Have you been there? The place where you imagine everyone looking at you wants to take their thumb and pointer-finger and make the big “L” on their forehead as they stare in your direction?
I’ve felt like that way often throughout my life.
Growing up, it seemed like I never did anything right in mom’s eyes. Whether it was trimming around the trees in the backyard or scrubbing the shower, typically I’d get, “You missed that spot. Go and do it again.”
Grade school was embarrassing. Mom always cut my hair, and the bangs were shorter than short. Why did she always have to have them cut that way?
Junior High was horrible because I always had to wear clothes that were totally out of style. And since my last name was Trent, the mean kids often would call me “Trenchcoat.” Certainly did nothing to help my low self-esteem.
In high school my rebellious nature came out – big time. We had moved to a city where it seemed as though everyone was rich except us; so I often got the snubbed noses from other girls as they paraded around in their new clothes, driving a brand-spankin’ new car. To feel better about myself, I began mixing in with the wrong kids who drank a lot and experimented with drugs.
But getting high did nothing to help me. It just deadened the pain for a short time. I still felt like a loser.
I dropped out of high school after my junior year and got a job at a pancake house. Since no one knew me there I was able to create a type of alter-ego for myself. I worked hard and began to get accolades from my boss.
But all it would take was to have a bad day (like the day I dropped an armful of 16 dishes full of pancakes) to put me back into a downer mode and make me start to question myself.
However I kept working hard thinking somehow, someday, people would realize I was important after all. That I was a winner, and not a loser.
Since I had no college education – and only a piece of paper which said I’d completed my high school requirements through an online school – I typically had to work very hard to sell myself to prospective employers. So I did my best. After working at the pancake house for a few years I started working at a steakhouse where the money was a lot better. Then a couple years after that I snagged a job at a large law firm as receptionist, even though I’d never done anything like that before.
I worked hard at that law firm, eventually moving into a secretarial position. Often I would cram in way over 8 hours a day typing and re-typing briefs and pleadings in order to prove myself to my bosses. No computers back then!
It worked. I began to get noticed for my tenacity, and was given more and more responsibility.
A few years later I began freelancing, and one of the largest law firms in Seattle at the time hired me on and let me work as much or little as I wanted. The pay was great, and I was able to take a lot of time off to travel with my husband when he had to go somewhere on business.
Truly I had made it.
But if I was now an important person, then why did I still have such a hard time believing I really was worthwhile? Why did I still think that someday people would find out how pathetic I really was? Why didn’t I have that self-confidence deep inside me like so many of my other friends – the self-confidence that knows they are unique and loved, no matter what?
Aargh … the fallen human nature.
Of course I really had no idea back then just how “fallen” us humans really are, because I’d yet to find out who God really was. I had yet to learn that once you truly know Jesus, you never again have to fear being a loser.
Why? Because once you surrender to Jesus, you are adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15) – and your Dad is now the Creator of the Universe! You become a conqueror, and learn that God promises to never leave your side (Deuteronomy 31:8). You learn that when those days of trouble come (which they will to all of us), your Father is right there, and He takes care of it – in His time and in His way (Romans 8:31-39).
How great is that?
Writing this, I began thinking back to Adam and Eve. How different things would have been if they had really understood just who their Father was. After all, they had such a unique and wonderful personal relationship with Him, living in the beautiful Garden of Eden.
Their world was so perfect – until that day.
The day when the enemy of our souls slithered over to Eve and whispered,
“Did God really say…?” (see Genesis 3).
How easy it was for Eve to all of a sudden start salivating towards the forbidden fruit in the Garden; the only fruit that God had forbidden them to have.
How easy it was for Adam to grab some also, their taste buds suddenly craving the lone thing God had said not to eat.
But after they ate, everything changed for them. They, in effect, became losers not winners. They became losers because they listened to the voice of evil instead of the voice of Father God – their Creator.
They found themselves banished from Eden. Sin had entered the world…
Now it’s easy to read of Adam and Eve, and “tsk-tsk” what they did, isn’t it?
We sit here a few thousand years later and wonder how they could’ve been so naïve. Why in the world did they do what they did?
But … don’t we make the same type of mistakes? I know I do – way more often than I should!
When I perceive something not nice has been said about me (whether true or not), I often find myself sinking back into my shell. I begin allowing those nasty little thoughts to start rolling back into my brain.
The thoughts that say, “You really are a loser, remember?”
I begin listening to the same enemy that Adam and Eve listened to. Satan, the enemy of our souls.
The enemy who tells me that I really don’t do things right. The enemy who tries to remind me that God’s Word isn’t really true. That God really didn’t say that I’m His child – loved and precious in His sight like it says in Isaiah 43:4. That Jesus really didn’t die because of His love for me (John 3:16).
So, what must we do when those lying thoughts begin swirling through our heads?
Fix our eyes upon Jesus:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. [Hebrews 12:1-3]
Friends, I certainly know at times it can be very difficult to rid yourself of the self-doubts that come and blindside you at inconvenient moments; but when we trust Jesus – and keep our eyes firmly focused on what He says about us – He will always help us to get through.
As a child of the King of Kings, we are never losers. We are a winners. So we must start living like it!