You are precious and honored in my sight, and… I love you. (Isaiah 43:4, NIV)
All it takes is an instant for me to forget my royal identity and start labeling myself with lies. Like the time I froze up over a spatula while hosting a baby shower. I’d opened the doors of our tiny rental house, keenly aware of the four-foot scrape on the linoleum floor, and other dings and dents left by previous tenants. The pressure of playing hostess to a bunch of southern belles who knew how to act at a baby shower (way better than I did) was stifling. That’s when it happened. Someone asked for my cake server. Knowing I didn’t have one in the wedding-gift stash, I rummaged around in the junk drawer for an alternative. When I finally produced a semi-melted, black plastic spatula, I saw what looked like disdain as the other ladies scrutinized it.
And that’s when I froze. My spirit crushed as I accessed my most painful memories of being bullied in junior high school. In an instant, I was that sixth grade girl, fearful, weak, a nobody. I harshly labeled myself:
“You don’t fit in.”
“You can’t do anything right.”
How God Sees Me
Elijah knew his unique identity in the Lord. But he also knew labels. A prophet of God, he had a special message. One filled with heart for God’s people. And yet, King Ahab, with all his royal clout, labeled Elijah in 1 Kings 18:17: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” Ouch.
I love how Elijah dealt with this, and the general dejection of running for his life:
- He took care of business – divine business. Read the story of Elijah praying for fire down from heaven in 1 Kings 18:21-39. It’s awesome.
- He got alone and took his heart to God. “I have had enough, LORD.” (1 Kings 19:4)
And what did God do? He provided for his needs. He fed him bread for the journey ahead.
So what can I learn from Elijah, who was human, just like I am? (James 5:17)
- When I feel unloved, I take my hurts to God. He holds my hand and collects my tears in a bottle. (Isaiah 42:6, Psalm 56:8)
- When I feel like nobody, I remember that I am precious and honored in God’s sight. (Isaiah 43:4)
- When I feel like I don’t fit in, I remember He has not rejected me. (Isaiah 41:9, 10)
Friend, take your hurts to God. He’ll give you bread, sustenance, for the journey.
One Small Step
What lies are your inner bullies telling you? Are you listening to and affirming them?
Prayerfully write down who you are in God. Post on your bathroom mirror, your phone background, and above your kitchen sink. Let these beautiful truths sink in as they become louder than the mind clutter bullies.
Kelli Pavlovec draws from her experience as a work from home mom to help smart moms get unstuck and find their best self at www.twohourmom.com. For a free worksheet on 7 Ways to Pursue Your Life Dreams, Even While You’re a Mom, click here.
It’s March 27, 2017
Due to an emergency, Kathi is unable to do her scheduled Facebook LIVE with the Clutter Free Bible Study group and asks if I’ll fill in.
“If you don’t have any areas of clutter struggle any more, ” she says as only the Queen of Positivity can, “maybe you can tell them about your past challenges.”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll think of something!” I assure her, glancing guiltily around my office.
During the Facebook LIVE, I show everyone my greatest clutter struggle: the many ways I preserve my ideas.
- A shelf lined with 2 inch binders labeled “Blog Post Ideas #1” … “Blog Post Ideas #2” … “Blog Post Ideas #3″…
- File boxes full of hanging file-folders stuffed with notes from in-process book proposals and retreat messages.
- Stacks of printed drafts (I live in terror of losing digital data, so I hav a printing compulsion) from the months when Kathi and I were writing Overwhelmed: 1st draft, 2nd draft, 10th draft.
- Notebooks from the various writing and speaking conferences I’d been to, dating back before 2010.
“They’re all so beautifully organized and labeled, Cheri!” someone comments.
“Aren’t they?” I agree.
“Which is exactly what has allowed me to justify keeping all this stuff. After all, if it’s color-coded, labeled, and organized in binders, certainly it’s not clutter…right?!?”
My sarcasm evokes laughter, and then we all fall silent in communal conviction.
Just because our stuff looks good does not mean we should keep it.
What Size is Your Plate?
In Overwhelmed, Kathi describes each person’s individual capacity in terms of “the size of your plate.”
Most women have dinner plates—an average capacity for activity and productivity.
A few have turkey platters and can accomplish 2-3 times as much as most people.
I, on the other hand, have a small plate. As a highly sensitive person, I am extra easily overwhelmed.
“Does all this stuff in my office match up with a small plate person?” I ask the Clutter Free Bible Study group members.
No way, they all agree.
All the binders and boxes and stacks match someone with a turkey platter.
A hard truth hits me, smack dab in the middle of Facebook LIVE:
Hanging onto so much stuff is a form of greed stemming from distrust.
Protecting my precious ideas is me saying, “God, I don’t trust you to remind me of what’s important.”
And ultimately, hoarding my ideas is my way of trying to stretch my plate.
I never wanted a small plate. I’ve always wanted a turkey platter. So I’ve surrounded myself with “evidence” that “proves” my preferred truth.
It’s my way of saying, “Look! I have all this! If I have so much, I must have a really big plate!”
Bottom line: I’m keeping an office full of stuff so that I can prove God wrong.
Learning to Trust God
After the Facebook LIVE I look around my office with new eyes.
I’ve worked so hard to protect all my precious ideas, but I have far too many to use.
I need to trust God to choose.
I need to believe that God will help me remember the ideas I need when the time comes. Or trust that He’ll give me something new.
Either way, it’s time to quit pretending I have a bigger plate than I do.
I need to accept the size of my plate and let most of this stuff go.
My stuff needs to match the truth about who God created me to be.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.
Are you afraid to make a move? Do you feel held back? Sometimes we can be the greatest force of holding ourselves back in life. But we can learn how to find confidence when our minds have already defeated us.
Listen in as Kathi interviews Lynn Cowell and they discuss the concepts in her new book, Make Your Move ~ Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears And Failures. Join in the conversation and be inspired to make your move from a place of paralyzing fear to an unshakable confidence in God’s promises.
**BONUS** Leave an answer in the comments section: “What would I be doing if I was not afraid?” and we will randomly pick three people in this next week to get a free copy of Lynn Cowell’s book.