"Rejoice with me for I have found my lost sheep."
DAY 24: Fear of Not Being Liked
"I really don't like you." This is what one of my students wrote to me on a teaching evaluation at the end of the school year. Ouch!
Out of 100 evaluations from my 8th grade students, I am so grateful that I would often get 99 positive ones and only 1 negative one. What would I focus on? The negative one.
Here is where the fear of not being like would take over--Why would that one student not like me? What could I have done differently for that one student? What could I have done better?
With as much time, energy, blood, sweat and tears I put into teaching these students, how could any of them have anything negative to say? I loved each and every one of them, how could even one not like me?
God has given me such a big heart for others. I never met a stranger, and I genuinely look for the good in everyone I meet. I feel incredibly blessed that even with all the mistakes I have made in my life, I will never regret how I treated others. Especially as a teacher, I always treated every student with love and respect. I really cared about each and every student like they were my own children, which is why I would be so saddened by that one student who didn't like me. I know it sounds crazy, but it really bothered me. I would literally beat myself up over that one student.
Slap me in the face...wake up! Many people would ask me, what about the other 99? What about their positive comments? What about all the love and encouragement they wrote to you? Why would you focus on that one student?
Because everyone matters. I wanted to make a difference in each and every person's life, and when one of them didn't like me, it hurt me badly.
I had to take a close look at this fear of not being liked.
God reminded me of the parable of the lost sheep from Luke 15:1-7
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!"
After He reminded me of this, I said, "See, God. Even You are focusing on that one lost sheep! I'm doing the same thing."
"No, My Child. I am focusing on a person who repents...who wants to receive My love and grace. You are focusing on someone who doesn't want to receive your love...who doesn't appreciate your respect. You're letting that one student distract you from the good I'm doing through you in the other 99. I love your heart for that one student. Continue to love that one student. Pray for that one student, but don't beat yourself up over that one student. Not everyone is going to like you even if you like everyone. Just as not everyone is going to love Me even though I love everyone. It's painful. Trust Me. I understand completely."
Here is where He surprised me;
"In fact, I challenge you to start celebrating that you made a difference in only one student's life even if you made no difference in the other 99!"
What? That would be horrible!
God was telling me that even if 99 of my students didn't like me...even if I didn't help 99 of my students...even if I didn't make a difference in 99 students' lives, it didn't matter. If I made a difference in just one life, I needed to celebrate that. I needed to find joy in that!
God helped me see the importance of one in a different way--not focusing on the one who I didn't reach, but celebrating the one I did!
That was a very difficult shift in focus for someone who likes to be liked by everyone, but there was also a lot of freedom.
Suddenly, I felt a lot of pressure lifted off of me and I began to truly understand that making a difference in just one person's life was incredibly significant. I understood completely that my mission was to make a difference in the life of one.
My fear of not being liked was gone. I will never be liked by everyone, but I can sure love everyone and celebrate one person...one student...one friend...one child...one mom...one sheep and change one life at a time!
Are you ready to let go of your fear of not being liked? Are you ready to look closely at how you can start by making a difference in just one person's life?
PRAY WITH ME:
Father, today, I give my fear of not being liked to You. Continue to give me the eyes to see that it's not about being liked but it's about liking all beings. God, thank You for giving me a heart who loves others so genuinely but don't let my fear of how others think of me or whether they like me or not cloud my vision for how You are working powerfully through me. Help me to see the value in making an impact on just one precious life. Lord, shine Your light into my fear of not being liked. Help me to walk boldly forward in faith knowing that it's Your mission to save the sheep who want to be saved and it's my job to love them whether they like me or not. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Dedicated to Chanel and R.J and the many other students who didn't like me no matter how much I poured my love into them. Thank you for keeping me humble and for teaching me that it's ok not to be liked by everyone, but that I'm to keep loving everyone anyway. Thank you to all the students who did accept my love and who did appreciate all the enthusiasm that I put into teaching. May God bless you all and fill you with His love!