“I’m so stupid! I can’t do anything right. I’ll never be able to do this! I’m an idiot.” Frustrated and overwhelmed, my daughter threw up her hands in despair and plopped her head down face first onto the kitchen table in defeat. I wasn’t sure either one of us was going to survive another round with her math homework. A strong writer and an imaginative storyteller, she saw numbers as her nemesis. Despite her good grades in other subjects, she considered her increasing struggle with math as irrefutable evidence of her lack of intelligence. Math was hard, so clearly, she was stupid.
“Stop calling my little girl stupid.”
When she heard my stern voice, she raised her head out of her dramatic slump and looked at me quizzically. I repeated myself.
“I mean it. Stop calling my daughter names. Stop calling my little girl stupid. She is not stupid, and I don’t like you calling her names.”
She smiled at my silliness as she realized I was referring to her, my little girl. I looked at her and once again reiterated my admonition about her self-reproach.
“You, my love, are not stupid. Some things are easy for you. Other things are more difficult, so you will have to work harder. But you can do hard things.”
Although not quite as dramatic as my daughter, I often fall into the same trap of beating myself up, quick to list all the ways I fall short. No one is more intimately familiar with the places I don’t measure up, the areas where I am not enough. I imagine our heavenly Father offering a similar response when we call ourselves names and berate ourselves for our failures. We are tough on ourselves and our inner critic can be so mean.
“Failure, fat, stupid, lazy, ugly…you will never get it right, you always mess up, what makes you think you can do it this time?”
God says otherwise.
Recognizing and refusing to cooperate with the voice of our inner critic is part of how we partner with God in the work He is doing in our lives. Our inner critic is a saboteur and speaks the language of shame and lies. Although it is important to acknowledge both our strengths and our weaknesses, God never intends for us to drown in shame and condemnation. Filling our minds with the truth of God’s word allows us to turn up the volume on God’s voice and turn down the volume on the one who would keep us feeling defeated, scared, and stuck.
In order to be brave, we must repeatedly choose who we allow to name us.
God says His children are redeemed, holy, forgiven, uniquely gifted, empowered by the Holy Spirit, brave, and beloved. God proudly declares we are His masterpiece and His handiwork, and He has created us to do good works. God created us and uniquely equipped each of us with gifts, talents, strengths, proclivities, and passions that He intends for us to use for the benefit of our hurting and broken world. When we give in to despair and defeat, we are denying our birthright and our powerful identity as children of God. When we stay stuck in failure and sin and refuse to accept God’s offered forgiveness, we deny the power of what Jesus did for us. Yes, we are a work in progress, but we are the handiwork of the Creator of the Universe. We are in good hands. The masterpiece is not yet complete.
Friend, stop calling God’s beloved daughter names. Some things will be easy for you. Some things will be harder, but you can do hard things. You are the daughter of the King.
Excerpt adapted from Being Brave: A 40 Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You, ©2017 Abingdon Press.
More about Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)
God has made us brave, not fearful beings. In a forty-day devotional format, author and blogger Kelly Johnson invites you to consider a new way of thinking about what it means to be brave and challenges you to seek a greater intimacy with God and the people God has placed in your life.
Through Scripture, stories, prayers, and thought-provoking questions, you will recognize the seeds of divinely inspired bravery and learn the strength found in community. Using letters of the word brave as a guide, Being Brave highlights what God’s Word has to say about the characteristics of bravery: Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, and Engaged and Empowered by the Spirit.
Banish the fear that holds you back. You are a brave soldier!
is a counselor, coach, writer, speaker, retreat leader, and human rights advocate. She has a Masters degree in Social Work and worked for years as a counselor in the mental health and addictions field. She is passionate about social justice issues and believes Jesus calls us to take care of the vulnerable and fight for the oppressed. She is the author of Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You.