asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic

Words

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“Never let others’ compliments go to your head, or their criticisms go to your heart”

When I read this, immediately I thought of these crazy peacocks again.

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This peacock reminds me of how inflated our egos can become when we allow affirmations from others to define us. We can become puffed up and self-righteous. Compliments feel good, but should not become our identity.

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This peacock reminds me of what can happen when we allow criticism from others to become a nasty lie in our hearts.  We can become as ragged and tattered looking on the outside as our hearts feel on the inside…because…

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” ~~~~Proverbs 4:23

Words have always had too much power in my heart and mind.  Most of my life, I spent so much energy trying to get others to tell me that I was worthy and loved.  No matter how much “overachieving” or “people pleasing” I did, the words that I needed to hear never came.  However, criticism was readily available. I was either thirsty for want or drowning in despair.

Moderation was a tightrope walk for me, because I allowed either the compliment or the criticism to settle in my heart.

There were many times when I was arrogant, egocentric, self-centered, self-serving, and self-righteous because of the compliments for the things that I had DONE, not for who I was in my heart.  Inside my head and my heart, I tucked those words in tightly and did life from that place.  I did…and did…and did!  I was confident and capable from that place and those words.

It’s the criticism that would take me down.  Those words easily replaced anything else.  Criticism does have a place in our lives and in our hearts IF they come from a place of love.  I have friends that love me enough to say…

“No, Tamara, that’s not right.  I need to tell you this because I care more about your growth than I do about our friendship”

Then they speak to my heart WITH LOVE, not resentment or bitterness or jealousy or self-serving reasons.  They love me and want to see me be the best ME that I can be.  I am so protective over these God-ordained friendships!

But that other criticism is different because it is satan’s way of using people to knit lies into the dark places of our hearts.  God often allows this because we don’t hear Him or won’t hear Him.  I can now FINALLY recognize that, but it has taken my whole life to understand this.  At one point, about a year ago, I allowed satan’s lies spoken from someone to really destroy me.  I had been praying for several years for God to…

“Empty me of me and fill me with you”

I really thought that I meant it.  I wanted to rid myself of the ugliness in my heart.  However, I had no idea how hard being empty would be!  The depression that settled deep inside of me was like nothing that I had ever felt.  Satan finally whispered the words that pushed me so far down that I had no idea how I was going to get back up…

“See, Tamara!  The truth is there…you are unlovable and do not deserve love”

I allowed this to become my truth.  Thankfully, God sent a few angels to bring me back to the states and literally “love me back to health”.  God used these angels to show me the ways in which I am loved and lovable.  He used them to combat satan’s lies.

When I returned home, God said,

“Ok, Tamara, now it’s time for us to get to work”

He began to shine a light into the dark spots in my heart.  Then he began to slowly change my heart.  He replaced that sadness with joy and love.

“Search me, God, and know my heart! Test me and know my anxious thoughts!”~~~Psalm 139:23

Now, I do not give others’ words the power that I did before. The only way that we can protect ourselves from allowing others’ words to define us is to spend daily time with God, in His word, talking AND listening to Him, and memorizing scripture to block out the lies that can settle inside our hearts.  We are no better or no worse because of others’ opinions of who they think we are.  The only opinion that matters is the one that God has of us. Here’s the thing…fearfully and wonderfully made God made all of us…and He don’t make junk…no matter what anyone might say! His love is abounding, people!!!

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