A few years ago, in Fall no less, I found myself just outside Los Angeles, California. The team I worked with had a conference there and I was the keeper of the schedule, merchandise table, and other things.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement. We would be meeting people from famous TV shows, people who make films, Congresswomen and more. I asked a friend if I could borrow some clothes before I went. Silly, I know, but I desperately wanted to “fit in” while I was there.
We were picked up in an incredibly nice Mercedes and chauffeured to our hotel where our arrangements had already been made.
Yet, regardless how excited I was to be there, the trip for me, was awful. So awful, in fact, I never wanted to go back to California. The mention of the state would remind me of all the things that went wrong. I was also reminded of the dark pit I went into after the trip.
Soon after connecting with my team, I found myself slumped into a corner of hotel bathroom bawling my eyes out. Why? Because I had an important lesson I needed to learn and learning it would not be easy.
After returning from California, I called out of work, it was the only time in my life that I was so depressed I could not will myself out of bed. I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest and I would die if I stayed in bed. My thinking was not very rational but I knew I needed to physically move. I got out of bed, grab my sneakers and suddenly, the verse Philippians 4:8 popped into my head.. Whatever things are true whatever things are lovely, think on these things… then I thought, “what thoughts have I been thinking?”
As I went for a walk, it quickly dawned on my that I had been believing things about myself that were lies. I kept telling myself “I can’t do this!” “I’m not like so-and-so or so-and-so.” “I’ll never be able to do this” “This is too much for me to handle” “So-and-so should have this job.” On top of all this, my identity had become one with my work. So, when my work was criticized — I felt like I was being criticized.
When I got back to my room, after my walk, I decided to write the most important letter I’ve ever written to myself.
I reviewed this letter on a daily basis for several months. Suddenly when my work was criticize, I felt like I had tools to combat the negative thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong, this by no means happened overnight. But I knew I had to believe what God said. Without His words in my life, I would have not only been fired, but also left in a very very dark pit.
Looking back now, I realized how important that lesson was in the long run. Eventually I got to a place in that job where not just my work was called into question, but also my character. Because God helped me differentiate the criticism of my work and an attack at my character, I knew when I needed to leave. That lesson as hard as it was, was actually a saving grace.
I was reminded of this lesson again as I was talking to a friend. It’s so easy to let what we do become who we are. And although we should do our work with excellence, it is not who we are. We are so much more than a 9-5.
We are made in God’s image. He is a creative God. He is an intelligent God. God has a will. He has emotions. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He made us each with incredible gifts that He wants to use. So let me say it again because I need the reminder too. You and I are more than what we do. We are spoken for, died for, loved on and fought for. You’re not a number in a million. You’re unique. You’re special and I am anxious to see what God does with each one of His children.