When People Want to Tell You Who You Are
I got a nasty-gram last week. She said that I’m spoiled. Indulged. Ungrateful. Whiny. A bad example. And unchristian.
The truth is that I can be all those things on occasion. Can’t you? (If think you’re never any of those things ever, you might want to unsubscribe from my blog today. We’re going to keep it real here.)
I’m not defined by those flaws, though. They aren’t the predominate markers of my character, but that’s only because of Jesus. Without Him and Holy Spirit who lives in me, I’d sink to all the lowest denominators. I’m sure of it.
But because of Jesus, those names don’t stick to me. In fact, I was able to laugh at such a caricature and also to have an achy heart for the hurt of the person who would write such things to me.
How have I gotten to that place? You might want to know since we all deal with nasty-grams in some form, and they aren’t fun.
First, I have compassion on the person that called me those names because I’ve done the same thing to others. I’m not bold enough to write them in a comment, but I sure have thought them. Based on my own flawed perceptions, I’ve labeled others with my own list of negatives. A series of events in the last few weeks have reminded me to remember that there are tender hearts on the other side of conflict. My perceptions don’t always reflect the whole story, so labels and names have no place.
Second, I’m learning to remind myself of the names that God calls me so that the way others define me doesn’t touch me.
I’ve been reflecting on this particularly in the sense of calling. What if my calling is questioned by others? What if the work of my calling is actually stripped away by circumstances? What does that mean for me?
I thought about Paul who constantly started his letters to the churches with a statement of his calling:
Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…
I Cor. 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”
II Cor. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”
Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead”
Ephes. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Look what he did there! Called them by their name too!)
Over and over again, Paul restated his calling. Check out all his letters. They almost all start this way. Why?
I definitely think it was a reminder to the church, but could it be that Paul was reminding himself too? Had people attacked him and questioned his calling?
We know they had! In II Corinthians 10:10, Paul said, “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'” Whew. Sounds like Paul received a nasty-gram or two himself, and the whole chapter sounds like a defense of his calling.
Let’s do what Paul did. Instead of being crushed under the weight of the words of those who misunderstand us or want to purposefully discourage us, let’s remind ourselves of this truth over and over:
[Tweet “God Himself holds our calling. Not people. Not circumstances.”]
Today, if you’re overcome by unearned criticism, the negative commentary of naysayers, or circumstances that aren’t going your way, put your trust in God’s hands and repeat like Paul repeated, “I __(insert your name here)__, am called to __(insert your calling)__.!”
I want y’all to know that I read every comment, and you are each precious to me for leaving it. Although there are too many to reply to them all, I pray over them as I read. You are loved!
Congratulations to Tammy (6.10.16 7:22 am)! You are the winner of a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect from your comment left last week.
I’m sorry I said those things about you. And I can’t believe I forgot “snarky”…
Your all-that-and-much-much-more brother,
So incredibly powerful! I love this. Thank you so much for this reminder.
Thanks Amy! This is a great example of how a Christian should react when people are mean! I will try to remember these points- perspective and perfection in God. 🙂
This post was such a good reminder for me not to forget whom I am in Christ! Thank you for that. “I am a servent of Jesus Christ, called to obedience under His leading and faithfulness in prayer. I am set free, anointed and appointed and profoundly equipped to be used for His glory!
Thank you for sharing with such transparency + authenticity. Your words were such an encouragement to my weary self today. I cannot express how timely this was for me.
I love this! God’s timing is always perfect! I needed the reminder to believe what God says about me not what others say and also that is is God who has called my husband and I to ministry! He is the authority and determines what happens because we are HIS servants. HIS children! What a blessing! Thanks for your words of encouragement and I hope to be able to respond to the nasty gram as you have! I am a work in progress!
Being in ministry, especially as a couple, is always hard. So thankful I could be an encouragement as you two follow Jesus!
Thank you so much for this! This is so timely for me. As lately, I feel God has been trying to teach me about my identity in Him. I was a speaker/preacher/teacher at one time when I was younger. After speaking one night, a very highly respected minister stopped me as I left the podium and in front of everyone stopped me and said, “Well we see what Pride in the pulpit, looked like tonight! Sinful!” He said that as he looked at me with disdain and disgust! It devastated me! It broke me! That was over 20+ years ago. Since that time I have only ministered like that two or three times. And every time I do I feel the weight of that all over me and feel unsuccessful. I know God wants to use me to minister to women, but I have to be free of this! Thank you again for a timely word!
Rhonda, as a sister, can I just call that event what it truly was? Spiritual abuse. I recognize it because I have some similar experiences in my distant past (although not nearly that hateful). Even if that pastor had an issue with what you said or how you said it that night, he should have spoken to you gently, in love, and in private. Humiliating someone is NEVER what Jesus would do.
I’m incredibly sorry that happened to you, and I’m praying for your complete healing, release, and freedom. You’re not alone, and I’m standing in prayer with you.
Love your blog. Always so encouraging and uplifting. Just sent this one to a friend that was recently tortured by a very critical phone call. Although she is healing, your blog will certainly help speed up her recovery. Thank you.
So sweet for you to tell me, Jerri! I’m praying the healing of your friend’s heart right now.
Amy, I’ve noticed that those who display a mean spirit in describing others often use adjectives that describe themselves. Love how you turned this attack into a wonderful lesson of truth.
Yes–interesting. Thanks for your encouragement–sweet friend!
I so needed to read this today! I struggled for weeks with following a directive from God because I worried about what a group of people would think of me and how it would effect my ministry. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit loves me enough not to stop “nudging” and I had to do as God called. The outcome was better than I expected! Such a great lesson for me about trusting His plan in my calling – it belongs to Him, not me or anyone else! Thank you Amy!
I’ve walked through a few things like what you described lately too, Joan. Isn’t it amazing how God builds our faith when we press through the hard places? I don’t know why I’m shocked when He shows up like He always does! I’m still growing in that area.
Thanks Amy! I so needed this encouragement today.
Thank you for this reminder. I’ve needed it for several weeks. All the little things have been piling up into a huge mountain that is so easily removed just by choosing to believe I AM WHO CHRIST SAYS I AM!
It brings me joy to know the post encouraged you today!