The Upper Room devotional reflection for Monday, January 10, 2022 comes to us from Michelle Laura Heed of New York
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18 NIV
My family and I are serving as missionaries in Tanzania, Africa. I accompany my daughter Olivia to school in a bajaji (a three-wheeled tut-tut taxi). Most days, the drivers are quiet or make small talk. But one day a driver berated Olivia for having substandard Swahili. He barked at me for not having taught her better. We dropped Olivia off at school. Later, I told her, “I’m sorry that the driver was so mean to you” She looked at me in confusion. Mean to her? She hadn’t even noticed. I was amazed. Perhaps she felt safe enough in my presence that any criticism or accusation did not affect her.
Oh, how I want that assurance! I want to walk through life confident that my divine parent is in charge and knowing that criticism won’t matter because I rest in God’s truths. In John 5:44 Jesus gets to the heart of the issue. It is our Creator who determines our identity, not our critics. So, we can allow God’s words to matter more than accusations from our critics. We obtain our worth from our heavenly parent who loves us.
I confess that I often take criticism to heart in ways that make me feel less worthy or competent. I am working to hear constructive criticism as a gift. When I receive that as a gift, I can avoid defensiveness and acknowledge that I can always learn to improve in large part because I am a beloved child of God. Also, I am trying to remember Olivia’s attitude and trust in God’s love for me so that when someone is generally critical, I can move on without feeling somehow “less than”.
Dear God, help us to root our identity in you rather than what others say. Amen.
--Michelle Laura Heed
Thought for the Day:
I am God’s beloved – that is what defines me.
Jesus said, “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” John 5:44 (NIV)