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Posts Tagged ‘opinions of others’

Have you ever had the experience of seeing something on display in a shop that you want so much you simply have to buy it?  It’s happened to me only a few times, but fortunately, in each of these cases, the particular item has turned out to be relatively inexpensive.

Take, for example, a greeting card I saw in a gift shop over fifteen years ago now.  I was with my sister and both of us groaned out loud as we identified with the words printed in bold, black brushstrokes on the front.

She who trims herself to suit everybody will soon whittle herself away.

For me, it was one of those moments when you are brought face to face with issues inside you in a way that is impossible to ignore.  I was at a time in my life when I was feeling pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions, when I was trying to meet people’s expectations on every side (or was it my own?) but losing myself in the process.  I was aware there were things deep down inside me causing me much frustration and angst, but somehow could not find the courage to speak out.  Yet, in a split second, this simple card opened my eyes to what was happening inside me and around me and empowered me to begin to approach things in a different way.

For years, I had the card on display in my workplace and later at home, but today I moved it into my new study where I can see it from my desk.  And as I did, I reflected on those words again.  They still impact me – but God has done a transforming work in me and I have definitely moved on.  Now, by God’s grace, I believe I am much more secure in who I am and much less dependent on the opinions of others.  Not that I ignore others’ needs and selfishly go through life ‘looking after Number One’ – after all, Paul warns us clearly in Philippians 2:3-4 that that isn’t the way to live:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

But that doesn’t mean trying to please everyone and fit in with what they believe or how they want us to act, at the expense of our own integrity and wellbeing.  I think now at this stage of my life, I understand much more clearly that it’s as I look to God to tell me who I am and am constantly filled with God’s Spirit that I am best able to reach out from this place of strength and truly encourage others.

So how about you?  Feeling a bit fragile – as if there’s not much left of you?  Remember, God is the one who gives you strength.  God is the one who tells you who you are.

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