It's Not About You
Deflecting the arrows pointed at your heart
One of the ugly truths of this world is that people sometimes say really hurtful things. Words spew out of their mouths like flaming arrows, headed straight for your heart. But here’s the thing. Even if those words are aimed at you, they’re not really about you.
More often than not, people speak out of their own hurt. This isn’t always the case, but usually, hurtful words come from a hurting heart. That’s not an excuse for bad behavior, though. Just because you’ve been hurt doesn’t give you a pass on hurting someone else. But it does help to know where people are coming from.
It’s taken me a long time to realize this, but the things people say about me aren’t truly about me. They stem from deep places of insecurity, pain, confusion and fear. They’re the result of past harms that were never fully resolved. And while that’s not fair to me, it doesn’t have to define me. I don’t have to let those words sink into my heart.
I know it’s hard to let people’s words roll off your back and keep going. It’s hard not to sink into a spiral of self loathing after being verbally berated. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the sting of words intended to hurt. I’ve been torn apart by the careless onslaught of words out of someone else’s anger and pain. And I have to admit, I’ve let those words cut me deeply. I’ve allowed them to fester and linger, causing me more and more pain as I thought about them over and over again.
But at some point, I learned to stop letting it be about me. I learned to recognize when someone else is speaking out of their feelings, and I’ve developed the skill to shield myself against that. I’ve had to grow into my suit of armor and wear it when I head into battle. When those flaming arrows come my way, I have to be aware and ready to protect my heart. It still hurts, of course, but I am better able to get past the hurt and remember the truth of who I am.
I won’t give any specific examples of words that have been flung my way, but I will tell you how some of them made me feel. They’ve made me feel discouraged, disappointed, forgotten, unworthy, stupid, selfish, ugly, despicable…the list could go on and on. But what I’ve learned out of those words being thrown at me is that I don’t have to feel that way. I don’t have to let them become my identity. Because guess what…yes, I’m human. I’m flawed and imperfect. But I am not unworthy, stupid, ugly, or any of those other things. Those feelings aren’t rooted in truth, and I don’t have to believe them.
This is not to say that I don’t occasionally examine myself and check to see how I might be able to grow or improve. But my identity is not found in the thoughts, opinions or words of others. My identity is found in Christ alone, and I know who I am in Him. So I don’t have to be afraid of those carelessly spoken flaming arrows, because they don’t define who I am. They don’t change anything about me.
When those hurtful words come at me, I can choose to remind myself of the truth. I am beautiful, loved, chosen, forgiven, set free, cherished, special, whole, made in the image of God, here for a purpose, confident, courageous, more than a conqueror, peaceful, joyful, and secure in my identity. I know all these things because I am rooted in the truth of God’s Word.
If you have been hurt by the words of others, remember that those same truths apply to you. You are so much more than what people think or say about you. Remember who you are and Who you belong to. You are so precious and loved, and nothing anyone says will ever change that. And when someone hurts you, try to remember that it’s not really about you. As I tell my kids, you can’t control someone’s actions, but you can control your reactions.
Love you, friends. I’m always here if you need to talk or pray. Be encouraged today as you walk in your God-given identity.
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