I’m sitting and I’m staring at something I wrote. Nobody else in the world has ever read it, nobody but me. My phone is on the opposite side of the room. My opinion of this is completely unmarred by anything else.
I’m proud of it. It’s completely me, unaffected by the fact someone else may think that sentence is ‘redundant’ or that word doesn’t fit. It’s completely, fully me.
I see opinions everywhere. To do with me, with books, media, science, religion, people I know, people I don’t know. Opinions are encouraged. But they can be damaging.
I care about opinions. I care too much. I let them affect most of what I do, in ways that it shouldn’t. In simple things like wearing a dress because I know other people think it looks nice on me, and in not so simple things like going for a run to deal with how the world tells me I should look.
My finger moves, and I click send. The poem I’ve written is sent off to an editor. In the world I sometimes inhabit, the writing world, you set yourself up to be judged every time you click that send button.
If I were to lie and pretend I was what I wanted to be, I would say that nobody’s opinion but God’s opinion mattered to me. I wish that was true. Every day I strive for that to be true. But it’s not.
What the editors of a literary journal think of my writing matters to me. What the person interviewing me thinks of me matters to me. What my friends think of me matters to me. And what the people who really, truly, know me think of me matters to me.
I know the truth. Lots of people know me. A few people know me incredibly well, better than I know myself probably. But there is only one who knows me really. God knows me in the fullest way possible. He knows my jumbled, unedited thoughts, he knows my immediate feelings, he knows my motivations and how they turn into actions. He knows my private persona and how that becomes my public persona. He knows who I am and how that differs from who I try to be. And he still loves me.
Why do I still allow myself to be defined by opinions of people who know me at the basest of levels, when God knows me at the highest possible level and continues to love me?
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Tim Keller
Other opinions aren’t always bad – they’re important. If I was stuck in my own head all the time then I would be prejudiced, closed to change, closed to progress, closed to joy outwith myself. I don’t want to be that person. But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for me to be at the other end of the scale and to base everything I am and do on what other people think.
Saying things theoretically always creates a good distance between believing them. I know what I’ve said is true, and I do believe it. But it doesn’t stop my habitual repetitive care about what other people think. But I’ll get there eventually, and that gives me hope. Because God knows me, really, truly knows me, and loves me in the fullest way possible. So I want to put less scope on what other people, my grades, and even my own mind say about me, and more on what God says.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” – 1 John 3:1