Who Are You Listening To by Emma Mae Jenkins
Seeking my first love, I rise in the morning and God embraces me in His grace that is sufficient. As the soles of my feet hit the floor, I go to the foot of my bed and spend time with Jesus. I delight in His Word that is breathed by Him. He reminds me of Who He is and who I am in Him. I dwell in light and armor up in truth, for I also know that without question, the moment I rise, flaming arrows of deceit and attacks of darkness are coming.
My phone lights up with notifications and as many of us do, I get so excited to go and see what I am being notified about. Picking up my phone and going to social media, I don’t encounter the notifications that anyone would be hoping or expecting to see. I post pictures and videos about Jesus and how beautiful He is, and how He changed my life and how much He loves His people so unconditionally and recklessly. The videos that I post are filled with God’s truth and encouragement, and songs and joy.
Then there are the comments, though. The comments say that my singing makes ears bleed. The comments say that my eyebrows look like caterpillars and that my nose is too big. The comments. They ring loud and clear that I am brainwashed and that my faith is a fairytale. The perverted and disrespectful words sting and hurt. The comments say that I am crazy odd, and that I need to tone it down a little and that I love Jesus too much. People are tagging other people for simply the gratification of laughing at me together. I have been called an “annoying religious Disney princess”, “cringy”, and words so filled with hatred, that I didn’t even know those words existed until I had been called them.
The comments say that I need to be quiet. The comments say I don’t need to live anymore. They mock. They bully. They laugh. They poke. Like stones, they aim and throw a comment here and a comment there to see how they can make me fall. Sometimes, I wonder if the writers of these comments realize that there actually is another person on the other side of the screen. Another heart reading these words that have so much potential to tear apart. I have found myself sometimes looking in the mirror with all of the comments racing through my head, and wow…it would be so effortless to believe them, and sometimes in my human feelings, I momentarily do. Sometimes, even knowing that God is receiving the glory for it, I can’t help but cry because joy doesn’t always look like a smile.
But here’s the reason I keep going: I might get notifications full of these hateful words, but I have already been notified of God’s Word! My phone may have lit up with notifications devaluing my identity, but it came too late because before the beginning of time, my God spoke light into my identity. In the morning when I rose, God notified me with Who He is and who I am in Him already. This morning when I rose, I armored up in truth. Therefore, anything that comes my way that does not align with His Word, I speak truth over it. How is it possible that I can do this even when thousands of notifications come packed with rudeness and wickedness?
BECAUSE I HAVE ALREADY BEEN NOTIFIED AND APPROVED!
When I read the comments that I am not pretty, or my eyebrows look like caterpillars, or my nose is too big, I back it up really quick, and take note of what voice that is coming from.
I remember the comment of my God that declares I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am made in His image.
I am “the head and not the tail, I am the top and not the bottom”
I am “all together beautiful, beautiful in every way and “enthralling in the eyes of the Lord.”
I am the apple of God’s eye. I am His masterpiece.
I am clothed in strength and dignity.
I am chosen, holy, and dearly loved.
I am His treasure, called by name and filled with a greater joy.
I remember that I have already received the notification from God that “I don’t have to fear or be dismayed, because He is with me and He is my God, and He will strengthen me and help me and uphold me with His righteous right hand”. I remember that I have already been notified that “I am not here for the approval of people, but of God”. I have already been notified that I am made without shame and because “the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” I am reminded that I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
The notification that “the Lord is my Shepherd and I lack no good thing” rings louder. He rejoices over me with louder singing, and quiets the storm of doubt in my heart with His love that never fails. I am squeezed on all sides, but not crushed because His hope is an anchor firm and secure in me. The notifications of the world still come and advance against me, I will even then be confident because my identity is not in the fickleness of society, but the foundation of truth.
If I allow what people say to determine how I act and decide who I am, I will be inconsistent and never become all that God designed me to be. If I fall into believing that I have to have every person like me, thinking that this is what “keeping the peace” means, in actuality I am allowing the enemy to rob the peace within myself.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, it says that “the Word of God is God-breathed, and it has been made profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In this way, no matter the comment, I am equipped with truth to keep going and remember that I am in the world but not of it. I am equipped with the joy of the Lord that is my strength. I am equipped in the promise that in my weaknesses His strength is made perfect. And I am also equipped to even love the very ones who speak hatred over my life.
Hurt people hurt other people, and people are not my enemy. Those who send comments of discouragement and mockery don’t know how loved they are yet. What an amazing opportunity to love! For anyone can love those who love them back. When I began to see myself the way that God sees me, I couldn’t help but see others the way that He sees others. Jesus had every right and reason to quit on us and to give up on us, and not love us because of how we turn from Him and choose darkness instead of light, but He didn’t. And because Jesus didn’t give up on me when He had every right to, I will not give up on people, especially those who give me every right and reason to. Because Jesus raised me up, I choose to live my life lifting up others with His love that never fails, and truth that sets us free. The world tells us to love those who love us back, but to hate our enemies, but very truly Jesus tells us to love our enemies. To pray for those who persecute us, and to bless those who curse us.
Jesus came to this earth knowing that there would be those whose response would be in hatred, yet He still loved them. Because it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me, I pick up my cross, follow Him and love the world as He so loved regardless of the response. Jesus said that if the world hates you, remember that it hated Him first.
Not only does God’s Word equip me with strength to see myself as He sees, and receive His notification of my identity, but He also gives me the strength to continue speaking His notification and validation over the very ones who notified me with lies. Seeking my first love, I continue to rise in the morning…for there are still hearts that don’t know how loved they are. That in itself empowers my heart to press on. I rejoice being counted worthy to suffer for the Name that commented His approval on my heart before time began. WOW! This makes my heart smile bigger than my face can. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, including being the original Emma Mae Jenkins that God made me to be!
I can smile, dance, love and sing, and keep on posting and keep on speaking and keep on writing because I have already been notified.
What comments are you listening to?