Growing up, one of the hardest things that I had to deal with was other people’s idea of who I was; who I was supposed to be. The daughter of one of Dayton’s most popular preachers, I was expected to always have the proper attitude, to always behave, and to always come across as if I had it all together.
I must admit, there was always an enormous amount of pressure resting on my shoulders. The weight was almost unbearable, nevermind the pressures of just being a kid. While other kids were going to football games, and trying out for cheerleading, I was at church, or in noonday prayer. So, when it was time to attend school with these same children, I was already in the position of outcast, at least in my own mind.
That left me with two roles to play: PK, and outcast. Needless to say, there was zero room for me to just be myself. In church, I was the “solo singing, tambourine jingling, hand clapping, praise and worship the Mighty God” daughter of Pastor M.Heard. At home, I was the middle child who could do nothing right. And, at school I was the girl who tried so hard to be neither that she ultimately stayed in trouble, and was labled “class clown”. I had no clue who the real ” Janet” was. And, no one ever asked.
I didn’t realize it then, but I was just like any other kid. My environment, the people around me, had me convinced that I had to be someone other than who God had made me to be. And, in all my innocence, I thougt the best thing to do was to try and accommodate their wishes. But, that left me lost. I was lost to myself, and lost to God’s true plan for me.Who can be what God is calling them to be when they are worried about what other’s think of them?
Oh, the growing up I had to do to come out of that frame of mind! The things I had to go through…all the drama I allowed myself to endure before deciding that enough was enough! Being a preacher’s kid was not a death sentence on my life, and it was high time I learned that.
Romans 12:2 KJV reads “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God”. Had I studied the Word more, had I been as consumed with God’s Word as I was with thoughts of what people were thinking of me, I would have had this thing figured out a long time ago, and I would have spared myself so much more pain.
But you know what? With a renewed mind I can declare that God doesn’t want us to serve Him because our parents made us, or taught us to. He doesn’t want us to come to Him because everyone else thinks that’s where we should be. God gave us all the freedom to choose. And, as sad as it might be to say out loud, we cannot know God’s goodness until we have gone through enough hell to recognize it. Also, with a renewed train of thought, I realize that how I felt then was just a part of growing up. And, I may have felt like an outcast because I was different than the other kids. God called me out, and that made me different. He gave me the special gift of learning, and knowing of Him at a young age, so that I would have a rock on which to stand through what was coming to me as a young woman. I had no clue what I was going to have to withstand, but God did!
Oh, I’m so grateful today. I’m not as miserable as I once was. And, I love being myself! Me plus God is a great combination! The world had a few lessons for me: Be grateful for daily mercies, God makes no mistakes, and everyday is a gift that can be snuffed out at anytime. Worrying about what other people think mutilates the self esteem, and puts the soul in a position to die, for man’s judgment will forever bind, and trap, and enslave, and torment, and fear, that which it does not understand. God’s judgment is the only one that counts. I have a true testimony: my life. Now, when I see people looking at me all crazy, and wondering what it is about me that’s so different, I say with a smile “Jesus makes the difference”! And for that alone, I am grateful.