Continuing our study of Sally Clarkson’s gem Own Your Life, today we are discussing how to set ourselves free from the voices of those who would distract us from the voice of God.
The voices that are whispered into our souls shape us in profound ways. We slowly grow into the mold we are cast by those who influence our lives. This chapter reminds me how important the words I bestow on others are in shaping their self image.
Chapter 3: Listening to New Voices – Owning Your True Identity
This chapter reminded me that I am precious to God: Created individually, on purpose and for a specific role in His story.
I am a Princess of the King! So are you!
Disney has made a fortune keeping the images of a Princess before us. We are awe struck by their beauty. Their grace captures the little-girl-dream in us of being center stage.
Yet, each Princess is unique. Only Cinderella can don the blue dress and lose the glass slipper. Only Belle can capture the heart of a rude and ruthless beast. The story of Snow White cannot be embodied by Ariel. Each Princess has their own role and they can only be center stage in that one tale.
We all long to be important. We want to matter.
In Chapter 3, Sally Clarkson shares about Owning Your True Identity. Accepting who we are in Christ and not who we are according to others opinions of us is not an easy feat.
Whether true or false, we are shaped by the voices of those around us. Their words and opinions etch identities in our hearts that we believe and embrace. Oh, we can overcome negativity that is poured into us, but not without a struggle.
Highlights from Chapter 3:
Sally shares the story of a new friendship made with a woman who was quickly a kindred spirit. Friendships are a gift – especially those that go into the deep places with us. It is a rare gem to find a soul trustworthy of our deepest secrets and dreams.
Of her friend she said, “Our life circumstances were so different, but our adventurous soul personalities were so very similar.”
Her new friend was extremely successful and had lived out her childhood dream of living in New York City and owning businesses there. However, in her heart was a dark place etched by the negative opinions of her by her own mother.
Sally’s friend said, “I remember my mama’s disappointment in me from the time I was about eight years old, and it has followed me my whole life.”
Sally says, “My own story is similar in many ways to that of my new friend. I wasted many years thinking that if I just tried a little harder or accomplished a little more, I would someday be acceptable to those who had criticized me as I was growing up.”
“I know so many women who lug around the dark places of their past and live under the burden of condemnation.”
Not only do voices from our past affect us, but media, society and even Christian culture can set standards that we feel we must ascertain. We feel a need to measure up…but to what? The standards aren’t even consistent. Yet we feel defeated and rejected if we can’t keep up.
“If we can’t check off the boxes, we never feel as if we measure up.”
“Most women come up feeling short of the mark they are supposed to reach. Only God offers deep-down inner acceptance and approval. Only His ways bring vibrant health.”
“I frequently meet women…who also carry baggage. They have lugged it around for so long that they do not even recognize how burdensome it is and how much energy it steals from their lives.”
“Owning your life must begin with a healthy view of yourself that is based on what God thinks of you. Once you listen to His voice, your self-perception will change.”
“Deciding to like yourself is a choice to validate God’s design on your life. You have an ability to sparkle as you are in ways no one else will ever be able to match.”
“We would never tell a zebra that its stripes should have been polka dots, or a buffalo that it should flit around as delicately as a butterfly. And yet the world tries to fit us into a common mold which leaves 99.9% feeling that we fall short.”
“Nothing we have ever done in the past and nothing we will ever do in the future can change the way God sees us.”
“Owning your self-image is a work of grace that leads to the beauty of true womanhood. It is essential to becoming healthy and strong.
Personal Take-Aways and Challenges:
So, what is the answer? We need to allow God’s voice of acceptance to be louder than the voices of our past or of those around us currently.
Read aloud and let sink into your soul Scripture verses that proclaim God’s love for you and His design for your life. He loved you before you were born (Psalm 139:13-14.)
And regardless of our past choices and past voices, we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we are made new again when we come to Christ. So if, between birth and salvation we have made messes (and we all have), we are born new again in Christ.
So, His image of us never changes. That is amazing to me!
A lingering question of my heart from this chapter is this: Does my voice whisper acceptance or rejection, life or death into the hearts of those I love?
When people leave my presence do they feel accepted and loved for who they are or do they feel that they don’t measure up to some ridiculous standard I have set for them?
My prayer is that I will speak affirmation and that it will seep deeply into the crevices of the hearts of those who hear my words.
Each of us is a princess. We are unique. Each of us is a masterpiece. Remember, with all your individual talents, personality traits, interests, quirks, and dreams – you are His masterpiece.
How are you owning your life? Whose voice is the loudest in your soul? I pray it is God’s voice and that you hear often His words of acceptance.