So this is me, Amy Dyas. It probably doesn’t look like I’m the kind of person who would worry about why someone hasn’t texted me back, wondering if I’ve done something to offend or said something wrong, or just generally feel anxiety and worry about who I am. Yet this is a major part of my existence. I am not filled up to the brim with self esteem and worth, rather, I often worry about who I am based upon other peoples behaviour and attitudes towards me. Yet I can see that because I am possibly the most sensitive person on the planet that this “behaviour towards me” might actually be nothing at all and that I have yet again overthought something or felt something too deeply and felt something that wasn’t even intended. To be honest I feel like I am going out on a bit of a limb here by sharing my fears and insecurities, particularly as I know friends will probably read this and start wondering if maybe they’ve inadvertently hurt me without really doing anything at all but that is not the intention of writing this and hands up I can say I know I feel things too much sometimes, this is about my problem not anyone else’s. Thankfully God has shown me that in many ways this sensitivity is in fact a gift as I don’t just feel this sensitivity for myself, I feel it for others too which means I can be very in tune with other peoples hurt and pain and therefore able to help comfort or support when maybe others didn’t even know it was needed. But there is certainly a down side to being sensitive and one that I need to conquer in order that I can use this gift effectively. God didn’t give me something for it to bring me joy and pain, God never brings pain. The pain comes from my own lack of faith and from the devil seeing a moment to jump on what can be a weakness and use it against me.
The photo above is not a fake photo though, it does really capture much of who I am and because of that I love this picture. It was taken with my husband in those first few years of early married life when it was just us with the freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted and go wherever we wanted without checking the term timetable first! This was taken in Germany on a weekend away when we lived there and we have a series of shots of us both racing through the woods like complete loons! In keeping with this photo, the fact of the matter is that when people meet me they meet a confident person who loves to socialise and have fun which is completely and utterly true, that’s me. It’s just not all of me because we like to hold the other stuff back don’t we? Just let people see our best selves. The reason I can sometimes be so confident is because I love interaction with others. I love meeting new people and I love, I mean totally and utterly love, friendships. They are so stupendously important to me and so I don’t feel the need to lack confidence in social situations because that is when I thrive. Yet underneath the smile and the fun lies low self esteem, fear and worry. It has always lurked there but after a very bad relationship and a nervous breakdown 14 years ago, I have spent many years working on this side of myself and while I can tell you that in comparison to who I was three years ago I am so much more filled with self worth and peace now, it doesn’t change the fact that that those shady grey areas, where the sharks circle (as my sister describe anxiety in one of her recent blogs) still exist. I have been trying to work out why. Why is it that these sharks won’t just leave me alone and as I was lying in bed last night pondering this the bible verse
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
jumped into my head. It is a verse from Psalm 139 and it is all about how God has made us, how he knitted us together in our mothers womb and everything we are is because He chose to bring us into being. As you can probably imagine from all of this it is a psalm I have come back to again and again over the years. However the word “fearfully” has always puzzled me, I have never quite understood what it means to be “fearfully made” so before writing today I did a little bit of research on what Greek word it came from and its exact meaning. In fact I started off trying to find another translation entirely as I just didn’t like the sound of “fearfully” but I am glad that I didn’t try and make the bible sound the way I wanted it to and took the time to find out the real meaning-its way better than anything I could have replaced it with! In a nutshell it is talking about the fear of the Lord and Vine’s Biblical dictionary describes “fearfully” in this context to mean “to be afraid, stand in awe”. For those of you who aren’t Christians this probably sounds a bit harsh, to be made in fear of someone, but for me this translation brings much comfort and understanding.
On one hand God “wonderfully” made us, we are His perfect creation and everything that He makes is beautiful and purposeful and this alone brings worth to who we are. But that word “fearfully” means that we were also made to stand in awe of Him and if we are to stand in awe of the our Creator then surely that means we are to trust and believe His creation and His reasons behind His creation i.e US! Yes we are called to worship and trust a God who is all powerful and all knowing and with this comes fear of His authority and power but we are also called to “stand in awe” of a God who CHOSE to make us, not just as a collective bunch, not like a million fish eggs just dropped down in hope that they will get fertilised but if not all do then no big deal! He CHOSE every single person, He chose you, He chose me. He decided our eye colour and our walk, He picked out our voice and our skin, He made our hearts and our minds and He placed gifts inside each and everyone of us, all for a PURPOSE. You are a purpose waiting to spring into action, you just need to hear it, believe it and trust it. And psalm 139 tells us that not only is this all true but that we should rejoice because of it: “I PRAISE you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, and then later in this part of the psalm the psalm writer declares, “This I KNOW full well!” We are meant to hear it, trust and believe it!
So what became clear to me last night as that verse came into my head is that the reason why I never get all the way there with my self esteem, the reason why I fret and worry about the little things is because I haven’t fully accepted this reality of Psalm 139 into my heart. I haven’t fully got my head around how my great and wonderful God has such a specific purpose for me but I realise now that in receiving it, by believing and it by fully trusting it those sharks will have to swim away because sharks cannot circle if you are standing in awe of the living all powerful God of all creation. The bible says, “At the name of Jesus every knee must bow”! So as we bow to Jesus our Lord and Saviour, those sharks have to bow before Him too. Hallelujah!
However, this message is not just for us as individuals. God making us each in this way is not just about our personal lives, but about us as friends, as communities, as nations, and a world and the reason for this is that if YOU are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God above, then so is the person sitting next to you. They were made with the same tender loving kindness and God has just as great plans for them as He has for you, but the question for us all is this:
Do you treat other people like God made them with that same love and purpose?
Do you see them as a child of God, made with the same love and grace as you and bought with the same blood? Or do you see the things that bother you, the things that annoy you or do you not see them at all?
We are called to have confidence in ourselves as creations of God but we are also called to have confidence in our friends, neighbours, families and ENEMIES as creations of God.
So as you start your day think about who you might meet today and how you might treat them, think about the emails you need to send and the tone you write them with, think about your words and your actions and how they come out and how they come across, think about the text messages you forgot to send and the hug you considered giving but held back because you weren’t sure if it was the right thing to do. Hardest of all, think about the person/s you need to forgive. It is certainly one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but we love because He loved us first and we should forgive because He forgave us first. I recently watched a short video by Nadia Bolz Weber on forgiveness, and I was blown away by her perception on the subject. “Its not about being a doormat, it’s more bad ass than that. Maybe retaliation or holding onto anger about the harm done to me doesn’t actually combat evil, maybe it feeds it. Forgiveness is about being a freedom fighter, free people laugh more than others, free people see beauty where others do not. That is worth fighting for”. Your “enemy”, the person that wronged you or caused you pain, they were made with the same everlasting love and wonder that you were made with, hold onto that and try and see them as God does.
Finally, think today about how many times you can say “I love you” to yourself, to others and to God, for this love we choose to accept and know full well.