I’ve heard it said a few times before that if you were to see yourself exactly as you are on the street, you wouldn’t recognize that it was you because your perception of who you are and what you look and act like is so skewed. How you see yourself when you look in a mirror is not how others see you. The qualities you see in yourself are nothing like what others see in you. Dove, the health and beauty product company, has a campaign which proves just that.
We all believe a lot of lies about ourselves. That I am not enough – I am not pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough, kind enough, good enough. That I am not loving – I am quick to anger and quick to notice flaws. That I’m bad at what I do. I see the best in others and compare myself to that. It’s so easy to see the flaws in ourselves, and we have this horrible tendency to magnify our own flaws when we tell ourselves who we are.
I’m a first year teacher, and it’s really really hard. Sure, it’s more work than I was expecting, but so far it’s been a totally different kind of hard than that. It’s emotionally draining to spend all day around kids, and I make it so much harder on myself.
I am not an amazing teacher yet. Nobody is their first year, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re surrounded by people who have been teaching for so long and who are amazing at it. Maybe I’m doing better than a lot of first year teachers, and maybe I actually am doing a terrible job. I definitely have a long list of mistakes I’ve made and can learn from. I am yet to give myself grace for those mistakes; instead, I sulk in the fact that I made a mistake at all.
That’s when I start to believe the most dangerous lie of all – that I need to be alone and I need to think through it on my own.
Our flaws are beautiful, and they give the Lord an opportunity to work in our lives, but they also open a door for the Enemy to creep into your thoughts. He’s the one who holds a magnifying glass to your flaws and convinces you that you are not enough because of them. He’s the one who convinces me that I need time alone away from people so I can sulk in my weakness. In those moments when I am beaten down, the Enemy convinces me to isolate myself, but the Lord makes me aware of my need for community. Sometimes you reach the point of tears and your roommate has to lovingly remind you, “You are not who that high school boy says you are,” after you’ve been dwelling on it all day. Sometimes you’re overwhelmed to the point of anxiety attacks and, at just the right time, you get to spend a weekend with 20 women who know you and love you and remind you that you are loved, you are enough, and you do have strengths. Sometimes you find a scrapbook that 30 of your friends made for you that constantly reminds you of how God’s grace has worked in your life. My roommate, those women, and my friends are all the people who see who I really am. The Enemy is hard at work in your mind convincing you to believe the lies that make you unrecognizable to yourself; good community sees who you really are and squashes the lies under their feet.