“We don’t think you’re the right fit for us.”
I had hung up the phone hours earlier, but those words kept ringing in my ears. It didn’t matter that the woman on the other end of the line used a gentle tone. It didn’t matter that she had some really nice things to say about me: “We really like you, and we think you have a lot of potential.”
Suddenly, the only thing that mattered was that I wasn’t “the right fit.” Her remarks set loose a fury of repressed insecurity inside of me. It’s the kind of insecurity that – at my age – I thought I was so over. The thing is, self-loathing doesn’t discriminate by age. It will prey on you, even when you think you are Teflon against it.
In that moment, I was not Teflon. I was 12 again.
In my rejected heart, all I could hear were words that the woman didn’t actually say: “You’re not good enough. We picked someone else, someone better. And it’s not you.”
The completely crazy thing is, I had spent the previous two days at a Christian women’s conference about how we label ourselves. But I wasn’t in the audience of that conference. I was the speaker leading the conference.
Um . . . hello.
At that conference, I was encouraging others to tear off labels they’d been wearing too long. Labels like bossy, bimbo, weak, fat, stupid, boring, out-of-touch, childish, unqualified, unfit. I spoke these words into the microphone: “You are not that label. You are a daughter of the King. Let no label stick to you unless it was put there by God.”
Let me tell you, girl, there was freedom in that room! Holla! We all put on new, God-approved labels, like it was our job. With hands to the sky, all of heaven heard our battle cry.
Fast-forward two days. Now you see me here, alone in my kitchen, practically powerless under the tyranny of one sentence: “We don’t think you’re the right fit for us.”
My battle cry for freedom at that women’s conference felt like a faint echo.
This is what I’m pretty sure of these days. Behind closed doors, a lot of us are STILL the uncool, unwanted, never-enough kid of our youth.
That day in the kitchen, I could actually sense two people living inside of me (yes, I realize how creepy that sounds). Let me introduce you to them both: the uncool kid of my past . . . and the mature, Jesus-loving woman who knows what she’s actually worth.
The pull of both people was palpable. Which would I believe?
Ordinarily, in times like these, I simply do battle with that awkward kid. I send that kid off to detention at the middle-school principal’s office.
Not this day, though.
On this day, in the kitchen, I didn’t try to badger or bully or battle that insecure kid. She didn’t need detention. She needed love. So this is what I did: I opened up my arms. And I just held her. I stroked her hair. “Come here, girl. It’s okay.” That’s what I told her, maybe even out loud.
Then we prayed, that little girl and I. We prayed, right there in the kitchen. We dropped our head onto the kitchen countertops, took a deep breath, and prayed a prayer that went like this: “God, right now this little girl doesn’t feel like she’s enough – and neither does the adult woman who actually knows better. We both feel unqualified and unfit. But those aren’t the labels that You gave us. Can we have a new label?”
We waited. (There may have been momentary crickets. Moments like these are awkward, aren’t they?)
But then, behold: we felt a single word drop straight into our heart. The word was soft as a feather, weighty as a brick.
This was the word: “Wanted.”
I was wanted by God. We were wanted!
And friend? LISTEN UP: you are wanted. I mean it.
You have labels, too, don’t you?
Behind closed doors, you’re just a kid too. It’s okay. You don’t have to fight that sweet kid to re-label yourself. You can simply embrace her. The labels that are sticking to her? They’re the same ones that stick to you. Maybe those one-word labels sound like this:
Unwanted. Overweight. Worthless. Messy. Powerless.
God wants to replace them with these:
Wanted. Loved. Approved. Cherished. His.
If we’re going to let our whole life be defined by a single word, let’s make sure the word is a good one.
Question For You:
What label is the kid inside of you wearing?
Take some time today to ask God to replace the word with the one that He intends for you.
By Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of The Happiness Dare.