Recently at work, I received some words of affirmation and encouragement. Do any of you relate to feeling uncomfortable or awkward in receiving verbal praise? Don’t get me wrong. I love to receive positive reinforcement, but for a person who is rarely at a loss for words, I just never know how to respond. Nevertheless, hearing those sweet compliments blessed my heart, my confidence and my development in this new career. I said to my husband, “Sometimes I wish I could see me the way others see me.” As soon as I said it, I said, “Well… maybe not.” Brandon replied, “That’s right, because although some people see the best in you, there are others who won’t have very positive opinions of you. That’s why we should ask the Lord to help us see ourselves through HIS eyes; not our own and not others.” I couldn’t agree more, but this led me to reflect on different times in my life that individuals spoke into me at pivotal moments. One that comes to mind was when I was in the 8th grade. My English teacher compared my attitude to the exceptionally positive attitude of Anne Frank. She told me that when I walked into a room that it lit up. Those words were spoken to me almost 20 years ago, and still yet, I’ve never forgotten them. I couldn’t see that in myself, but I felt a sense of responsibility to her opinion of me. It’s helped me to maintain my effort to deter from negative speech and a mopey disposition when I’m around others. Even in those crummy days, I aim to not let it affect others.
Another period of my life that molded my character and attitude was, unsurprisingly, when I was injured. I remember hearing people repeatedly describe me as “a brave little girl.” The truth is I felt anything but brave. I experienced feelings beyond fear; complete terror to be honest. I had confusion and anger; moments of disbelief; a sense of unfairness. This perhaps was my first memory of wanting to uphold someone’s positive opinion of me, because despite the depth of fear and uncertainty I had, I felt a responsibility to be brave.
I tell you all of this because, in all reality, I didn’t possess the strong characteristics of what was said of me; those were spoken into me. As I heard how others viewed me, it gave me aspirations to truly be that individual; it gave me character goals, so to speak. And this boils down to my thought for this post. It’s that of victim versus survivor.
There are numerous times in life that we’re faced with undeserving circumstances; unpleasant situations; unwarranted conditions. But those are the times that our character is developed; those are the times that we grow closer in our walk with the Lord and learn more about ourselves than we knew. It is for this reason that I cringe when I hear the label, “burn victim.” I say that there are burn patients, burn survivors and sadly, burn victims, but I am not a victim, I am a survivor and overcomer.
Those going through difficult times come out stronger than ever before. There is a resiliency that cannot be trampled. There is strength that cannot be weakened. We have observed this in the inspirational stories from the recently tornado stricken town of Moore, Oklahoma. My daughter is spending three days with her youth group serving that community, and I know that she is going to observe survivorship first hand; she is going to see strength beyond measure with her own eyes.
You may not be facing the aftermath of a tornado, or the rehabilitation of a severe injury, or the grief of death, but you may be facing a storm. You may feel weak and helpless. You may feel scared and overwhelmed. But I challenge you to see yourself through your Father’s eyes, and consider the message that you can speak into others by their observation of you.
I feel led to leave you with seven scriptures on strength. Take one a day and speak it out loud over your life this week. Meditate on these words and know that you have the strength of a survivor and overcomer and an attitude that can withstand any negative circumstance.
Day 1~ God arms me with strength, and He makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32 (NLT) Day 2~ He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Psalm 23:3(NLT) Day 3~ The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11 Day 4~ God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1 (NLT) Day 5~ My life is an example to many, because You have been my strength and protection. Psalm 71:7 (NLT) Day 6~ My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Psalm 73:26 (NLT) Day 7~ The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. Psalm 18:14 (NLT)
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