Is Listening to What God Says About You Wrong?

Spending time in God’s Word has become very important to me. I find myself drawn to Scripture that tells me who I am in Him and how God feels about me.

I wrote about a verse Jude a few weeks ago that tells us we are beloved, called, and kept.

Twice I’ve written about how knowing we are clothed in His righteousness makes me believe blanketing myself in shame is something God would hate. (link 1 & link 2)

I spend a lot of time thinking about how God feels about me. I even changed my Instagram name to knownseenliked because I needed to focus my head and my heart on the true identity that God knows me, sees me, and likes me.

All of this focus on me feels wrong. I get a little sting inside that says, Shouldn’t you be focusing on who God is?

Is it wrong? Is my sting right? Should I be focusing more on God and less on me?

My youngest Hezekiah does this really cute thing, but it hit me yesterday that it was very telling to how our brains work as human beings.

Every time I say something complimentary to Hezekiah, which I try to do because I want his 3-year-old heart to know he is amazing and loved, he rejects what I’ve said and tells me his name — which he adorably says as Kia.

Here’s how the conversations go:

Me: “You are such a good boy.”

Hezekiah. “No, I Kia.”

Me: “You are so cute!”

Hezekiah: "No, I Kia!”

Me: “You are a good brother.”

Hezekiah: “No, I Kia.”

Spider man fade, listening to God, identity.JPG

I laugh every time. His insistence that his identity is just his nickname hasn’t stopped me from telling him all the things he is in my eyes. As a parent, I want more than anything to nurture love and kindness in him towards others and himself.

As humans, it is not easy for us to accept positive comments. We are protective and defensive. We easily accept criticism without question, but we are skeptical of praise and complements.

I know this because I had a Christian counselor tell me that I was doing this. He made me start writing down things people said to me that were complementary. It felt silly, but I did it because I wanted to get better. I was so mentally unhealthy, berating myself with negative self-talk.

Earlier this year I saw Curt Thompson speak at the IF:Gathering, and he presented the brain science behind the principle of accepting compliments differently. He shared that research shows that it takes our bodies about 3 seconds to absorb and believe a negative comment and about 30 seconds for us to absorb and believe a compliment. He encouraged us to not push away and deflect a compliment out of humility or false humility because when you do that, you have no chance of ever accepting it. He asked us to take a deep breath and let those kind words that were just spoken about us sink in. He asked us to go back to those words later in the day when we had time to really let our mind believe those words.

If this neurobiologist, psychiatrist knows it is important for good things said about you to be absorbed and I as a parent long for good things said about my children to be absorbed, then can we agree that God wants the good things He has said to His children to be absorbed?

It is important that we listen to the good things God says about us, and I’ve come to believe that that small sting inside of me that says I should only be focused on what is said about God is evil shame that does not want good for me.

Shame is the enemy that keeps us blind and in a corner. It keeps us from connecting to others and sharing our faith.

Obviously, we need to commit time to learn God’s character, and what we believe about God must line up with what Scripture says about God.

This knowing God does not mean knowing how God feels about us is then unimportant. Don’t skip absorbing what God says about you because of humility, false humility, or shame.

God says you are Beloved. God says you are known. God says you are seen. God says you are liked, friended, and included. God says you are chosen. God says you are called. God says you are commissioned. God says you are kept.

New Head & the Heart song this week. Ekkk!

If you’re interested in reading Curt Thompson’s work, he has published these two books:

Day 2: Skiing

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

It makes sense to me that I would have issues with trying to impress God because when I was growing up, impressing my dad was so important to me.

My dad was the one person I wanted favor from the very most, maybe because I knew my mom approved of me.  She told me often how proud she was of me.

I remember the scene.  I was a 6-year-old girl, and my dad was teaching me how to water ski.  I honestly didn’t have a huge desire to be pulled by a boat across the choppy, Texas lake, but I knew my dad would be proud of me if I could do it.  So I was trying my hardest to take it all in.  I had my legs pulled into my chest, and I was doing my best to keep those heavy, kid-sized, wooden skis pointing up.  “Keep your arms out, keep the skis underneath you, and let the boat pull you up,” he said repeatedly, hoping the repetition would let the proper form sink into my thoughts.

I had been pulled by a boat before.  At 5-years, old my neighbor friend and I had rode a board pulled slowly behind our boat together.  We had even stood up, in an exercise in bravery.  I’m sure I was feeding off her courage, because she was a whole year older, clearly much more grown up.

We have home videos of this us on the board, standing together, watching the scenery change around us and waving to the camera.  When we would watch these videos at home, my dad would brag.  “Look at Jennifer,” he would say, “she’s only 5 and she’s out there standing on that board and waving.”

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my dad would be proud of me if I could get my little, uncoordinated legs to stand on those two curved planks of wood.

I wanted it so bad, not because I thought it would be fun, but because I wanted to hear my dad praise me.

I don’t remember how many tries it took before I finally was able to quit swallowing disgusting, brown lake water and make it up to standing.  I do remember how much my arms hurt.  The motor boat my dad wasn’t anything impressive, but it had enough kick to really pull.  A few times I let it pull me right over my feet, and there was no choice, the force pulls you off that rope quick.  Several times I would begin to make it up, really pulling hard, and I would fall to the side, the water spanking my thighs.  The thing is, you really can’t pull yourself up.  Just like my dad had said, you have to let the boat pull you up.

I tried so many times that my dad began to ask me, “Are you done?  Do you want to get back in the boat?” as he would swing the boat back around in a big, wave-inducing circle.

Whenever you fail to launch or fall, you are left on your own in the middle of that deep, murky water until they get turned around to come back to you.  I know the first few times I was terrified.  What if a boat came and didn’t see me?  What about those creepy, beady-eyed Alligator Gars?

After a few tries, I quit being scared and was thankful for the time it took for the boat to get back to me.  I would put on any skis that had fallen off as quick as possible so I could lay back and float on my back, letting my aching arms and stinging legs relax their muscles for a few seconds.

The question would come, “Are you sure you want to try again.  You look pretty tired.”

“No.  I can do it,” I would tell him.

In a clear miracle that we should all just praise God for, the form finally clicked.  I felt my legs find steadiness as I slowly straightened them out, as the boat pulled me to standing.

I was doing it.  My dad would be proud.

I have water skied so many times during my childhood, and I have even done it a few times as an adult.

It has never been that fun to me.  Sure it is a little fun.  When the lake is smooth, you get up quick enough to not feel like your arms are putty, and the boat takes a slight curve to send you sailing out to the left or to the right, over the wake, you feel like you are flying.  That is fun.  If I am being honest, that was such a low percentage, I don’t know if any of it was worth all the effort.

Other people love skiing.  My dad has a blast.  My brothers loved being adventurous and trying tricks.  It is possible to think it is just the most fun ever.

For me, it was never about that.  I hope my dad isn’t too disappointed to know that I didn’t fall in love with it like he did.

This memory is the clearest, earliest example of how I fell into being a good girl.  I would not only try my very hardest to never do anything my dad wouldn’t approved of, but I would also do anything that would make my dad proud of me.

When I became a Christian, I treated God the exact same way I had treated my dad.  It isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is childish.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
— Corinthians 13:11-12 ESV

It isn’t only childish, but it also isn’t the free life Christ died to give me.  I want that life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
— John 10:10 ESV

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I like to include a song with each blog post for you.  I almost never listen to country music, but it was such a big part of my childhood and there ain't nothing wrong with this.

Day 17: Home School



Before James and I were married, we talked about having kids.  We talked about how James thought it would be a good idea to home school.  James had been home schooled most of his life, and he thought it was the best option.  I vigorously disagreed.  At the time, I had just had an ideal public school experience.  Almost every teacher I had was a Christian.  My biology teacher showed us Fantasia the week she was suppose to teach us about evolution.  My school was medium sized, not so small that we had subpar teachers, but not so big that I had gotten lost in the crowd.  Some of my teachers were even neighbors.  I had Christian friends.  There was a lunch time Bible study that I could attend.

     James and his sister Anna home schooling in the 80s, before it was cool.

     James and his sister Anna home schooling in the 80s, before it was cool.

Fast-forward to actually having a child.  When our daughter was 3, there is about a billion places I wanted to put my baby girl before I stuck her in a classroom.  I had a little cub.  I was a momma bear, and my protective side had been heightened.  My daughter was advanced verbally, and I knew she was ready to start learning how to read.  I decided that I would just teach her some pre-school.  A year later, I realized I had done too good of a job with our pre-school.  I knew that she wouldn’t fit well into a mold of organized learning.  She would be either board in a kindergarten class, or if I convinced a school to put her in 1st grade, she might be behind.  Because she was a little sponge who learned quickly, she could possibly be board in a 1st grade classroom as well.

I decided to home school her for 1st grade and see how that went.  By that time, we had found a home school group.  We had a weekly outlet for making friends, playing, and fun learning activities.

Every school year ended the same.  I would look at our options, and it was clear that home schooling another year was our best option.

     My favorite home school picture ever.  Our middle child doing Kindergarten in a Snuggie.

     My favorite home school picture ever.  Our middle child doing Kindergarten in a Snuggie.

No one ever told me how much home schooling would change me.  I had to have faith in the fact that God was going to give me the ability to teach my children.  Every year has been an exercise in faith.

Every year has been an education for me as well.  I’ve learned Bible history, phonics, literature, and spelling right alongside my kids, as I filled in gaps in my public school education.

About five years into home schooling, I decided that I would go back to school and finish my master’s degree.  I had to go take a standardized test similar to a SAT to apply for the masters program.

To my shock, I realized I scored better on the language portion of the exam than the mathematics section.  That had never happened to me before.  Part of the discrepancy was the fact that I had forgotten some of that upper level math I use to know.  But that wasn’t the whole reason because I had scored above average in both areas.  The fact was that my reading to my kids, teaching them to read, teaching them how to diagram a sentences, explaining unknown vocabulary had actually improved my language arts proficiency to a higher level than it had ever been at while I was enrolled in any formal education program.

I ended up only taking 4 classes out of the dozen I needed to earn my masters degree.  I realized I didn’t want to be a CPA.  I wanted to be at home with my kids reading books, at least for that phase of my life.

Home schooling also did something else for me personally.  I became part of a community.  I made home school mom friends that encouraged me.  I was asked to be a treasurer on the home school association’s board.  That meant that I got to know the other members of the board pretty well.  They were good friends to me.  They were prayer partners when I went through some rough stuff.  They threw me a shower when I had my yurt baby.  They shared their struggles with me so I could see that everyone has struggles, even those of us that look good on paper.

     Our home school table in the yurt.

     Our home school table in the yurt.

Other home school moms opened their homes for Bible study, curriculum discussion, and seasonal parties.  Those ladies ministered to more women than most churches.

After nearly 5 years of group meetings with mom groups and our home school association’s mentor meetings, I realized I had been actively engaging in women’s ministry, something I thought I didn’t need or didn’t really want to be apart of.  Those times of ministry built up my confidence in my abilities to parent and educate the kids God entrusted me with.  Sure I learned about curriculum and education in those meetings, but more often than that I learned about God’s love, loving others, and how to grab hold of the fruits of the spirit when we want to grab hold of our hair and just pull it on out.

Now, if you’ve been reading this and you either don’t have kids or have no interest in home schooling.  Let me assure you that my philosophy is this.  First, we can learn from the struggles and joys of others, even if they are on a completely different path than you.  And second, how any parent chooses to educate their children is a complex, vulnerable decision.  The golden rule dictates that I should never question that decision.  I have full confidence in someone else’s ability to make that tough decision for themselves.  God equips me to parent my children.  And dear reader, God equips you to parent your children.

My husband and I like to laugh.  There is this famous morning radio bit that we often joke about, especially around autumn.  The radio DJ does his best over-enunciated pastor’s voice and tells the listeners about the haunted house that his church will be hosting.  One of the scary features of the tour will include “children who are public schooled.”

I know a joke is good when it hits on a nerve of truth.  The home school community is notorious for making public school out to be the devil (or at least the bad guy.)

This doesn’t accomplish much, other that make our side feel spiritually superior.  And feeling spiritually superior is the opposite of humility, a trait that we are called to as Christians nearly a hundred times in scripture.

I don’t think this egotistic attitude is out of cruelty.  It usually stems from our insecurity as home school moms.  As a home school mom, my greatest struggle has been convincing myself that I’m enough, that I’m doing a good job.  Tearing down the other side is the short cut in propping ourselves up.

I’ve been as guilty of this tearing down as the next gal.  It’s a physical struggle I face.  When the opportunity comes, I have to take all my energy to keep my mouth closed and redirect my thoughts.

But the better work comes in looking to my loving Father and my gracious Savior to remind me of my value, my competency, and my worth.

If that message doesn’t resonate with the non-homeschooler, I don’t know what does.

What about you?  Where are you struggling to see your worth?  Where do you need to have faith in yourself, as He works in you, or in your Creator, Savior, Sustainer, Equipper, and Sanctifier?

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV




If I don't include a Tim Hawkins song, I might loose my home school club card. is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!