In a world where last names matter, I grew up a world class nobody. It’s not who you are, it’s who you know, right? Yeah. By the time I realized that I was good enough – or better – than those taking their places ahead of me, I had a complex composed of discouragement and doubt. I had always assumed I was not qualified because I had not been encouraged in my talents or picked by the powers that be. Even the small voice telling me I know better was silenced by disillusionment. You’re Lori. You’re difficult. You’re disliked. You have no place. No one wants to deal with you.
In my pride, I did not care. In my misery, I cared far too much.
Sometimes it just doesn’t matter how smart you are. It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much you care. It’s not even about how hard you work or how well you serve. When you’re that girl nothing – not discipline, not diligence, not honest dialogue – will ever make any difference. Wherever you go, you will always be that same girl. The outcast.
I have come to learn at this stage I call mid-life that certain people are seen in certain ways. Once you are labeled one way or another, nothing you can do or say can ever bring redemption. Call it blacklisting, if you will. There’s always a black sheep in the family. For some reason, (likely my own sin) it’s usually me. In the eyes of those who have made up their minds about your undesirability and insignificance, there is simply no deliverance. And I guess that’s ok. If this is who God created me to be then so be it. I do have to admit that being Lori is harder some days than others, though.
I lack confidence across the board. Confidence from the Latin words “con” (with) and “fidere” (faith). With faith. Aha. There’s my real issue. If I couldn’t put my finger on it before, it is crystal clear now. I lack confidence because I lack faith.
Redemption. I am among the redeemed. Christ has paid for all my black sheep blame and made me spotless. I know who I am. I know I have infinite purpose. I know my worth. So why do I still struggle so with confidence?
I believe it is the same reason I find myself struggling with jealousy. I am not jealous materially. I am jealous relationally.
Because I have so often felt rejected and unwanted in life, it is hard for me to believe that I am chosen by God. It is hard for me to believe I am chosen by anyone. I have a negative self-image reinforced by those who have made me the girl that will always be the unchosen outsider no matter what I say or do. How often I hear people talk about how Jesus loves, forgives, and wants to know us personally! How often that rhetoric, albeit true, is followed by actions that prove that they do not.
Therefore, after another mediocre jog through the neighborhood, I have come to find that I am jealous. I want to be included. I want relationships that other people have. I want to be useful, and purposeful, and helpful, but I am always wondering why I often still feel so uninvited. I am struggling with the tenth commandment. “Thou shall not covet.” Unlike the other commands from God which deal primarily with outward actions, this one focuses primarily on thought. Little wonder why it is my problem. Little Lori has always lived inside her head.
Pride and jealousy are married. False confidence is their offspring. Faith and redemption are married. True confidence is theirs. My prayer is that the thoughts of my heart turn away from discouragement, loneliness, self-pity, pride, and jealousy to faith and confidence in Him. Amen.