Earlier this week I was on a walk with a dear friend who opened up about hurt she had felt (unintentionally) at the hand of someone else. The expression of someone else’s hopes that collided with her own reality left her feeling tender, raw and a little bit heated to the injustices of the expectations presented in our culture. It was good for her to process, and it was good for me to listen, especially as I realized though I saw both sides, I understood where she was coming from. The biggest takeaway, though, was that this other person was in no way trying to make this friend of mine feel frustrated, sad or hurt, and yet those feelings still presented themselves.
Fast forward several hours after that walk. I came across another dear friend using the term “full-time mom” in reference to her time staying at home with her little one. I immediately felt a tinge of tenderness towards that classification, because as a new mom-to-be who will return to work, I don’t feel as if I will be less full-time as a mom because I work outside of the home. I won’t be a full-time marketing director and part-time momma or vice versa. I will be this little babe’s momma full-time and work full-time… as well as be a friend, daughter, wife and mentor full-time.
But before these tender feelings took off and could become blown into frustration, exasperation or hurt, I felt God gently nudge me and remind me of the same conversation with my friend that morning. I met her frustrations with understanding and then combatted them with encouragement that this other person was reacting out of their own joy and hopefulness and not out of a place of hurtfulness or unthoughtfulness.
The same was now true for me.
This dear momma friend of mine was speaking from a place of reality and fact: she does stay home with her baby full-time during the day. The classification of her reality was in no way invalidating my (different) reality. I can’t, and shouldn’t, turn her words into something they were not saying. Here’s what it all comes down to, friends:
We get to choose how others make us feel.
In a world that is saturated with messaging like “No one gets to make you feel less about yourself“, “Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do“, “Haters going to hate” and so on, it all feels really aggressive to the other party. It puts the blame on others for making us feel threatened, less-than or hurt. But please tell me a time, ever, in history when we could truly control other people and their actions??
It does not lessen the fact that words are powerful and when wielded incorrectly, they have the power to cut others down and hurt us deeply. Please don’t hear me say that people should never be held accountable for their words or actions. I’m not excusing behavior or advocating for that.
What I am advocating for is that you and I, as individuals who are in control of ourselves and our own reactions, need to take a deep breath, step back to see their point of view, and to take our tenderness to the One who knows us and loves us deeply. Sinfulness, selfishness, bitterness and all.
I’m not going to choose to be hurt by the words my momma-friend said, because 1) they were not meant for me, 2) that was not the context she was using them, and 3) it was my own insecurity, slight jealousy, and tenderness towards being a working-momma that made me feel that way… not her or her words.
As I continue to learn this lesson personally, I find great encouragement from Hebrews 6:13-20. I have a deep hope that God has great promises for me — and this includes my growing family. His call on my life looks different than even those I walk most closely with and that is not only okay, that is good. It creates diversity in our community and new stories of triumph and struggle, where our testimony shines His goodness. But what a shame if rather than cling to the One who tells me my identity I create wedges between my relationships with those who are different than me? No, ma’am. I’m not going to surrender that victory to Satan so easily.
Today, I’m reminding myself that I get to choose how others make me feel and that they very much so pale in comparison to who my Creator says that I am and who He has called me to be. What a great reality. Amen?
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.