Living out the labels that family and friends give you can keep you from walking in your God-given destiny. You must decide that you will look to God, not people, for affirmation. Let Him define you by His labels, which bless and do not curse you. I can tell you that I spent too many years comparing myself with others and thinking I could never measure up. That less-than mentality drove me to make decisions that were detrimental not only to me, but also to the generations after me.
Isn't it amazing that God made us one of a kind, yet we beat up ourselves trying to be like everybody else? In essence, we try to become God by deciding when we're on our game and when we're worthless. Even when no one is judging us, we judge ourselves. We are our harshest critics, and we convince ourselves that everyone sees us as negatively as we do.
That is what happens when you are driven by your emotions. You can spend time and energy trying to be like some people and not like others. You cannot see the world as it is, and the world never sees the real you.
I didn't know who I wanted to be, but I knew I didn't like the me that God created. I was never happy with myself. I wanted to be like other people, and I wanted my family to look like their families. I lived behind a façade that hid my identity. I didn't even begin to know who I was until I was 36 years of age.
The Comparison Trap
It's clear to me now that I had never learned to be content in my earlier life. That came much later, but thank God, it came! The apostle Paul had a solid grasp on being content. I think it was because he understood the power of the Holy Spirit. It was through the Spirit that Paul learned to be content and could say, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (Phil. 4:11, NKJV).
Finding contentment has a lot to do with accepting who you are and who God created you to be. Are you content? Do you have a clear sense of who you are? If not, simply ask yourself right now, "Who am I?" If you are going to glean anything from this teaching, you will have to honestly answer that question—or at least admit that you're not quite sure what the answer is.
I know what that's like. While my petite mom complains that she is too short, I have asked a thousand times why I was not born shorter. I remember walking into my dad's office one day when his pastor friend was visiting. The man immediately asked me, "How did you get to be an Amazon?"
Obviously, he wasn't referring to the online marketplace but to very tall women in Greek mythology. To me, the statement became a point of comparison for almost everything I did from that day forward. My imagination took over, and I saw myself as bigger than everyone else. I began comparing myself to everyone in my family and wondering, "Why was I born so tall? Why, God, did You make me so different?"
Not all my complaints were physical. I was already dealing with learning disabilities and wondering how it was possible for my brother and me to perform so differently at school. He excelled in his studies, but I couldn't solve simple math problems.
I thought, Surely I've done so much wrong that God is punishing me.
Discontentment is not a good place to be. I wondered how I could trust a God who made me so broken that I could not be or do anything right. Are you getting this picture? I could not figure out who Kimberly was created to be, other than something less than everybody else. Being a loser seemed to be my only fate.
Now, by the grace of God, I know that He never created me or anybody else to be a loser. Not even one of us is less than in His eyes.
Don't you know that when Persia's King Xerxes chose Esther, a young Hebrew woman, to be his queen, she could not yet see herself standing at his side? She was an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai. She had no dowry to offer a king. She wasn't raised by royalty and did not know how to act like a queen. In fact, she was a despised Jew among Gentiles.
In my opinion, Esther would never have become Xerxes' queen had Mordecai not believed that she was ready for the position. If it had been up to Esther, she would not have seen herself as being up to the task. However, God had a plan for her, as He does for each of us. Once Esther got on board, it was her responsibility to prepare herself for that plan, which she did. With the help of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem of candidates for queen, Esther became everything the king desired in his bride.
Esther's beauty quickly won her favor and special attention from Hegai. Whatever he instructed Esther to do, she did. When she finally went before the king, he was immediately taken with her. He found Esther to be the most attractive candidate, and he placed the royal crown on her head.
This young Jewish woman had no idea that God would use her to save the Jews from annihilation. Yet the Bible says God chose her for the role. Mordecai sensed it too and asked her, "Who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?" (Esth. 4:14b, MEV).
Remember that God is "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34b). If He chose an unknown orphan girl and made her queen, He has great plans for you too. God will send the right people to help set your promotion in motion.
A New Perspective
When all you see is the loser in you, when all you hear in your head are judgments against you, you are not capable of receiving from the people God sends to encourage you through your journey. You might even believe that you have no encouragers because all you can remember are the people who put you down.
Could it be that you are not seeing what you are not open to seeing? Maybe you haven't allowed yourself to embrace opportunities for growth and have unknowingly dismissed the very people God sent to assist you on your journey.
Believe me, I'm not pointing the finger—except maybe at myself. This is exactly what I did for years, so I know what it's like to reject people for the wrong reasons. I rejected the people God sent to help me because I saw them only through my self-inflicted pain. I could not believe in myself. Therefore, I could not believe anyone would want to help me.
I now know a little more about what was going on. I know what John 10:10 says about our enemy, Satan, wanting to steal, kill and destroy our future. He attacks anyone God promotes. But God warns us to be watchful of the enemy's schemes. First Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
Satan continually harasses us because he wants to destroy our lives and keep us from the joy of relationship with our Lord Jesus. Can you imagine the attacks Esther must have faced? She suffered great loss in her life and probably never imagined herself sitting on a throne.
Had she not begun to believe that she was destined and assigned by God, she would not have believed Mordecai's insight into her destiny. She had no idea that she was being placed in the Persian kingdom to intercede for the Jewish people. God gave her enormous favor with King Xerxes, who would otherwise have accepted the advice of his chief minister, Haman. Haman was intent on destroying the Jews, and he almost succeeded in doing so. But God had a plan, as He always does, and He worked His plan through Esther.
It's easy to judge the unlikely people God sends your way and doubt the benefits of their presence in your life. Esther was a great asset to Xerxes and to her people, but she was not born into royalty. In and of herself, she was not prepared to do what Mordecai believed she could do. Yet, with faith and a willingness to follow instruction, she became well-equipped for her assignment.
You might feel totally unready to take back the ground Satan has stolen from you, but remember this: You have already survived things you thought for sure would take you out. And you will survive whatever you are facing now. Neither the opinions of others nor the lies the devil whispers in your ear will determine your destination unless you let them. What you believe matters, and only what God says really counts.
So do what I did: Tell yourself (hundreds of times, if necessary), "I'm not who they say I am. I will not allow those who judge me to destroy me with their words. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
The Future You
God has declared the new—a new day, a new relationship, a new business, a new marriage. It's your responsibility to step into it.
Esther could not have known the strength that was within her until Mordecai prompted her to approach the king about Haman's plan to annihilate the Jews. In that day, a queen could not enter the king's presence uninvited. If she did, she risked death. Esther knew this. She approached the king with trepidation, but also a willingness to die for the sake of obeying God. Because she acted in spite of the danger, she is remembered to this day for saving God's people.
The enemy isn't trying to kill you; he's trying to stop the deliverer within you. He's not after who you are. He's after who you are going to become.
Today, I can look in the face of the opposition the enemy brings and laugh. Why? Because I have been through the fire, and I came out in one piece. I may have slowed down for six years to get my life on track, but during that time, I saw my destiny up close. I realized the call on my life was greater than any pain I ever endured.
The enemy will do anything necessary to create havoc enough to blind you to the person God created you to be. He's betting you will lose faith in your purpose, which is the reason for your life. Could it be that the enemy sees more greatness in you than you see in yourself?
God is ready to work with you when you are ready to walk with Him. It has nothing to do with what people say about you. It really is about your choices. No one could have written the plan for my life as it is today. Even my parents, who loved me unreservedly, could not have foreseen my life as it is now.
One of the greatest lessons for me has been understanding how to accept and love the person God created me to be. I had to learn contentment in that. For a time, I clung to certain people, not realizing that they were limiting my elevation in the Spirit. I had become codependent, needing their affirmations. I did not know how to allow God to be my Lord in all things.
But when I gave up and said, "It's over," I stepped out of the less-than mentality and into a blessing mentality. I am still amazed at how easy it was! I moved on from the very people I thought I couldn't live without. I no longer needed their affirmations to make my decisions. I realized I could think for myself. The cobwebs were clearing out of my mind, and God's direction was becoming clearer.
God is asking you to do some hard things right now because breakthrough is coming, and you need to be ready. You are not who people say you are. You are one of a kind. Don't allow fear to determine your destination. You will not end up alone. When you allow God to be Lord of your life, you and He are a majority.
Kimberly Jones-Pothier, known as "Real Talk Kim," is a pastor, bestselling author and entertainer. She and her husband, Mark Pothier, are the senior pastors of Church of the Harvest in Fayetteville, Georgia. She has been featured on CNN, the Doctor Oz Show, Preachers of Atlanta, Nightline and numerous radio shows.
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