You are all together beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 4:7
I was a people person.
I loved to talk to people and find out who they were, what they thought, how they felt.
I loved to serve people when I could. I looked for those opportunities.
I was an empath. I felt deeply. Sometimes, too deeply.
As much as I loved people, I found myself pulling back lately.
After a few too many hurts, my heart couldn’t take it anymore.
I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I felt ‘not enough’.
And I was unhappy.
Unhappy because people surprised me, and let me down.
I was a mess.
It was a long winter of heartache and self-reflection.
It was a long winter of attempting to determine what was wrong, and how to fix it.
I spent time in tears, and time in prayer.
I asked God to fix what was wrong with me, to let people see my heart; to open their eyes to who I really was, not who they thought I was.
In this downward spiral, I questioned everything.
What I said. What I did. What I felt.
I am a positive, faithful person who always saw the beauty in the disaster, but here I was; struggling to find it.
I was a strong person, whose identity was in Christ. I didn’t care about what other people thought of me; but here I was; questioning my every move and word.
What was going on?
So much seemed to hit me at once. Maybe the devil was swinging at me. Maybe I took my eyes off God just long enough to let fear and doubt creep into the crevices of my heart.
Whatever it was, I had to snap out of it. I prayed hard and dug deep into the Bible.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be
discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
I had to let go of the hurt, the fear, and the doubt.
I had no control over the actions of others, or what they thought about me.
I only had control over my own actions, and my reaction to others.
God called me to turn the other cheek, to pray for those who hurt me, to pray for my enemies.
It wasn’t easy, but it did bring peace.
Swallowing my pride and letting go of the transgressions of others was hard, but exactly what God called me to do.
Only then would peace reside in my heart, and joy in my soul again.
I wanted to let go of the hurt and find myself again. I knew my purpose on this earth was to spread His message and to help others see the beauty in this life, even when it was hard.
This past winter, I asked God to show me how to do that again.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
I had to let go of all things that stole my joy, burdened my heart, and kept me from feeling like myself. I had too much to do to get bogged down in all that ‘stuff’.
I believed that perspective changed everything, that the way I looked at things determined my reaction, that my mindset could make or break a situation.
Dealing with the trials of my life, I learned this over and over again.
I had become skilled in flipping the switch.
I needed to flip the switch.
When I was young, I was afraid of my own shadow, and barely said a word. I was afraid to express my own opinion, and did whatever others wanted.
As I got older, I became more confident and self-aware. As an adult, interacting with the world in personal and professional circles, confrontation was unavoidable. Still, I did my best to avoid it. I never looked for it, but I handled it when necessary. I stood up for myself and others, and for what I believed. I had a sense of self, and was firmly rooted in my faith. I learned that my opinion mattered as much as someone else’s opinion, and I resolved to be true to myself, even when it was hard.
Even so, somewhere along the way, I lost a piece of myself.
People didn’t always treat me kindly. When I tried to do things for others, there was always a problem with the way I did it, how I did it, or why I did it. I gave and gave, but it was never enough. It seemed that no matter what I did, no matter how good my intentions, no matter how well I treated people; I ended up on the losing end.
My heart barely had time to heal from one assault before another one came. I pulled back from people. I was hesitant to put myself out there, or to extend a hand to someone in need. I retreated because the smaller I became, the smaller the chance of getting hurt.
I wanted nothing but peace.
Keeping to myself was the only way to bring peace.
But that kind of peace didn’t make me happy. That kind of peace didn’t make me whole.
When I became smaller, my purpose became slighter.
When I became smaller, my message became whispered.
When I became smaller, my joy became diminished.
I didn’t want to deal with all that ‘stuff’ anymore, but I didn’t want to sacrifice who I was and what I wanted to do.
Life was too short.
I had to do what God called me to do.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I was not a quitter. My parents didn’t raise me to give up.
I was made to be a people person. I was made to serve others.
Only by being who God created me to be, and only by doing what God created me to do; could I ever be truly happy.
So, I thought about all those things that bothered me.
I prayed on them all, every one… and God helped me to flip that switch.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
I prayed for the strength to wade through the muck to get back to solid ground.
I would not let the actions of others dim my light.
I would not let anyone rob me of my joy.
I would not let this world burden my heart.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
If people talked about me, I let them talk.
I would no longer cry tears over unkind words. I would no longer allow my heart to break into a million pieces because of hurtful comments and misguided judgment. If they talked about me, I hoped they knew that God heard the words that passed from their lips. While it may have brought them the attention they craved, I prayed their lives became so full one day that my actions were no longer a second thought. If people spoke harshly of me, then let me rest in the assurance that others would judge me by my actions, and not by gossip; and if they didn’t, then let me be reminded that God knew my whole heart, and what they said, or believed didn’t matter.
If people walked by me without speaking, I let them keep walking.
No longer would I question what I did wrong. No longer would I allow their rude behavior to bruise my heart. I wondered if they knew I would have said, ‘hello’ if given a chance. I wondered if they realized they didn’t hurt me like they once did, and their actions showed who they were, and not who I was. My soul was clean.
If people acted as though I didn’t exist, I let them.
No longer would I long for their acceptance. No longer would I feel unworthy if I didn’t receive it. Failure to acknowledge me didn’t mean I wasn’t there, living the life I chose to live, living a life of joy and peace, living the life God planned for me. Maybe they couldn’t face that, because maybe they weren’t happy in their own walk. I prayed they would open their eyes to God and live the life He intended for them.
If people treated me unkindly, I turned the other cheek.
No longer would I take it personally. No longer would I believe I deserved poor treatment. When people acted without fairness or kindness, they were almost always struggling with something in their lives. Sometimes, those people needed to be shown kindness, so they could learn to show it themselves. That was what God called us to do. I would no longer look at these unfortunate events as an insult, but as an opportunity to show them the love of Jesus.
If I wanted to be who I truly was, I needed to protect my heart.
I had allowed the ways of this world to bruise and batter it for far too long.
When I stopped seeing these situations as personal assaults, but as opportunities for growth and service; I saw it all so differently.
I no longer saw offenders, but struggling souls.
I no longer felt like collateral damage, but a wounded soldier on the front lines.
I no longer felt weak, but strengthened by my Lord and Savior.
I no longer felt fearful of being hurt by people, but anxious to help people heal.
I no longer felt discouraged, but more determined to live out my purpose.
I was a people person. I was meant to feel, and I was meant to serve.
I bandaged my wounded heart, and rejoined the front lines.
Armed with God’s strength and guidance, I felt like me again.
Thank you, Lord.
I am prepared and ready for battle.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.