Amy Gannett, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband and golden retriever. She writes about church history, practical theology, and Christ-focused womanhood on her blog, Word and Craft. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @amycategannett.
My mind would not let me rest last night. From 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., it spun. I couldn’t find the right position or burry my face deep enough into the blankets to stop the internal noise. My mind replayed conversation after conversation from yesterday afternoon.
The words I replayed were not unkind or harsh. But they were criticisms. I don’t know what it was about yesterday, but it seemed like in every realm of life people voiced their disappointment in me: the email from a seemingly irritated co-worker, the encouragement embedded with constructive criticism from my husband, the courteous challenge from a ministry team member. None of these people meant me ill, but their words lodged in my heart and threatened to sicken it.
As I tossed and turned in the wee hours of the morning, my frustration grew; not with the speakers of the words I obsessed over, but with myself. It was clear to me that I had become a woman whose worth felt threatened by other’s opinions.
I didn’t used to be this way, I told myself as the clock rounded another hour. When I was in my early twenties, I couldn’t care less about what people thought about me. But I know the truth: it all started in middle school. I cared about the grade on my report card and about having the coolest sneakers in gym class; in high school I cared that I was thin enough to wear leggings and that I sat at the right table in the cafeteria; in college I insisted on having all the right accessories and one joke about my hair sent me to the stylist.
I guess not much has changed.
It’s only 7:15, and I’m still groggy from my fitful night of sleep. The coffee hasn’t quite kicked in yet, and I should really be getting in the shower. But here’s the truth that I need for today: because Jesus has redeemed me, I can receive any critical word because my confidence is not in myself for prideful ideas of value, but in the immense worth and value of Jesus.
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
The words of yesterday can all be true of me (and very well might be) and, by being true, do not diminish my value, my calling, or my eternal inheritance. All of these things are dependent upon my Savior’s value, perfection and work, not mine (2 Cor 1:21-22, 5:17; Gal 2:20; Col 3:3). God did not save me because of my merits, and He will not dismiss me due to my shortcomings (Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5; Rom 8:1-4). I can consider criticisms and receive reproach because I know that I am securely held in the hand of a God who might just be using these critiques to grow me in humility and Christ-likeness. And in the process, His love for me will not change, His care for me will not falter, and my security in Christ will not be shaken (Jn 15:9). Whether through discipline, rebuke or encouragement, He is always in my corner. He will always be for me and not against me (Heb 12:6; Rom 8:28).
And in this truth I will walk today. I will set alerts to remind myself, I will post it on my desk, I will keep this truth as close to my heart as possible. I will step out the front door in confidence and assurance that my Father is pleased with me because of His Son, and not because of my own capabilities (or lack thereof). And, in this truth, I will return to my bed tonight in gratitude and peace. I will shut my eyes in rest, because of His great, merciful love for me.