I have wished I was someone else for big chunks of my life.
I know. It sounds terrible but honesty isn’t always fun (though often funny).
The first time I knew I wasn’t quite good enough was on a visit to a preschool. I distinctly remember some kid calling me “fatso”. I can show you pictures of the time. I wasn’t fat (that would come later) but I do remember it making me feel something at the time. Embarrassed? I don’t know. I was four.
The desire to be someone else grew stronger with time but really took off in junior high. By then, I had been through my parents divorce and really gained some weight. Like the other guys I started taking notice of the girls but they started reminding me (sometimes subtle and sometimes loudly with their mouths) that I was fat and no one wanted a fat kid.
Humor is born of adversity.
I’m not saying that I’m funny but you have to cope with life somehow and I found laughter a huge help. Here’s something that isn’t funny about being funny: a lot of my friends hated it. They would make fun of me for laughing all the time and the girls also made it very clear that funny was no good. Fat and funny? Who would want that guy?
I did have friends but the overall message that I received so often (even when it wasn’t being directed at me) was that I was not good enough. A message like that received at a young age often becomes a “truth” that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Circumstances and people told me in junior high that I was not good enough and I etched that on my heart.
I decided to push back.
The way I pushed back? Eventually I lost weight. Played a sport. Lifted some weights. Wanna know something that is funny/not funny? When you’ve lost weight, people are more okay with your jokes. Suddenly your humor is a great thing.
Obadiah, this is not a fun story. I know. I warned you when we started, but I have learned some things and I do think it will turn around a bit of you’ll hang with me a little longer.
I learned two wrong lessons from these junior high moments:
1. I’m not good enough.
2. If I conform to the standards of those around me, I will be good enough and feel better.
Two was the way I dealt with one. Both of these were unhealthy and temporary.
For example, you re-make yourself into the kind of person that a certain group of people like but then you change environments. Now you are confronted with a new group of people with new standards. You can either be “not good enough” or you can conform to a new set of rules. This is a common but also terrible way of coping.
I am not “over” this. I’m still working through it. I still deal with not feeling good enough but in the middle of my desperate quest to get people to like me and feel good about myself I encountered God’s love.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Here is a different lesson. God made me and his “works are wonderful”. This means that even if the people I am surrounded by do not see my value God HIMSELF does. Even when *I* do not see my value, God sees it and declares it. Jesus died for me and God likes me. He makes good stuff and I’m something He made.
Knowing this truth, I can still struggle with the “rule” that I wrote in my heart a long time ago. Those old rules can be hard to overcome because we’ve lived under them for so long but take the words of that Psalm above and write it EVERYWHERE. Say it out loud to yourself. Put it on sticky notes on your mirror or in you car. Write it on your hand.
When you see those notes: DO IT.
Praise God because He made you so awesome.
It’s okay if you don’t feel it. It’s going to take a while to push back on the lies you believed as a kid with the TRUTH that you now have as an adult, but here’s the thing: truth eventually wins. It might take time but slowly and surely you begin to see it.
God made you. He loves you. Focus on that, remind yourself of that because there is another universal truth to remember:
Haters gonna hate.
Focus on the love.