I watched a movie that might be becoming one of my favorites the other day: The Help. There are one or two scenes in it that are so poignant and are the reason I like the movie so much. In one of them,there’s a flashback where the main character, Skeeter, a white girl probably in junior high or high school in the flashback, is talking to her maid, Constantine. Skeeter’s hiding because no one asked her to the dance, and the boys say she’s ugly and she doesn’t want her beauty-queen mom to know about it.
So the old maid finds out why Skeeter’s not at the dance, and with strength but compassion, she asks this intense question that creates such a beautiful and moving scene in the movie. She says, “Every day....Every day you're not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the morning, you gonna have to make some decisions. Got to ask yourself this question, ‘Am I gone believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?’ You hear me? ‘Am I going to believe all of them bad things them fools say about me today?’”
I love that scene. Just absolutely love it. Probably because it’s a concept that I wish an old maid could have instilled in me as a young girl. It would’ve saved me alot of heartache! I probably also love it so much because of what I’ve been learning recently. I have spent most of my entire life being terrified of people’s opinions of me. And I mean terrified. I’d try my very best to perform in any way that would make people like me. I never wanted anyone to have a negative opinion of me. But of course, as much as I tried, I couldn’t do everything ‘perfectly.’ I couldn’t live my life so that everyone around me would always only have great and happy things to say about me, glowing reports of how wonderful I was. So if someone ever didn’t like me, or said something negative about me, or made fun of me (even in a friendly way), I would be crushed. It felt like that negative opinion would enter into my mind and heart, and define me. By define me, I mean that the opinion would dictate what I would do next to ‘fix’ the bad opinion, to adjust myself so that the negative opinion wouldn’t happen again. Sometimes my ‘fixing’ of myself would look like trying to do better: be more fun, be more caring, be more wise, have something more intelligent to say. Sometimes, though, it would look more like hiding more and more of myself away, putting on more of a ‘mask’ to not let people see the imperfections inside of me that brought on the negative opinion. I’d figure out what people did not approve of and work to not do that again. That’s why I’d use the word ‘terrified’ to describe how I’ve felt about people’s opinions of me.
But now I’m learning all about how I don’t have to let people’s opinions ‘define me.’ I can be settled in who I am, regardless of what anyone says about me, kind of like what that maid was helping Skeeter understand in The Help. All throughout my day, I can make decisions to not believe ‘all them bad things them fools say about me today.’
The way I’m learning to see it is that people don’t have the right to tell me about the way I should be. God made me. He knit me together. Not even I was responsible for my creation; I didn’t decide who I should be. God Himself decided who I would be.
Not only did God make me, but when I was inevitably corroded by sin and wandering around trying to make my world safe and secure on my own, by making my life all about me, by using people left and right, He bought me back by dying on the cross, making me doubly valuable. The reason I say doubly valuable is because it’s like He proved that He’s serious about the way He made me. He wants me, the way that He formed me to be, and He was willing to buy the ruined-by-sin version of me back with His life. His purchase of me opens the door for me to be adopted by God as His daughter. All the love, enjoyment, and delight that Jesus deserves because of His perfect life, death, and resurrection, I get to receive. It’s lavished on me. Because of that, I don’t HAVE to prove my worth to people anymore. I don’t have to make sure no one sees anything negative about me. I can step back from the arena of people’s opinions and the weight that they carried for me before, and I can rest knowing that I am highly, highly, highly valued by God because of His first creating me, and then rescuing me in Jesus.
Just like Constantine told Skeeter, people will say all kinds of bad things about me. I can take a step back and realize that what they say about me might even have nothing to do with me AT ALL. They could be saying things about me based on their own pain. They could misunderstand something. They might not even be meaning what I’m assuming they’re saying. Negative opinions WILL come. I don’t have to be afraid of them anymore. I don’t have to let them enter in to me and define me. I can let God’s opinion of me, demonstrated through creating me, rescuing me, adopting me, lavishing His love on me, and telling me all about it in His Word, define me.