“A person who cares nothing for praise or blame knows great inward peace….Praise does not make you holier than you are, nor blame more wicked. You are exactly what you are, and cannot ever be any better or worse than that, in the eyes of God. Attend to what is really within you, then, and you will not care what others say of you. People look at externals, but God looks at the heart. They weigh actions; God knows your intent….To feel no need of human support and assurance is a mark of inward confidence – of those who truly walk with God in their hearts” (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)
I confess that even now I sometimes worry about what others think of me. I know most of you do, too. It’s something that’s ingrained in us in this very competitive, comparison-driven world we live in. But the truth of the matter is that most people aren’t evaluating you and measuring your merit as much as they are worrying about what you and others think of them.
There is great peace that comes with knowing who you are. When you know your identity and your calling, then you don’t need affirmation and you can handle the criticism of others. When you know that only one voice matters in terms of speaking into your core identity, then you can let the other voices go.
When you listen to the voice of your Abba that calls you beloved, then you don’t need to heed what anyone else says about you or calls you or says to you. Their words may wound, but they can never again shape or define you. Who you are is secure because of Whose you are. You don’t have to impress anyone. You don’t have to carry the facade of perfection. You can be honest in your shortcomings and brokenness, knowing that you are being made new.
Then you can have and know peace.