“Well, I feel encouraged and hope you do too.” he said while beginning to stand up…clearly indicating that the conversation was over and it was time for me to leave. Encouraged? Really? Nothing has been corrected. No changes are being put into place. No questions or sharing of ideas…just a bunch of catch phrases that make him sound like he was invested. I’m not even really sure that this two-person conversation required my presence because I certainly was not heard…we weren’t having a dialogue…I was just being…handled…like a problem to be dealt with…like a dreaded chore on a list that you have to muscle through in order to get to the more important things.
I hated that realization…that I was a problem to be handled as opposed to a member of a team…that unity meant “shut up and fall in line” instead of different people bringing different ideas and gifts to the table to accomplish something greater than the sum of our talents. To this man, unity meant uniformity. There was a lack of investment in the present and a lack of value in the people on the team. And that insight into his heart space as the team leader was the beginning of me leaving the team altogether…I just wouldn’t know it for almost a year.
Why am I talking about this weird conversation? Well, I guess it’s because it hurt so much despite the other person involved in the conversation thinking it went fabulously well. I used to think that someone being intentionally mean was the worst thing they could do…but I have since learned that being dismissed as unimportant or as a problem is worse (at least to me.) If someone is intentionally mean, I can chalk it up to their character or lashing out because of circumstances. But when I find that I am just invisible…or worse…someone that must be handled…that plants seeds of doubt into me about my value…about my contribution…about why I am here…or maybe it’s just me that struggles in this way?
I know in my head that my value is determined by my Creator and not by anything that I can do or accomplish…but sometimes my heart doesn’t listen to my head…especially in this area. My head and heart jive in a lot of ways…but my worth…it’s been a constant struggle for me for a long, long time. A few weeks ago, though, I tried a new tact for getting my head space and heart space in agreement. Instead of coming up with all the ways that I define myself like I usually would do to bolster my confidence, I spent an entire day (from breakfast until bedtime) asking God who he says I am. Instead of yelling at the Creator the things the creation wants to be…I shut my mouth and let the Creator tell me what aspects of himself he lovingly graced me with. And it was the best day ever. Instead of telling him that I’m tough, that I easily adapt, that I’m outgoing, etcetera…I listened to him tell me how I reflect him. I found out that day that I love with a pure and BIG love because I have been loved deeply…even in my most broken places. I found out that I am a forgiver because I have been forgiven of hurts that I have caused. I found out that I was purposely created, and because of that, I can create with a purpose. These things are the essence of who I am regardless of my circumstances. This is how I am an image-bearer of the Almighty…he put some of his essence…some of who he is…into the mix when he created me…and that takes investment…effort. He didn’t just handle me.
How are you doing with this? Do you sometimes feel like you are invisible or that your value is lacking? If so, have you talked to God about it? Have you let him do some of the talking in your conversation or have you been super busy talking at him about who you say you are? Are there people in your sphere of influence who struggle with their self-worth? Could you improve how you interact with them in order to make sure that they know that you value them? Are there vulnerable areas in yourself that you could reveal to them in order to help open their hearts up to a deeper and more healing conversation? In what ways could you be approaching yourself and/or others with tenderness and truth about who God would say you/they are?
My prayer today is that we would not be afraid to ask God for the truth and that we would be quiet in his presence so that we can actually hear his whisper. I am praying that we would value each other and be present with each other instead of handling each other. And finally, I am praying that we would love well and, in doing so, would reflect God’s love to the hurting people around us.
Much love friends,