This morning, I read a blog post written by an undergrad who’d been accused of plagiarism by her professor. She wrote on the obstacles she faces as a first-generation college student and U.S. citizen, and how superiors in her field of academia don’t expect her to be capable of achieving above and beyond the many accomplishments she’d already worked incredibly hard for. They assume she isn’t smart enough to grasp complex ideas, or to write scholarly and engagingly enough for her class assignments. This is, of course, a systemic problem with deep roots. But what struck me the most about her post was the fact that she felt “invalidated.”
How many of us have ever doubted “ourselves, our abilities, and our aspirations” based on other people’s opinions, as she did? I would guess that the number would include all of us. It is so ridiculously easy to let other voices infiltrate our emotions and influence our thought processes. We hear opinions from all sides, all the time: from friends, co-workers, employers, family, peers, society, media, and perhaps from what could be worst of all – ourselves. We allow the resulting doubt to fester in our minds until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We wonder, Wait… can I really do that? Am I really that capable? Do I really have that talent? Is this really what I’m supposed to do?
I wish I could’ve personally encouraged this young woman in her academic journey. But mostly, I hope that one day she is aware of the beautifully-created person she is, and that it’s her Creator’s pedigree that gives her complete worth. There will be days for all of us when we need encouragement to combat the lies and doubt that constantly threaten to push us down. A few weeks ago, I came across a wonderful, short affirmation that I immediately copied down to my phone for easy access. For the times that any unwarranted voices try to wiggle in my ear, I pull this note up and speak right back to the offending voice, saying firmly:
I am the bride of Christ.
I am a co-heir with Christ.
I am a chosen, holy, dearly loved child of God.
I am more than a conqueror through Christ.
I am a temple of God. His Spirit lives in me.
I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.
I have the power of the Holy Spirit in me and working through me to do all things God has called me to do.
And who are you?
Kind of sassy, but absolutely true.
Times of doubt are times for refocusing on what matters. For me, that means remembering Whose I am and what that means for me as God’s daughter (our identity in Christ is pretty sweet, to say the least). It’s a process – the Lord’s been teaching me this past year not only how to recognize when my thoughts need to be reined in and refocused on His truth, but what I can practically do to guide my thoughts along the truthful path. There will always be those who underestimate, undermine, or undervalue who we are as people. But we can either accept it and let those opinions pull us down, or we can reject it, and let the identity given to us by our Creator raise us up.