When three different friends give you the same gentle reprimand over the course of a week, you know it’s time to listen. That happened to me a few weeks ago, and it was like a heavenly “smack upside the head.”
The issue: my constant bent toward negative self-talk and putting myself down. Yes, I love to encourage other people…to build them up…to help them see their best qualities. But when it comes to self-assessment? Not so much.
I am well versed in what’s wrong with me…but have continued to struggle to find “what’s right about me.”
All three of my friends challenged me to look at the reality of who I am. To not consider it prideful to admit that I do have positive qualities, and they are numerous.
I took their messages to heart. But I still was struggling to accept the truth down to the core of my being. I could nod in assent…but did I really believe it?
One of my daily prayers is to ask God how He wants to mold and change me. As I was thinking and praying about my friends’ collective advice, a light bulb went off in my head. I started to think about knitting.
I’m an on-again/off-again knitter. Not exactly a beginner, and definitely not advanced. And I’m very sporadic. But I have knit more than a few items and given them as gifts. And I started thinking about the impact of people’s reactions to a hand-knit gift. Most are incredibly appreciative and understand that the gift truly is a labor of love.
I thought about how I would feel if the recipient started focusing on the imperfections of the hand-knit item. “These stitches aren’t even.” “A knot is showing.” “You didn’t pick very nice yarn.” “This sure looks handmade.” “What were you thinking?” Thankfully, no one has ever voiced these reactions to me. (Not saying they haven’t thought them!)
As the knitter, I would be incredibly offended.
And yet, if I continue to flog myself and focus on my shortcomings, I’m insulting the One who “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) That Psalm continues: “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
I’ve read those words hundreds of times. But did I believe them? Did I believe that I was wonderfully made? If I did, then I needed to stop thinking and saying otherwise. A very simple idea. And it impacted me profoundly.
Now, when I find myself about to fall into the old habits of self-condemnation, I remind myself that I am “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Ephesians 2:10) Instead of looking at my flaws, I am trying to be grateful for my gifts and abilities and use them to help others for God’s glory.
Thankfully, I finally “get it.” The last thing I want to do is to insult God, the Master Knitter.