Free to Be Me

 

Don’t you hate it when people judge you? You see the look in their eye or the slight shake of their head. It’s just plain annoying. You know they are thinking things about you and most likely they don’t have the full story but it’s not like you can walk around explaining yourself to people all the time. So what do you do? How do you deal with it?

God has been stretching me in this area for some time now. Last year, during a time when I was feeling particularly misjudged, a friend told me, “People matter to me but their opinions of me don’t.” Whoa! That’s quite an epiphany for a recovering people pleaser, like me. Every time I think I’ve conquered my people pleasing tendencies, God puts me in a situation that shows me I have further to go. But that one thought has helped me repeatedly over the last year. I can care for others without caring what they think of me. Because I honestly can’t control what they think of me. If I’m doing my best to be myself each day, in every situation…to be the person God has made me to be…to please HIM…well that’s all I’m responsible for. If someone misjudges me, that is really between them and God.

I’ll give you an example. It’s a silly one, but hopefully it gets the point across. I have a Bible app on my iPhone that I use most of the time for reading my Bible at home and at church. So in the middle of the sermon when I’m looking up the current scripture on my phone, I guarantee there are people around me who think I’m texting or playing something on my phone instead of listening to the message. I have two options. I can change what I do…bring in my regular Bible and use that because I don’t want to be judged. Or, I can just choose to not care. I can trust that God will deal with them in his own time. I have my reasons for using my phone. I already have it with me and it’s much quicker and quieter, finding the various scriptures on the screen as opposed to flipping through paper pages. I just prefer it. And I need to be comfortable enough with my decision to not care if others agree with it or not.

When we concern ourselves with what others think of us, we end up wearing masks. We act one way around one person and another way around another person just so they will like us….so they won’t judge us. But that’s an exhausting way to live because it’s not real. Wearing masks all the time is like writing with your left hand all day long even though you’re right-handed. You can do it but it’s messy and tiring.

It’s much more freeing to actually be who you really are and not care if people approve or not. Other people may want to change you and in some cases they may even be right about what you need to change. But the bottom line is that it’s not their job to make you see your faults. That’s God’s job and he does it much better. He is really the only one you need to please and if you’re doing that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

I’m reminded of the refrain in the old hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen H. Lemmel:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace

 

If I’m focused on him, the rest will fade into it’s appropriate place. The background.

How about you? Do you wear masks when you go out into the world? Do you feel like you’re writing with the wrong hand all day long? I want to encourage you to take off the mask today and be unapologetically you. You and those around you will be better for it. And then leave me a comment later and let me know how your “mask-less” day went.

Love,

rebekah

Oh…and if you haven’t heard the song “Free To Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli, I highly recommend you check it out on You Tube. Click here: Free to Be Me

 

P.S. Today’s topic was about when others judge us. Tomorrow I’ll flip that coin and talk about when we judge others. Tune in…if you dare (insert maniacal laugh here…muahahaha).

 

 rebecca ruth books

 

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Fence laws

A friend commented on my post about drinking, “Why do Christians need to stray off the road into legalism…or licentiousness for that matter? They need to be more level headed….like us!” Haha

Yes, yes, yes! While my post was specifically inspired by a conversation about drinking, the point of my post was really to vent my frustration with legalism.

I remember my pastor explaining “fence laws” in a sermon once. These are laws that rabbis put around the Jewish law (Torah). I had to look it up online so I could explain it properly. The website, www.becomingjewish.org, explains fence laws as follows; “The gezeirah are laws instituted by the rabbis to prevent people from accidentally transgressing a Torah mitzvah. These laws are generally referred to as putting up a fence around the Torah. An example of such a “fence” is the prohibition of handling a writing instrument on Shabbat so one would not accidentally violate the mitzvah to rest on Shabbat.”

So the rabbis essentially put up fence after fence around each individual law to make it almost impossible to break the law. The problem is that those fence laws were treated as if they were God’s law when they weren’t. It’s one reason the Pharisees hated Jesus. He didn’t follow their fence laws.

It seems to me that the legalism that can creep into modern-day churches is just like the Jewish fence laws. While the intention may have been good the end result just wraps people up into bondage. Jesus came to set us free. We should want to obey his commands because we love him, not because we are trying to win any man’s approval or check a bunch of things off a check-list. When we have to obey tons of laws, we feel defeated and smothered. Most people will eventually bolt when they’ve been suffocated by strict and controlling leadership.

Think of it with parenting. I have rules for my kids but as they get older I give them a good bit of freedom. If they show me that they can’t be trusted, I’ll pull back on the freedoms because they are still my kids and while they are under my roof, I have a responsibility to raise them right. But I’ve seen so many people “rule” their kids right out the door. They think they are doing the right thing by setting up fence laws for their kids. They truly do have good intentions but I think they are motivated by fear and don’t even realize it. They think they’re being good parents but if they are too strict, most of the time the kids will bolt as soon as they get the chance. Even if they don’t physically leave at 18, they leave emotionally. They do things in secret that they know their parents would never approve of. It’s their way of fighting back after years of obeying extremely strict rules. Sadly, these kids often view God as a strict task-master and they check out on him too.

I am so thankful that I go to a church that does not set up fence laws. (I go to an awesome church, actually! Check out The Chapel here.) But I write about this because I know that lot of people have walked away from God because at some point they went to a church or lived in a family that was controlling and full of fence laws. People get a wrong image of God when they view him through the lens of legalism. And that bothers me.

 

Love God. Love others. It’s that simple. Christianity shouldn’t be a long list of dos and don’ts. I’m not saying it’s easy but I do think it’s simple and too many churches make it way too complicated. I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t love God or others as much as I should. But I don’t walk around feeling guilty about it. I just keep asking God to give me more love.

He’s not done with me yet but he’s also not mad at me for not always getting it right. He loves me anyway. Nothing can separate me from his love. Romans 8:38 & 39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How comforting that is!

I hope it comforts you, too!

Love,

rebekah

UPDATE: I posted this super early on Sunday morning and was so excited when Pastor Jerry’s sermon was all about freedom vs. legalism. He said everything I wanted to say but in a much more educated and intelligent way. To watch his excellent message, click here.

 

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