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Why I Couldn’t Love Popular People

Photo courtesy of Chris Ford via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Chris Ford via Flickr

The heart of my ministry has always been to love people well.

Before I was a believer, I wanted to love people well so they loved me back. After I was a believer … well, it sadly was the same motivation.

At my high school reunion, one of the popular girl/cheerleaders wanted to talk to me. She was part of the “mean girl club.” They tried to get me kicked off the Pom Pom squad, told a boy I wasn’t popular and he shouldn’t take me to a dance, tore my poems in pieces and pasted them all over the lockers and even got signatures to get me impeached from President of my Freshman class. I didn’t understand what I did to be a target. I always tried to win them over by being kind in return but it never worked. As she began to talk tears welled up in her eyes as she apologized to me. She said I was always nice to them and they were just jealous of me. I was so surprised!

For years, I let their treatment of me determine my value. I was afraid of entering new relationships with popular people. I made inner vows that I would only invest in relationships with people that felt unseen too. I made judgments that said popular people weren’t safe.

What I believed actually drew me to have more experiences that met my expectations.

I later dated someone of influence in the field I was in. He told me he loved me but he didn’t understand why no one else liked me. He didn’t want me to attend a function with our friends because he needed to focus on his work … and when they rolled their eyes at me, it would distract him. His gentle tone made me believe him. I started to distrust others and avoid deep relationships outside of him. After I broke up with him I found the courage to ask one of those friends if it were true. They said they did roll their eyes … but it was at him for how he treated me. They said I was always nice and it bothered them that I stayed with him.

Life went on and I came to know that I was enough in Jesus. I was fully accepted and loved by the Creator of the world.

Then I went into ministry.

I served as a worship leader at a church and then a director of a program working with Christian artists and events. I had to work with people who were “popular” all the time. I remember when I had to speak at a luncheon with the Dove Award nominees. I was terrified they’d think something badly of me and talk about me behind my back. I knew that was a lie that the enemy was trying to get me to believe, but the years of my experience with popular people said differently. Then I had to speak on a stage at Disney World’s Night of Joy and then to 70,000 people at Creation Fest … I had dinner with some of the most popular speakers and musicians. I was always terrified they’d decide I wasn’t good enough to be friends with them. And I wasn’t as excited about these big speaking opportunities as people would’ve imagined.

It seemed my history was tormenting me and telling me it would repeat itself. Because I wasn’t healed in my soul, I still struggled with fear of popular people. I was in bondage to fear of potential rejection.

Then I had an encounter with Love. God came in and hid me. He gave me opportunities to seek His presence and find out what He thought of me. He rewrote my past experiences by showing me where He was in those events and how He worked them out for my good. He showed me what lies I was believing about Him, myself and others. He told me His truth.

As I got free of lies I believed I started to thrive in my gifts and calling. In the past I had a drive to prove myself or win the affection of others. But now I have a drive to help others without any expectation in return. I’m not rattled if someone talks bad about me without cause. If they have cause, I’m quick to confront and apologize, knowing they can choose to remain in connection with me or not. Either way I’m going to be okay.

I’m sure some of you have had worse experiences than the ones I mentioned above (me too). As I meet with clients I hear all kinds of horrible and sad stories. The most tragic of all is continuing to live in restrictions because of that wounded place in the soul.

We must first love God and know we are loved by God. Then we must love ourselves and know we are lovable. Then we can love others without manipulation, expectations or demands. It’s for freedom sake that Jesus sets us free. It’s only in His presence that we find who we were made to be and have the power to walk it out.

I’ve dedicated my life to encouraging people to pursue the presence of God because it is there that they encounter the love they need. Giving love away is just a response to receiving the perfect love of God.

Here is one exercise you can pray through so you can have an encounter with Love too.

  1. Ask God which negative event in your life He wants to talk to you about.
  2. Ask God to show you what lie you believed because of that event.
  3. Repent of believing that lie.
  4. Ask God what is His truth?
  5. Ask God to show you how you have tried to protect yourself so it wouldn’t happen again.
  6. Repent of trying to protect yourself and tell Him you will trust Him to protect you.

A few weeks ago I had someone call me to tell me they were praying for me. They felt impressed that God was going to use all the jealous and untruths spoken about me to minister to others. As I released a blog post “A Big Problem In The Church Today No One Is Talking About,” I felt a holy boldness rise up in me. I wanted to encourage the Body of Christ that there is a way to overcome hurtful things they’ve experienced and live like Jesus. He too experienced betrayal, hurt, lies and persecution. He understands everything we go through. Maybe He will show you how it’s a set up for your future ministry too. No one can minister to others better than those who have already overcome. You give away what you have. So go get what you need from Jesus.

I pray you have an encounter with God that gives you what you need to heal, overcome and help others.

Love well. You were made for it.

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