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.
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.
- 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