Who knew that bubble-gum pink and Comic Sans font had the potential to be so anxiety-provoking? My daughter’s six-year-old birthday party invitation glared up at me from amidst the clutter on our dining room table, reminding me that in a few, short days we would have a house full of people. After experiencing that low-grade, pop-intrusively-into-your-mind type of anxiety for a few days, it finally occurred to me that what worried me most was hosting my daughter’s classmates… and their moms.
God has blessed us with four beautiful children, whose birthdays all run consecutively from November to February. So, the anxiety I felt was not due to the logistics of the party itself. In fact, the extra table and folding chairs were still in our living room from the previous, significantly less stressful, family-only birthday celebration.
Anticipating the arrival of unfamiliar people revealed the true source of my anxiety: fear of people’s opinion.
In these days of Pinterest and Instagram, we are often tempted to compare ourselves to others, striving to at least measure up, maybe even one-up them. In those moments of comparison, our eyes may be on others, but our hearts are set on ourselves.
Comparison is the idolatry of self that drives the fear of man’s opinion.
Instead of seeking to glorify God, as I was created to do, my sinful heart desires to glorify myself. The result is not the joy and fulfillment I am craving; it is exhaustion, anxiety, and frustration. Thankfully, God offers a much more satisfying way to live!
Because of God’s grace to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we are free to take our eyes off ourselves and look instead to Him, the giver of true life. God has mercifully chosen to reveal himself in Scripture, in which we repeatedly see a pattern of identity preceding obedience. What we do overflows from who we believe we are, and who we are is inexorably linked to who God is, and what he has done on our behalf.
Before Paul admonishes the church in Colossae to set their minds on things that are above and to put to death what is earthly in them (Col 3:2-5), he first reminds them of who God is, what he has done, and who that makes them (Col 1:13; 21-22). It is out of the overflow of our identity in Christ that we can think, feel, and behave in God-honoring ways.
Our True Identity
The antidote to my concern about other people’s opinion is to remember my true identity. My value is not found in my home décor, nor in my ability to find the perfect combination of engaging, inexpensive, yet mess-free party games! I am valuable because I was created by God, for His glory.
Despite my sinful rebellion, He chose to rescue me from the domain of darkness and adopt me into His own family and kingdom! The validation I long for is already given to me in Christ, and the admiration I desire was only ever meant for Him.
As the Spirit reminds me of those truths, I am freed from anxiety and able to welcome others openly. I’m able to see others as equal image-bearers, not critics, and enjoy loving them, rather than strive to impress them.
This better way of seeing myself and others brings glory to God, and it brings me joy. Even after the last guest has left the party, and I see a basket full of all the favor goody bags.
Myra is a wife to Andrew, and a busy mama to four kids. She describes herself well on her blog, Dependent on Grace, "[I am] a vagrant- adopted by the King through grace alone- learning how much freedom there is in complete dependence on Jesus. He is the source of ultimate JOY. My soul's account is bankrupt apart from his righteous riches!"
Thanks for reading Myra's Made for More Story. Once a month, I highlight my Jesus-lovin' writer friends who are already living and believing that God has made them for more. Click here to receive new content from me straight to your inbox!