I’ve been doing some wrestling lately. While there hasn’t been any physical “taking to the mats,” there definitely has been some throwing down, of sorts, in my mind and in my spirit. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where or when the wrestling match started, or if I was even aware of it until I was flat on my back, looking up and wondering what had happened. The specific circumstances of it don’t even matter (and aren’t entirely appropriate to share, even here). But what I think I need to talk about it, because I have a feeling I’m not the only one tangled in this particular scuffle.
Let me back up. My husband came home one day last week and could tell I was out of sorts. He logically assumed our daughter had something to do with it. That’s a fair assumption most days, but on that day my funk had nothing to do with her. He enveloped me in a hug, sympathetically asking, “What’s wrong, babe?”
I bristled a little, not entirely ready to talk about it, but I didn’t even think about the words before they came out of my mouth. I shrugged my shoulders and sighed: “I don’t think I matter. I’m just not important.”
To him, those words likely came out of nowhere. To him, they probably made no sense and may have made him feel badly, thinking he had done (or not done) something to make me feel that way. The truth, though, was that I was simply repeating what Satan had been telling me for a long time.
“You’re not important.”
“You don’t matter.”
“You weren’t included because they forgot about you.”
“You weren’t asked to do that because your contributions don’t mean anything.”
“You are insignificant.”
“You do not matter. To anyone or anything.”
He repeated it so often and for so long that I became convinced.
A Christ-following daughter of God ought to know that’s not true. I know I am precious and beloved and known and cherished. I know I was created intentionally, knit piece by piece in my mother’s womb for a purpose known by God and intended for me alone. I know my family loves me but that my Father loves me even more, and I know that even when the world rejects me, I have found unconditional, undeniable acceptance in the heavenly places.
I know that. But.
When those little jabs come, as they do in every life, my security is chipped away. When someone else gets to do something I thought I’d be chosen for, I consider whether I would have been any good at it (or anything else, for that matter) anyway. When I finally work up the courage to send my words into the world and they are rejected, I wonder if it’s worth it to take a chance and say anything ever again. When someone else does what I do…but better than I do it…I believe my contributions are inconsequential. And when I let myself entertain those thoughts for even a moment, they become as good as true.
And then comes the confirmation in a bitter, hateful whisper: You. Do. Not. Matter.
It’s believable because it simply echoes what I’ve been thinking all along.
It is just me? I doubt it. It’s a pretty ageless tactic. But sweet sisters, here’s what I’ve realized from my position flat on my back on the floor: it’s believable because it is close enough to the truth to be confusing. And that makes sense, right? Because it’s pretty much all our enemy does: take what God says, and twist it into something similar but completely different.
We know what our Father has told us. We know who He says we are. We know what we are here to do.
But we hear what our enemy says….and it seems kind of believable….
So we wrestle. You and I and all of us may hear that voice and believe it, but there is no real truth in it. You know that, right? You and I both do, but we wrestle. We know what God says, and we use it as a weapon against our enemy in the best ways we know how. Yes, I do matter. I do. I know that because God says I do.
But then I think…..do I matter? Should I even want to? Because I am a child of God created to reflect the Father and to bring glory to Him and it’s never supposed to be about me, anyway. It’s about Him. It’s about decreasing so that He may increase. It’s about stepping aside so He can be seen. It’s about owning our insignificance in order to exalt the significant One.
There is a balance to be found. We matter, because we matter to God. But we are not the important ones. It’s all about Him. And here again is the wrestling in our spirits. Our pride wants to matter. Our self-esteem needs for us to be important. But deep down we know it was never about us. It’s about God-esteem over self-esteem.
So friends, I have decided on a new strategy for getting myself up off the mats. The wrestling can be incapacitating, but there is a way up. I think there is a way of stumping our opponent to the point that he has to back down.
When I am flat on my back, my enemy triumphantly towering over me with a look of victorious satisfaction, I have two words to say to him. As his words echo my insignificance in my ears and my heart, I have only one response: THANK YOU.
Because all He is doing is reminding me of my place. He is reminding me of my purpose. He is getting me back on track. Just as he tried to derail Jesus with lies in the desert, he tries to derail my purposes in the everyday moments of my life. Jesus was strengthened and found His purpose reaffirmed in the twisted words of the enemy; I, too, can use the attacks of my enemy to remind me what I am here for in the first place.
He must increase. I must decrease.
Don’t look at me. Look at Him.
I am important only insofar as my life points to the Important One.
When I feel like I don’t matter…when I feel like I don’t amount to much…that will be a reminder that yes, I am a small person….whose life points to a big, big God.
It’s not about me, and being insignificant may be the biggest compliment of all.