THINK ABOUT IT
No One Likes Me!
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
I was excited about hosting an intimate and fun get-together of four girls plus my roommate at the house. In preparation, I cleaned, baked cookies, and selected just the right fragrant candle and the appropriate music to set the tone. At last I was going to party with the girls!
But on the day of the party, two friends graciously bowed out due to illness and two never showed up. After trying to reach my MIA friends by phone and getting no response, I felt this sinking feeling in my heart. It was more than frustration or disappointment; it was more like a familiar chill in my soul.
As I snapped my cell phone shut and took one last look out the window at the sudden downpour that was threatening to swallow up the front yard, my secret fears began to surface: Face it, Laura, no one likes you.
I suddenly recalled a similar childhood scene. I was 8 or 9 years old, sitting on the couch in the family room of a second-story apartment in the small town of Seeheim, in what was then West Germany. My family had traveled all the way from Tennessee to spend the year in this quaint village, where I attended a German-speaking school as a second-grader. It was my birthday party celebration. The cake, party favors, and games were ready. All that was lacking now were the guests. And they were late.
So I waited. And as I waited, I watched the swirling rain thorough the big windows and felt a bit like that soggy mess. Surely the rain wasn’t keeping my friends away, I pondered nervously. It’s just rain, after all.
But soon my party was washed out and I was feeling washed up. No one came.
Oh sure, some of the children stopped by just long enough to give a gift and quickly wish me well before leaving to go somewhere more important, including my crush, Sven, who I had guessed would rather spend time with the beautiful and girly Claudia than gangly, awkward, foreign-girl me. Even getting a silver bracelet from my not-so-secret admirer Stephan did little to cheer my mood. He was, after all, a big nuisance, not popular, and not attractive.
Other than these two brief encounters, no one else showed up. No explanation. No “Sorry, I can’t make it.” Just a big cosmic YOU ARE NOT LOVEABLE message driven into my young spirit.
And it was more than I could take. No one wants me, I cried inwardly. My mother was wonderfully compassionate that day, telling me in her English way, “Never mind, Darling,” and giving me a hug and that I-love-you-anyway look. But I was inconsolable. I wanted to be liked by my peers; no, I needed to be liked by them. I appreciated my mother’s efforts, but the answer I got that day stuck in my head, and it would continue to resonate in my heart for much of my growing-up years, defining my value.
The word came in different forms, like being picked last for a sports game in gym class, or not making the final cut in the cheerleading tryouts in junior high, or not having a date to a school dance in high school. But the effect was always the same: rejection. Laura, you aren’t acceptable is what I felt.
And here I was now in adulthood, fully able to operate effectively as a hostess and a friend, feeling less than because a couple of gals didn’t make my party.
A completely illogical and ridiculous reaction, but it felt so much like my childhood memory that I accepted these feelings as fact.
But those feelings weren’t the truth at all. In fact, reality should have told me otherwise because these friends of mine would never have thought that about me. Instead, they would have seriously questioned my insecurities, had they known them, and offered these encouraging replies:
“Unloveable? Laura? No way!”
“Incapable of throwing a successful party? Not on your life!”
“Unpopular? You are kidding. Lots of people like Laura.”
The night of my party, I finally had to come to the realization that I could either let my feelings take over and plummet into self-pity, or I could revise my perspective in light of what was true: my friends hadn’t rejected me intentionally; they were simply busy or sick. Their unavailability didn’t have anything to do with them not liking me. Yes, it hurt not to see them. But I didn’t have to let those circumstances define me.
And even if my friends ever rejected me for some reason, God still loves me. People can be fickle, but God is always faithful. He knows my inward parts and still calls me His beloved. He died for me even while I was lost in my sinfulness. He offers me new mercies every morning. He comes to save me, not condemn me. And that knowledge is even more powerful than anything any person could ever say to me or do for me.
Once I came to that conclusion, I was able to rejoin my roommate undeterred. She and I had a wonderful time, and the evening turned out to be a real blessing. That would have never happened had I wallowed in my distress.
Now it’s your turn. What lie is niggling at you? Is it that you aren’t beautiful or you aren’t successful? Maybe you heard that you wouldn’t amount to anything or that you would always be a disappointment. Maybe you believed you had to be the strong one and could never show your vulnerability. Or perhaps you came to believe that you were the helpless victim who could not overcome.
Here is what I am learning. These words that we hear in our heads have to be weighed by God’s Word. We are not obligated to accept every thought as truth. We must distinguish between the garbage and the gems.
As it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV).
We don’t just blindly accept whatever fleeting notion enters our heads. We actively wage war by binding and gagging incorrect thoughts. We give those ideas no room to move around in our brains. We give them no authority to affect our subsequent emotions and actions.
How exactly do we recognize which thoughts are wrong and which thoughts are right? We have a standard called the Word of God.
This is why Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (NASB, emphasis mine).
There are two important points that I would glean from that verse. First, our minds have to be reprogrammed. We just can’t trust ourselves to believe correctly without a continual relationship with Jesus Christ that includes reading the Bible. Our culture isn’t right about what we should think or feel about ourselves. We can easily internalize ideas that simply aren’t pure, good, or true, like I had done the night of that party. Second, once we get enlightened by the Word of God, we can recognize what’s right-on thinking and right-on actions and what isn’t. We realize that God is for us and not against us. We are able to see God’s good plan for us like Jeremiah laid out in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV).
Let’s begin to reclaim the avenues of our mind in light of Christ. Let’s be careful to do as 1 John 4:1 says, and that is to test every spirit to make sure that the source of the message is God. Remember, we can’t assume that everything that gets spoken into our lives is the Lord.
Let’s put into practice the principles in Philippians 4:8 : “Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” ( The Message).
I pray that you and I together would come to understand just how high and wide and long and deep the love of God truly is for us (Ephesians 3:18). For once we come to understand this, we will be less prone to fall for those lies that tell us otherwise.
And as we continue in our close walk with the Lord, listening to and obeying Him, He will reveal who we truly are: loved, accepted, and complete in Him.
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