by Anita Miles
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
There’s an old adage that goes something like this, “we wouldn’t spend as much time worrying about what other people think of us if we realized just how seldom they do!” That makes me chuckle because more than once I’ve heard people say out loud that because of someone’s reaction or “look,” they perceived something completely opposite of what the other was thinking. And sometimes their entire day is ruined over what they thought someone else thought! I’ve probably been there a time or two myself...
Particularly on the paternal side of my family, we have the ability to be completely in another world in our thoughts. Our “look” or expressions may be completely unrelated to what is in front of our noses. There has been more than one time, my husband has asked me if I really heard what he or someone else was saying because I was just standing there nodding my head at something that I had a completely different view on. And the truth is, I didn’t hear a single thing that was being said. I’ve tried very intentionally to be cognizant of all of my surroundings simply because of my inherited tendencies, but VERY often, I miss certain things because my thoughts are in a different place. And as hard as I try, sometimes I simply cannot change that about myself.
All of that being said, I’m afraid that sometimes we make choices based on what people think of us (or our perception of what they think) and their opinions of what we do. Sometimes those are good, sometimes those are not so good. And it seems like the power of that influence is getting stronger in young women at younger and younger ages. I believe this drive is probably attributed to the availability of social media to young girls / women. Unfortunately, the downside to that is how the self image, mood, and attitude ship is going to sail on any particular day. Many times it is dependent on how many likes or thumbs up or down are received on their next post.
For other women, the need for approval and “love” is also misplaced when other humans fail to meet expectations or needs in relationships and friendships. That “need” for some has probably worsened over the past year due to the limited amount of socialization because of restrictions. Those devalued feelings may be even more exaggerated than normal for this reason.
All of these misplaced thoughts and perceptions come about when there is a shift in the appropriate foundation of where our value comes from. Mind you, I do not underestimate the need for human relationships and affirmation, but those will never be sufficient if the core of the soul is not content in knowing that we are enough. Our soul must always rest in knowing that we are valuable because God says we are. If this truth is not the basis on which all other relationships flow from, we will spend our lives exhausted from trying to please everyone and have very few authentic relationships. If this truth is the basis by which we live, all of the other relationships are just added benefits to a fulfilled life.
I’ve said this over and over to the young women that I’ve taught through the years - whatever affirms you is what controls you! This is why we must teach our daughters at young ages that their value is not in the superficial aspects of life. It’s not in clothes they wear, the cars they drive, or what others think of them. Their value must not come from how many times the heart button is hit on their Instagram or Facebook pictures and posts. If so, their entire lives will be driven and diverted easily by whatever affirms them in a temporary world. We must cultivate young women to be much deeper than this relationally. If we can help them wrap their heads around the fact that God is the chief giver of their affirmation, we are setting them up for a life of success. This will make a HUGE difference in their marriages and for them as young mothers.
So regardless of what everybody else is thinking or what they aren’t thinking (and you think they are), here’s what the psalmist said about the thoughts of God towards us….
“I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”
Psalm 139: 14, 17, 18
This particular scripture was a required memorization that our mom gave my sister and me as young women. On the days I’ve awakened moody and grumpy and questioned the value of who I am, this scripture has flowed out of my heart. Somehow when you are familiar with the thoughts of God, the thoughts of man become a little less important and no longer control the way our day is going to go.