I don't remember the first time someone said it. But I do remember how I felt.
It was some version of, “You're intimidating.” I took it as you make me feel bad.
Then it was, “I used to dislike you, but…” and I didn't hear anything after dislike you.
Later on, in motherhood, it was always some version of you're intense, I didn't like you until I met you, you made me feel bad about myself… and no one ever stopped to ask how those words made ME feel about myself. That didn't matter. I was the problem. I was the one who had to make herself smaller, because who I was was always too much. I spent years cringing and cowering, feeling too big for the room, too “together” (even though I had plenty of weaknesses and failings), too… everything.
So I made myself smaller. I wore clothes I didn't like because the ones I did like were too “fancy” for my Midwestern world. I slouched instead of standing tall. I even apologized for the inconvenience of having to spell my name – years of being told I was too much, that I was the source of others' insecurity, made even my own name seemcumbersome. “I'm sorry, it's a lot," became code for “I'm sorry, I'm a lot.”
But one day, Galatians 1:10 jumped off the page:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I realized – perhaps for the first time – that by internalizing the insecurities of others I was taking responsibility for something that was not mine to bear. I was not – and am not – here to please people. I am here to please Christ. And if I am truly pleasing to Christ, my character will bear the fruit of His Spirit. I will not be unloving, proud, divisive, condescending or rude.
But even so… some people still won't like me. I will still be misunderstood.
Two comments were made this week. The first was well-intended, as most of these comments are, but it brought back waves of past hurt: You're an intense personality. In other words…
You make me feel bad.
You are too much.
You can't be you and be accepted here.
That's where my mind wanted to run. I had a choice in that moment: Allow insecurity about being “too much” dictate my response, or allow Christ and His truth to overwhelm me.
Preach truth to the lie.
It IS a lie. It is. The comments spoken out of insecurity, well intended or not, are daggers of an enemy seeking to destroy our souls. When we let the words of people dictate who we are (or aren't), reacting to and against them, we're simply servants of men.
The lies I believed as a teenager and twenty-something were these:
You're a bad friend.
No one really wants you.
You'll never be accepted.
You have to earn God's love, and He's probably angry at you.
Like wheat and tares, my God-given personality grew alongside the lies, intermingled and intertwined. It was hard to tell what part of me developed because of the lie and what part was really true to God's design. But as I grew deeper in my walk with Christ, the division became more clear. I began to discern why “You intimidate me” cut so deep, hurt so much. It reaffirmed the lie: You'll never be accepted. You're the problem. Your personality is unlikeable, unwelcome, unwanted.
And at first, I took it all as gospel. Until the gospel showed me this was wrong.
The perceptions of people are not always true. In fact, they're often very wrong. Our insecurities blind us to the goodness in others; we put our selves and our own fears at the forefront. Too often we don't see people as they are. We see them as affronts to who we want to be. We view people through the lens of our own lack rather than seeing them as image-bearers of God. And it goes both ways. We speak our lack over others; they take it, consume it, dwell on it, and become the very thing they fear.
Truth is, I'm not a bad friend. I try hard. I fail sometimes. And my truest friends are gracious, patient, and kind for my lack.
Truth is, I am very wanted by my husband, my kids, my community and most of all, my God.
Truth is, I'm unequivocally accepted by Christ and I have the privilege of accepting others.
Truth is, I don't have to earn God's love and I'm under His never changing favor.
The other comment was also in passing, but it was a far different tone. It was in context of advice about something I needed to do - something hard, something I felt doubtful in my ability to do.
“You'll handle it well,” They said. “You're a gentle soul."
My heart paused and the tears welled and I wondered why – why did such a sentence impact me this way? It spoke to my spirit like a balm. I felt seen. I felt believed. I thought of the other words I'd heard that impacted me similarly:
I love your podcast. Your voice brings me peace.
I feel more equipped to disciple my kids.
Thank you for encouraging me that I can be strong, I can do this.
The words sunk deep, clung to me, because they were counter to the lies.
You're a gentle soul healed you're too much.
Your voice brings me peace healed you're too loud.
I am equipped healed you're too together.
I can be strong healed you're not raw enough.
Maybe the very things you were told were a liability, the things people said were “too much”, are the very things that will bless the person ready to receive it. And as for the ones not ready to receive what you are doing, what God is doing in you – you don't need to accept their condemnation. They don't know how their words intertwine with the lies, and they don't have to. But you can counter it all with the truth.
Are you trying to win the approval of man, or of God? You can only choose one.
You might be misunderstood. Your strengths might be seen as liabilities. You're probably in need of as much sanctification as I am. But don't let someone else's view of your lack determine whether or not you follow Christ confidently. One day, a human will recognize who God made you to be. Until then, rest in assurance that God sees it.
And He's not intimidated by you.
Topping my favorites this list is our “new to us” sectional. I shared about this story on Instagram, but for the last ten years we've used hand-me-down furniture from friends, thrifts, and my first apartment. I styled them as best I could but always hoped for the “look” we've finally achieved. This sofa is from FB Marketplace (my fave!) and it exactly what we've waited for.
The Peaceful Piano playlist on Spotify is one of my favorites for during our morning routine. I start it on our Sonos speakers when I make coffee!
Peppermint Pinwheel is back in Nespresso!If you have a Nespresso Vertuo and like flavored coffee, this is such a subtle, fun holiday pod.
Homeschool Made Simple Podcast with Carole Joy Seid. I recently found this podcast and I have really enjoyed it! I especially liked her interview with Russ Ramsey and her episode on teaching children to be lovers of art.
I mentioned this board book series a few weeks ago, but they are worth another mention. Ivan asks for What Are Mouths For?every single day. He absolutely loves it. Whether or not it is sinking in remains to be seen, lol!
Question: Does God punish us if Jesus took our punishment?
A: Jesus took our condemnation. This does NOT mean we are free from the consequences of sin in this world! God still permits/allows consequences for our sinful choices (e.g. getting arrested for a DUI, losing a job because of lack of integrity). This episode breaks down the difference between condemnation and consequences. (This is an important topic because some gentle parenting proponents are erroneously teaching that God no longer gives consequences, and therefore parents shouldn't either).
Question: Reformation Day or All Saints Day?
A: As I have articulated, we celebrate All Saints Day. We do this because Reformation Day celebrates only one small portion of church history, and while it was necessary at the time, it led to the division of the church in a bloody time in history. All Saints Day, conversely, celebrates “all the saints” – all the missionaries, teachers, pastors, and great Christians of the ages. We choose the latter.
Question: What is the NAR?
A: The NAR stands for New Apostolic Reformation. It is a term coined by C. Peter Wagner to describe a loose movement of churches within the charismatic/Pentecostal tradition. It is NOT a denomination and most churches labelled “NAR” would not call themselves that. It is a scholarly/outside term applied to them. In cessationist circles the NAR has become a blanket term to describe most charismatic churches, whether or not they are in fact operating in unhealthy patterns with the spiritual gifts. More on this here
At Home with Phylicia
October is historically the busiest month of our year, and I am relieved to be in November. While the rest of the world might be gearing up for the holidays, November and December are my slow seasons - aside from the manuscript that's due January 15th! My goal in November is to be home as much as possible (which is ironically hard and requires intentionality, despite being work at home/homeschooling parents!). Some things we are trying to do this month….
Reaffirm our margin schedule: We set this in January and we keep revisiting it, adjusting and coming back to it. If you recall, we set this schedule to minimize our evening commitments. It looks like this:
Monday: “Free night”; hobbies, reading, Josh or I can go out with a friend.
Tuesday: Small group. We meet with four other families and their kids.
Wednesday: Date night out or hobby night with the kids.
Thursday: Game night; either Josh plays with friends, or we play as a fam.
Friday: Hosting night, or if we don't host, movie/game night.
Saturday: Family movie night. We are loving the new James Herriott show!
Sunday: Planning night to go over the week, meals, homeschool, etc.
Prep/plan our homeschool routine: I noticed I lost a lot of time prepping for our school day. Last year I was forced to do more preparation because I was tutoring a co-op class. Without that I've gotten a bit lax! Now I'm using Sunday nights to:
Print out any relevant worksheets for our CC week studies from the Sandbox in CC Connected.
Compile all our read-alouds for history and science.
Order any ingredients for science experiments/activities.
Look over our nature study for the week (Exploring Nature with Children)
Compile our morning time read-alouds from my customized list (I use both CC's weekly study schedule and Ambleside Online's)
Batching work tasks: This is historically very difficult for me because no two days are ever the same, and I am often interrupted in my work time unless I leave the house. I am attempting a more structured work time by theming my work days:
M: Ask Anything on IG & write this newsletter (each of these take several hours)
T: IG deep dive + manuscript writing
W: Day in the Life on IG + batching reels and social media posts
TH: Product recs on IG + writing and podcast research
F: Bible in a Year Club research, documents and videos, admin tasks