A friend of mine recently reminded me that we can’t base what we know on what we feel. Our feelings are inconsistent and dependent on our surroundings - and God knows that. God’s love and presence are independent of our feelings. Faith is what we have in spite of our feelings.
I remember crying myself to sleep in high school because of a joke some boy I barely even knew had made about my weight. I was about seventeen at the time, but my struggle with the way I looked had begun much before that. I had always been a “normal-sized girl” growing up, until I hit puberty. That, plus all the junk food I consumed when I went away to boarding school, caused me to put on a lot of weight. It wasn’t until people began to notice that I realized what a large part of my identity was formed around the way I looked and even more so around the way that people saw me.
I have two siblings, and one statement I think I can fairly confidently make is that siblings are far too often compared and contrasted to each other. “Oh, they’re the funny one,” they say, or “They’re the shy one,” the list goes on and on.
For as long as I can remember, my biggest insecurity has been my quiet personality. I’m not overly talkative, I’m not super outgoing, and I’m not the life of the party by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t get me wrong - I love to have fun. And the friends who know me well have plenty of stories. But I remember coming away from so many parties and get togethers beating myself up for not saying enough. I felt like I had nothing to offer in group situations and wondered if people really wanted me there.
One of my good friends and I decided we were going to change the meaning of New Year’s resolutions for ourselves. We decided to do one thing every day that scares us. We realized that we were letting fear control our life choices - fear of what others think, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Do I take a chance at failing and do this thing in front of me, or do I ignore it and go on with my life? This is much like Jonah’s situation.
People may not have been happy, but I felt freedom in knowing that my Savior was. Living a life modeled after Christ isn’t the norm. It takes strength and courage to stand up against the strong cultural current. And people aren’t going to like it.
The old phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is one of the biggest lies to ever penetrate our society. The wounds from the words of others have left a far more lasting impression upon my heart than the physical wounds I have received.
Believe it or not, negative self talk is a form of conceit. We think that we’re the center of attention and that everyone is watching us.
How we choose to present ourselves matters. Who your friends are. How you talk. What you post on social media. How you dress. All these things show people something about you. Perhaps it will be all of you they ever see.
It was then I asked the question: where is God? I knew Him my entire life, I knew He was good, I knew He had my back, but I couldn’t feel him. I didn’t feel fulfilled. Even after reading every cliche quote about who you are, nothing made me feel significant enough.