I remember when I told someone, who I considered to be a very close friend of mine, that I was thinking about starting a blog. I wasn’t sure what my blog would be about, when I would start writing it, or if I had the dedication to maintain it over time. I told her about my idea because it had been on my mind some time before I mentioned it to her. I told her about my dream because, in all honesty, I was uncertain about if I had what it took to make that dream come to fruition and I wanted reassurance. I wanted to hear someone tell me to get over my fears and go for something I was passionate about. I mean, because after all, isn’t that what best friends are for? But do you know what the first words out of her mouth were when I told her? “Girl, you know ain’t nobody gonna read your blog!”
I laughed it off but inside I was hurt. It wasn’t that crushing hurt that’s enough to make you lock yourself up in your room, crying while listening to old Mary J. Blige songs and eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I felt the hurt that you feel when someone says something that’s just enough to chip away at your self-esteem. The hurt that you might not notice or will disregard if you’re not really paying attention. The hurt that will slowly kill your dreams, choke out your confidence and stifle your purpose if you don’t stop it. Have you ever been hurt like that before? Maybe it’s your boyfriend who constantly compares your body to other women or constantly criticizes the things you do. Maybe it’s that parent or sibling who’s never satisfied with any of the choices you make in life. Maybe it’s the frienemy you have who smiles in your face but constantly talks behind your back. They don’t ever hurt you enough to make you leave them, or if they do, they’re back in the picture before you know it, but that’s exactly what makes them so dangerous to your dreams.
God created us to have a need to feel acceptance and validation from sources outside of ourselves. God knows that we have an innate desire to be encouraged, uplifted and loved by others. However, the enemy knows that too. The enemy knows that if he can surround us with people who only partially accept and validate us, while they constantly chip away at our self-esteem over time, then he has us right where he wants us. He knows that if he can surround us with those who provide us with a false sense of security and acceptance but really doubt us and our potential, then after a while we will begin doubting ourselves, too. And once we start doubting who God created us to be, that leaves the door wide open for fear, shame, depression and other issues that prevent us from seeing our true worth and value. And when we don’t see ourselves as the “fearfully and wonderfully made” creations that we are, then that will keep us from doing what we are truly called to do.
That’s why we have to be careful with who we allow in our circle and who we share our dreams with. We have to be careful who we turn to for unconditional love and acceptance. Looking back, I realize that the “friend” who told me nobody would ever read a blog I started, was never really a friend to begin with. That wasn’t the first time she’d made negative remarks about me or the things I was passionate about pursuing. Since the beginning of our friendship she’d made countless comments that took shots at my self-esteem and chipped away at my confidence, but they were so subtle that I rarely noticed it. On the rare occasions that I did notice it, I brushed it off, or even worse, actually thought that what she was saying held truth. Thankfully, God brought me to a place where I could truly see the how detrimental her presence in my life was. Needless to say, we’re not really friends anymore. It’s not that I hate her or anything, but that day I realized that I loved and valued the dreams that God gave me more than I valued being accepted and validated by her, or anyone for that matter. It definitely hurt to let go of someone I considered to be a close friend, but I know that it would have hurt me far more, in the long run, to hold on to a friendship with someone that makes me doubt my own purpose.
I can’t lie. I still want to hear encouraging words from friends when I’m feeling shaky about stepping out on faith and pursuing one of my dreams. I still long for acceptance and validation from others, but I’m learning to seek God before I seek anyone else. I’m finding out more and more that He is the true source of the unconditional love and acceptance that I crave. He’s the only one who can give me the reassurance I need when I’m filled with doubt and uncertainty about my dreams and my purpose. And who is better to consult about my purpose and potential anyway? He is the One that gave me my purpose in the first place and who knows all about the potential I hold far better than anyone else.
So I said all of that to say this, take some time to evaluate the people that you’ve been sharing your hopes, dreams and goals with. How do they typically react when you share the things that you are passionate about with them? Do they uplift and encourage you to go after you dreams? Do they pray for you and with you as you step out on faith to pursue you passion? Or do they belittle and criticize your dream? Do they discourage you or create doubt about whether or not you can be everything God has purposed you to be? If you have people in your life who seem to be tearing down your dreams more than seem to be building them up, it may be time to remove them from your life. Also, take some time to evaluate yourself. Do you depend on people whenever you need reassurance or do you depend on God? When you feel uncertain about pursuing a endeavor, do you get down on your knees and seek counsel from the Father, or do you pick up the phone to hear the opinions of people? If you find that you rely on others more than you rely on God, it may be time to seek Him, repent for putting people in the place where only He belongs, and ask Him to build your dependence on Him. You may have to make some adjustments to yourself, your circle, and your relationship with God, but it will all be worth it in the long run. Your dreams and the purpose God has given you are far too valuable and precious to be chipped away at and discouraged by anyone. You owe it to yourself, and most importantly to God, to surround yourself with those who will help you build up your dreams, instead of constantly tearing them down.