Someone close to me called me dumb this week. They apologized, and I accepted. But I have replayed that over and over again in my brain like a record. It hurts and it is painful. Yet, I know they were not trying to be mean or vicious. I know it was more a slip of the tongue than anything. I even know they felt bad and truly regretful. And yet, here it sits in my brain, spinning and spinning like an Olympic Champion ready to conquer me and declare victory over my life.
The truth is, those words said by others, as painful as they are to hear, are not the worst words that I have heard. I have called myself far worse things than dumb. Far worse. Hearing one word, that word, from another person, only confirms the thoughts that I have suspected about myself for a long time. Only reassures that I really am dumb. Only solidifies what I already believe to be true about myself. So, the words themselves are not nearly as important as the words that I believe to be true. The words of others only confirm my worst fears, some of the worst thoughts that I think toward myself. Like damaging evidence in a court case, the words stack up in my head. That I really am as bad as I think I am. I really am dumb. I really am a failure. I really don’t get this life or relationship thing right. I really am a reject. I really am worthless. I really have no value. I really have nothing to offer. I really am a fake.
So, what do I do? I spend hours analyzing events and conversations. Things I could have done differently. Things I could have said differently. Choices I wish I had never made or things I wish I would have done. Trying to understand. Trying to figure out where I failed, and what went wrong. Trying to make sense of how I actually became this dumb person. Trying to figuring out how I could really get every part of my life wrong. Because, that is so often how I have come to understand my life. I am a failure, who cannot seem to get anything right.
I am dumb.
Then I cry out to God that I cannot figure this out. I do not understand. I do not get it. I cannot figure out the starting point in which I became a worthless person. And that is about the time when God pulls out the Bible big guns and I am reminded of a verse. I crack open my Bible, and land on a verse that I have read a thousand times before. I know it by memory. I even get kind of annoyed when people quote it to me, because I have heard it quoted more times than I care to count.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
What!?! I just mentioned how little understanding I have of events. And now, smack dab, in the middle of this verse I have heard countless times, sits this word that finally connects to my heart. Understanding. I do not have any understanding, and I cannot lean on my own understanding. And the entire meaning and its application leaps right off the page in an entirely brand new way for me. Trust in the Lord. Lean not on my own understanding. From my understanding, I am the biggest failure. The most foolish person. Invisible. Forgotten. Worthless. Hopeless. Dumb. From my understanding, I am the least valuable person in the world. But, that is my own understanding, not God’s. That is not God’s understanding of me. God says:
I am chosen, even as foolish or dumb as I may seem (1 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 1:27).
I am loved (John 3:16).
I am carefully created (Psalm 139:13).
I am redeemed and made new (Galatians 3:13).
I am worth more than precious gemstones (Proverbs 31:10).
God has plans, a purpose, and a hope for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
I have gifts and a calling for my life, given by God, that cannot be revoked (Romans 11:29).
God says that I have worth. I have value. I am loved and not dumb. I have something to offer. Can I tell you how many mistakes, how many sins I have found myself in simply because I leaned on my own understanding of my worth? I did not understand that my life had any value or meaning. I trusted and leaned on my own fuzzy interpretations and understanding. And every time it has led me to a place that is far away from God, and way too far away from knowing my worth and value. God has a call for my life. God has a purpose. Not just any kind of purpose, but the kind that brings hope and a future. Not just the suffering on a cross kind of plan and hope, but the glorious resurrection from the dead kind of hope. It really comes down to this question:
Do I trust God with all my heart?
Do I lean on my own understanding?
I will ask you the same question. Do you trust God with all your heart? Or do you lean on your own understanding? To trust means that we have boldness, confidence, and security in God. Do I want to have boldness? Do I want to have confidence? Do I want to feel secure in my life and relationships with others?
A person who knows their worth and value in Christ Jesus, does not get caught up in the damaging testimony of others. A person who knows their worth, does not allow the stack of evidence against them, to derail the plans and the calling that God has for their life. I may not always feel like a champion in my spinning thought life. When the case is stacked against me and my own mind is ready to convict me and find me guilty and without a purpose or a plan. Yet, I can choose to trust God, and lean not on my own understanding of things. I can choose to trust that God loves me and has plans for me. I can choose to have confidence and security in what God says, rather than leaning on my own understanding. So, the question for me and for all of us is:
Do I want to lean on my own understanding of things?
Or do I want to have boldness, confidence, and security in the Lord?
God has a calling for our lives. God has a plan and a purpose. Trust God.
“Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” Hebrews 10:35