Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it…”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I have some things I need to work on. Actually, there are many, many “somethings” I need to work on but there are a few that seem to keep coming up in my life. Here goes:
I hate to be underestimated.
I hate to be misunderstood.
I hate for people to think that they’re getting over on me when they’re not.
Just writing it makes my blood boil over. I want to scream. I want to tell folks off. I want to strategically do things just so they know that they are not fooling me.
And every one of those actions are wrong.
Not because there isn’t usually some justification–at least by the standards of our world. Public figures are always trying to “set the record straight* about something or another.
But the worse part of this kind of defensive reaction on my part is, it assumes that that there is no God at work on my behalf.
In fact, it’s actually a way that I subconsciously try to do the work of God on my behalf. Be Him.
Despite what people understand or don’t understand, estimate or underestimate about us; do or don’t do to us, isn’t it still true that God is our hiding place (see Ps 32:7)? That “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11-12)? That he stretches forth his hand against the wrath of our enemies on our behalf (see Ps 138:7)? That he knows the plans he has for us (see Jer 29:11)?
Do we really think His plans for us will be thwarted because of words, thoughts, or actions hurled against (or even for) us?
I think sometimes we act like they can.
You see, my need to be understood—or, at the very least, to not be thought of as less capable than I am—only reveals my awful need to be validated by people. The truth is…who I am and what I am capable of was never crafted or determined by what anyone thinks of me. Nor can it now be hindered. At least not by people’s “thoughts.” What CAN hinder me is my reaction to a person’s thoughts. My acting out in so-called defense of myself is absolutely a hindrance. The truth of my capabilities lies in the hands of the Creator who gave them to me. They also lie in my own hands as I slowly uncover over the course of my life all with which he has gifted me. If, for whatever reason, someone chooses not to acknowledge these gifts OR chooses to construe them as something other than what God has said…that’s their issue. Not mine. I don’t have to own or give voice to their view. Nor do I need to defend myself against their erroneous perspectives.
Ooooh, I hear you, Granny: “What people think of you is none of your business!”
But it’s hard, I know. Don’t we always want to scream out to people, “I’m better than that!” or “You got it all wrong!” or “You don’t know the whole story!”
But if WE know the whole story and God is the AUTHOR of our story…then why do we become so emotionally wrapped up in someone else’s interpretation of said story? Why aren’t we content with Him; trusting that He will bring all things to light in due season?
There are really only two authentic outcomes to this kind of thing:
#1, either what people say or think about me is true…and so I must own and deal with that. Or #2, what people say or think about me is false…and so I must ignore and let God deal with it.
Either way…I am only free from the “boiling point” when I choose to not allow the deceptive feelings of anger and frustration to take over me in an effort to defend myself against other people’s thoughts.
(which is crazy because how do you really defend against a person’s thoughts? Actions, yes. Thoughts, not so much.)
But what about those who think they’re getting over on you?
Doesn’t that just burn you?
I mean, you see right through their schemes. You discern their intentions. But because you haven’t acknowledged their violations out loud they walk around you with a kind of psychological smirk on their hearts that you can sense even if you can’t see.
But I’ll say it again for both of us: it’s none of my (or your) business.
With the exceptions being illegal or extremely harmful acts, most of the time trying to “let them know that you know” is not worth the time it takes to do it. In fact, their attempt to “get over” is a commentary on their own insecurities; insecurities that won’t just go away because you decided to call them on their stuff. Their need to “dig” you or “jab” you, whether verbally through gossip or emotionally through manipulation (we all know emotional bullies, right?), is a reflection of the state of their own hearts. And when we stoop to their level and roll around in the proverbial dirt with them, that too is a reflection of the state of our hearts. It reveals our need to play defender where only God can defend.
So today, let’s sit back and let God defend us against the petty preoccupations and preconceptions of people. I’m certain that He’s more capable than we ever could be.