Friday Feature: Alecia Harrison
Who Am I When Everything Is Out Of My Control?
I have been plagued with worrying about the opinions of others most of my, if not my entire, life. It's nothing new, but it's something I struggle with daily. As a child, pleasing others and being in their good graces was ingrained in me.
As a young girl the smiles and approval meant everything to me-- it meant I had value and I mistook that as love. Though as I got older I realized that this approval that I was always after, that I fought so hard for, that I felt gave me my identity, proved to be a prison.
I was not free to make my own decisions. I could not let my friends, teachers, or family down. And if I did disappoint someone, I felt worthless. I felt like I no longer had value. Once people got what they wanted from me, they had no need for me anymore. I started to believe that I had no worth or importance. I began to question God, asking him why he made me like this. I wondered why the only value that I had depended on what I could do for other people.
And then something happened... Or didn't,but that's not important. I went through a really rough patch in life where I lost a lot of friends and a lot of respect. People were lying on me and tarnishing and destroying my name that I worked so hard to build and keep clean. The nasty and vicious lies from people that I loved and cared so deeply about rocked me to my core.
I was devastated. How could this happen? To me? I had 24 years of proof that I wasn't the person that people were painting me to be, and it was all washed away with one lie. Those I called my dear friends didn't stick up for or defend me. I was outcasted and alone.
In those moments it seems the only person who is there for you is God. But if I'm being honest, I was angry with Him. How could He let these people do these things to me? How is it that a lie has gone further than the truth? How are you letting these people prosper when they stabbed me in my back? I have done nothing but love them and please them and this is what I get? Why didn't you defend me, God? I'm always so careful not to offend or hurt anyone. Why won't you save me? What did I do to deserve this? You know me. You know my character. And you're just letting this happen. Don't you know how much this hurts?
And then it struck me. One day through friends, through scripture and through Christ himself, the truth that I ignored was there in front of me. I spent my entire life worshiping people and their opinions, and God was beginning to dethrone that god. See, God is a jealous God and He wants no person, place or thing (that He created, mind you) to take His place in our lives. He may let the idolatry go on for a little while, because He's patient. But after a while, He will have enough and will do anything in His power (which is everything because He has all power) to strip you of your false god.
How do I know I was worshiping others and their opinions of me? When it was pointed out to me that I valued what other people thought of me (based on lies, no less) more than what a Holy, Faultless, All-knowing, Just, Fair, Perfect God said about me, I knew this was a problem.
On my list of people to please, the two most important people were not on it: myself, but most importantly, God. I was created to love and serve Him, but I was loving and serving mere human beings and literally killing myself in the process. It took God taking what I found valuable away for me to focus my attention (even if it was angry attention) on Him. No matter how hard I tried to defend myself or stand up for what was right, it didn't work. People were being stubborn and refused to see the truth and I was powerless. But this allowed God to prove Himself Powerful.
So, who am I when everything is out of my control? I am His. I am loved. I am valuable. Fortunately, He has not given me complete and total control in my life, nor has He burdened me with the responsibility of making everyone happy. That's impossible to do. I am only one human being with limited power. He made it that way so that I can rest and lean on Him (Even God's main concern is not making sure that we are "happy" all of the time. He knows it is fleeting and sometimes what makes us "happy" in the moment is not beneficial for us).
He wants to be God of my entire life. He wants to make things right in His way and in His time, not limited to what I can do. He wants me to not focus so much on what other mere human beings say about me, but believe and trust all of the wonderful things He knows about me (Because, well, He created me and He would know best).
He wants me to live in the true freedom of his love and grace and not beat myself up because I let someone down. He's also shown me that if a Faultless God shows me grace, love, goodness, fairness and mercy, then my friends who claim they love me should do the same.
This journey has been a process and it is far from over, but it's a process that I'm grateful for. God is tearing down the flawed system that I used to judge whether or not I was worthy of love and compassion. He is showing me my true value and identity and how much I am loved. It does not come from the opinions of fickle people nor does it come from works, but from the heart of an Everlasting, Perfect, Loving, and Unchanging God.