When I Stopped Caring What People Thought

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I had lived for the approval of people for a long time. Carrying the burden of what others thought of me became my idol. Overanalyzing what people meant by their words and actions became a task I would do, and pretending like I didn't care was the message I tried to send. But deep down inside, my heart was heavy, because even if I was in the midst of 20 people, and only 19 liked me, I would focus on that one that didn't. I was too proud to admit it surrounded around insecurity. Too stubborn to take this issue before the Lord. Too enthralled with the idea of who I wanted to be and trying to prove my worth. I remember being a senior in high school anticipating the day I would graduate. As much as I loved my little Christian high school and sweet memories, I had gotten sick of the gossip and drama. I was sick of performing. I was sick of trying to be squeezed into a box I was never meant to be in, sick of trying to conform to their ideas. I realized that the more I tried to be like everyone else, the more lonely I became. I realized that the more I tried to be unique, the more I was gossiped about. I wasn't winning, and I was trapped into lies. Lies I held about myself internally and lies that others said. On the outside it looked like I had it all together. Don't get me wrong, high school was incredible. I met some of my life-long best friends, got to be a part of multiple sports accomplishments, had amazing relationships with teachers and grew in the Lord.

On the inside, I was hurting. I was dying to be free, dying to be the person the Lord wanted me to be. I was constantly in an internal battle, knowing that I was way too fearful to live out the dreams I've had, and knowing that I wasn't living the way that I should by living to the mold others wanted me to be. I wasn't pleasing anyone, and I was just simply losing battles left and right. So I anticipated the day of my high school graduation, knowing that from that day forward, I would get the opportunity to live the way I wanted and live the dreams that I had.

A month past high school graduation, I was still filled with fear. So I started fighting these battles, the way I should have a long time ago- I started fighting with prayer. The more I prayed, the closer to God I became. My battles seemed to pile up higher as a lot in my life was going wrong, but prayer became my biggest weapon. Jesus, again, began to be my foundation. I then began to find the courage to embark on the dreams I had.I started working at a nonprofit that I fell in love with. I opened an instagram shop to sell clothes and make more money. I started cutting out toxic friends and deeply pursuing the ones that made me stronger in the Lord. I applied to a summer program that would be all volunteer based, contrary to my fear that I wouldn't be able to financially provide for myself. I finally opened up my instagram to my personal world as well. I made a decision that I felt the Lord had placed on my heart that others simply did not understand. But as I made these decisions, I saw the difference in myself. You see before I truly tried to take courageous steps and make decisions on my own strength and for me. I found that the more I gave these fears to the Lord, and stopped pretending like I had it all together, the more the Lord took charge. It was as if the more I surrendered, the more His glory was shown. He was looking for a willing heart, and once I gave that to Him, He moved mountains and held back the waves. Through my submission, He showed His glory.

I found that the more steps of faith I took to expose who the Lord had made me to be, I found freedom. I found that the more I prayed, the more I received the courage to take those steps of faith. Prayer was the tool for victory, and Jesus made me free. I found that the more I walked in freedom, the more I found Jesus.

I don't remember a specific day when this transition changed where I did not live in fear of man, but I remember the instance. I remember somebody starting a conversation with, "Do you want to know what 'so and so' said about you?" Old, high school, fear driven Hannah would have said yes, wanting to know all of the details. Old, high school, fear driven Hannah would have tossed and turned all night about why 'so and so' said that. Instead, this Hannah said "no, I really don't want to", changed the subject, and didn't think twice.

You guys, when the Lord gave me the lens to see people as they really are, I stopped caring about their thoughts of me. You see, gossip, idle talk stems from insecurity, hurt, and people that aren't sure of their identity in the Lord. They are a people to be pitied, not to be embittered towards. In taking steps towards freedom, I found the confidence I dreamt of, the love of my Father I craved.

Y'all I am free.

Please do not take lightly when I say that the bold decisions I've made and the freedom I am experiencing is not at all because of me. I wish I could say the right words to exemplify the magnitude of how much of Jesus working on my behalf this shift was. I am walking in freedom from this fear, because He kept pursuing this stubborn heart of mine. I am walking in freedom because His love knows no bounds. I am walking in freedom because I am chosen, I am loved.

You are too. He's looking for a heart that is willing to surrender fears for His glory to be shown. Are you ready to be free?