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Weighed, measured and found wanting

Are you familiar with the 2001 movie “A Knight’s Tale”? It’s a fun, slightly modern-twist on medieval Europe, taking inspiration from the Canterbury Tales, starring a then-relatively-unknown actor by the name of Heath Ledger. One of the most well-known lines from the movie is this: “you have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.” First said by the movie’s bad-guy to Ledger’s character, it is later turned-around and delivered back to the bad-guy when he is ultimately defeated in a jousting competition.

While this is the kind of line that makes good movie dialogue, it hits a little too close to home for this chronic people-pleaser. So often I convince myself that the rest of the world is weighing and measuring me, and I’m certain I’ve been found wanting. Here are a few of the things I tell myself:

  • Oh no, Janie and Allison got together for lunch and didn’t invite me, they must be mad at me.
  • My child’s teacher sent-home a note about her being cold in the classroom, I bet that teacher thinks I’m a neglectful mother who doesn’t dress my kids appropriately.
  • Oh gosh, I forgot to reply to that email from my colleague and now they’ve forwarded it on to my boss, they must think I’m totally incompetent at my job.
  • There’s that pile of “thank you” notes from Christmas, still waiting to be written and mailed, I’m sure my family thinks I’m the biggest ingrate that ever lived!
  • Yep, haven’t exercised in a month and gained another 2 pounds just looking at that King Cake. I bet everyone thinks I’ve just given up.
  • That latest blog post only had 10 people read it, no one really thinks I’ve got anything worthwhile to say, why am I even trying this writing thing?

Whether people really think these things or not, doesn’t matter because I’ve been telling myself that the world is watching every choice, every deed, every inaction and assessing me against them for so long that it’s become my truth. And instead of changing this inner-dialogue and considering maybe not everyone is passing judgement, I focus on trying not to care so much…on convincing myself that it doesn’t matter what others think of me. However, I recently realized trying not to care what others think is like trying to diet — it feels really good when it’s working, but as soon as you slip up you feel even worse about yourself than before. It’s not a sustainable way to live. It was watching my daughter that made me realize this.

You see, I have this beautiful, free-spirited daughter who is getting ready to turn 12. She is funny and vibrant and thoughtful and smart — so very smart. Since the moment she entered the world she has seemed to be confident that she was exactly who she was meant to be. And I have always admired that, sure that I never felt that confident about myself. But now that she is crossing that line — that simultaneously invisible and glaringly obvious line — between girlhood and adolescence, I’ve started to notice changes. The word “popular” is suddenly an adjective, verb and noun. The opinions of certain classmates have been given more power than they deserve. Both appearance and personality are coming under constant self-scrutiny. And my once self-assured, confident girl is starting to question if just being herself is good-enough.

…a friend tells her to settle down or others will label her as annoying

…a boy she likes tells her she is not pretty

…a teacher tells her she’s too slow at her work

…I tell her she’s irresponsible and unorganized

And maybe some of these things are said in love or with good intent. But what she hears is “you are not enough.” She starts to make a mental list of all of the ways the world is showing her that she has been found wanting. And the vibrant girl I love starts to change how she acts in front of friends. The confident girl I admire starts to doubt herself at every turn. The natural beauty begins to pick apart every feature in the mirror. And there it is, the beginning of a lifetime spent measuring herself against worldly standards. And I say no.

Uh-uh.

Not my daughter.

I realize, it’s time to change the conversation. I could tell her to ignore these voices, and not to care what others think. But my own wounds from years of fighting that battle are a reminder that it’s not sustainable. So instead I tell her this: God made you exactly the way you are supposed to be. He has gifted you with a multitude of talents and wrapped them in a giant bow of potential. And the only opinion that matters is His. The only standard by which to measure yourself is His.

Because:

  • God formed us in our mother’s womb to be exactly as He envisions (Psalm 139:13-14)
  • We are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
  • He gave us special talents (Romans 12:6)
  • And when we measure ourselves against others, we are missing the point! (2 Corinthians 10:12)

The world tells us we have been weighed, measured and found wanting. But the TRUTH tells us that we have been made in His image, are treasured, and loved without exception. 

And I pray that my daughter will grow to know this truth deep in her soul and never forget it. I pray that I might change my internal dialogue and lead by example.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

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10 thoughts on “Weighed, measured and found wanting”

  1. Jelise, I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I read this posting. It hits all too close to home as I have struggled with these same feelings my entire life. I just had a conversation at work about this a few days ago and told one of my co-workers that I thought that my 40s would bring me (grace me) with the wisdom and maturity to quit caring so much about what other people think about me… so far it hasn’t happened. I love what you said, that God made us exactly as we are supposed to be. The next time the negative self talk starts in my head (oh why can’t I shut that stupid voice up?!?!??), I will try to remind myself of exactly that. I so wish that I could hug you right now. I hope and pray that you are able to help Hannah learn this lesson at a young age and and am greatful to God that He gave her such a beautiful mother to love and guide her through the growing pains of adolescence.

    1. Lisa, Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. And especially for the kinds words. I think this is a struggle that a lot of people face, especially women. Having a daughter who is now starting to go through this it has finally hit me that telling ourselves we don’t care what others think just doesn’t cut it. It will only be once we place more importance on God’s standards than others that we will find freedom from the people-pleasing hamster wheel. But, reversing years of bad habits is not so easy to do! Love you!

  2. Oh, how I can relate to this post…it is like you looked into a part of my life. It has taken me over 50 years to come to love myself as the creation I am. I am a work in progress and will be until the day I draw my last breath. How I wish there has been someone in my life that had the forethought and faith to show me where my true value lies. Hannah is so blessed that you two can walk this path of loving acceptance together.

    1. Anita, thank you for reading and commenting. I agree, we are all a work in progress! But I’m so glad that you have also found the truth of where our real value comes from! God is good!

  3. So I know what you mean and most girls her age will feel that way no matter what. When I worked in middle school it was the biggest struggle for girls and boys to be liked. This is something everyone is searching for, approval. But when I start to feel that way, cause everyone does at times, I hear this song play in my head… In fact it was playing in my head the whole time I read your post… “He knows my name” by Britt Nicole. It essentially says we only need to live for Gods approval and he’s already given it to us! Btw Britt Nicole has a lot of songs like this, great for middle school girls, and 30 year old women 😉

  4. Yahweh sees us as he created us to be. He sees our potential for what he created us to be, his companions. It is hard to not respond to the world and its ways. We are called out to be set apart from the world (Egypt/Babylon) as a people of Yahweh. It takes effort and practice though to accomplish this regularly. That is why keeping the set apart days he gave us in Scripture is important. They help us practice being different from the rest of the world. They show the Father we are his by keeping his ways. Then he blesses us for our Faith in him and his instructions. I wish I had understood this when you were a little girl and had communicated it to you by leading our family correctly. To be different in Yahweh is correct. The word “holy” in English versions of scripture is “quodesh” in Hebrew. The definition is “set apart”. The Father calls us to be Holy as He is Holy. In other words he wants us to be “set apart” from the rest of the world in our thoughts, words, and actions. If you can show your children this by your own actions you will have given them a true gift. From this flows faith which is reflected in obedience to the Word.

  5. By the way In my whole life I have never seen anyone who is a better person than you my daughter. You have always made me proud of the way you lived your life. Your walk has, I’m sure, inspired many people who walked with you a ways. Yah has used you to reflect his kindness and generious spirit to many. Ease up on your self and follow the Messiah and leave all the rest to Yahweh.

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