves me, and once in a while I believe it. To be honest, hearing I’m loved is such a new concept to me that my mind still defaults to thinking I’m not good enough and I’m not worthy of love. If I’m tired, stressed, or not centered on God, that’s where my mind automatically goes.
I know it’s a lie and still I choose to believe the lies. This is a big stronghold in my life. When I’m cognizant of what I’m doing, I try to take those thoughts captive and ask God to replace them with his truths. But most of the time I am too busy to take the time to reflect and be aware of what God is trying to say to me.
As I started thinking about what I wanted to give up for Lent this year, a crazy idea came to mind: What if I gave up work? I don’t mean quitting my job, but what if I gave up working so much? What if instead of trying to earn approval and worthiness through excessive work, I did as much as I could in a normal-person amount of time? What if I didn’t get back to people immediately? What if I gave myself a week to complete a project instead of one day? What if I didn’t spend so much time formatting, adding color, and making everything visually appealing?
I knew that if I gave up working ten- to thirteen-hour days, I would need to take up something beneficial instead of spending more time on social media or watching TV. And I don’t need to add more things to my to-do list.
What I really need to do is slow down, be still, and stop doing. I need to stop trying to make myself feel worthy. I need to spend time being still and actually listening to God. I need to let God’s truths about who he is and who I am fill me. I need to listen to those truths more than I listen to the enemy’s lies. I need to repeat God’s truths over and over again so that when I’m tired or stressed, my first response, my natural instinct, is to listen to God.
Lorianne Lee was a teacher for nineteen years, and she has been a part of The River Church Community for seventeen years. Lorianne is a creature of habit. She doesn’t like surprises or change. In fact, she admits it bothers her if someone sits in “her spot” at church. Lorianne appreciates God’s sense of humor, and she finds it ironic that God is changing her in so many ways. Lorianne wants to be open to whatever God has planned, even if that includes change.