Growing up, I was raised to be outspoken – speak my mind with confidence, which didn’t mean that what I said or thought was written on stone, but that I was allowed to express myself. So, naturally, I grew up to be a very confident girl, always speaking my mind. And, the positive reaffirmations I received added even more to my confidence. Unfortunately, this early manifested confidence led me to a lot of pain. People judged my confidence to be pride. And so, I was always attacked for being proud. Speaking my mind this confidently, to many people, could only mean that I was opinionated, thought highly of myself and that I thought I was something special. People who didn’t even know me would come out and attack me. They would say or do hurtful things to bring me down from my ‘high horse’.
Well, when we are young, we don’t always know how to deal with things. Naturally, I didn’t deal with the attacks very well. At first, I became very defensive. I maintained an ‘I don’t care what they think’ attitude. It was more of a façade than an attitude really, since I cared very much about what they thought of me and was very hurt by it. But, the strategy helped me cope. Then at 16 years old, I came to know Jesus. I came with a need for acceptance, and of course, I immediately found the acceptance I so desperately needed in Him, which is why He is and always will be so precious to me. I, of course, expected that the acceptance would extend to my fellow brothers and sisters. But, sadly it didn’t.
Even in the church, I still found that people judged me. “You are proud, Motlatsi. You need to humble yourself before God,” they would say, as a way of advice. If I could trade a pound for every time I heard these words, I’d be rich. Now, the difference is, unlike my fellow peers at school, these were people I looked up to, so there was no way I could adopt the ‘I don’t care what they think’ attitude. I respected them far too much for that. So, I pushed aside the pain that comes with being judged and began praying, truly asking God to break my pride. If that’s what they were saying, I had to be proud, because why else would they say I was? These people were looking out for me and had the best intentions. The more I prayed, the less sense their comments made, yet the more I would hear those dreaded words. I cried myself to sleep for many nights, frustrated and disappointed in myself, because I believed their comments to be true. One day, I came up with a way I was sure would work.
I told myself every time someone would tell me that I was proud, or something similar, I would use that opportunity to rebuke myself. I would break myself down. So, in answer to their comments, silently, inside of me, I would whisper, “She’s right. Who do you think you are, Motlatsi? You are nothing! You don’t deserve this. This isn’t your place; put yourself in your place.” At the end of the silent tirade, I’d always feel so small and insignificant. My confidence lessened, and I believed I stood a better chance of being accepted by those around me. As I hoped, it took some time, but after a while, I stopped hearing those dreaded comments. They were replaced by positive comments. Finally! After a while, I was finally accepted by those I loved and looked up to. But, why didn’t their acceptance make me feel good? Why did I have such a distinct conviction that God didn’t approve of my change?
Find out in the next blog.