BY: KRISTEN FU
Maybe it’s because the Chinese American church taught me to be humble and unassuming. Maybe it’s because I was also taught to always put others before me, because God calls us to have a “servant heart.” Or maybe it’s because my best friends in middle school one day decided to phase me out of the group (which in those days meant everything), placing in the back of my head a poisonous fear that everyone I knew or met from then on would one day get tired of me.
Whatever it was, it haunted me. It told me that any sort of attention I brought to myself was prideful and sinful. It told me, You’re not that special. You’re just another quiet, Asian American girl, and sure you’re nice, but most people would rather be around others who are cooler, prettier, and more outgoing than you.
But I dealt with it. Since God wants me to love others while being humble and denying myself, that means I should think of myself less. And whatever it was, it convinced me that thinking of myself less meant thinking less of myself. It made me believe that what I had to say was not as valuable as what others had to say, so I rarely spoke up. It made me assume that people had a negative impression of me before I even met them, and that I wasn’t the type of person people were interested in getting to know or hang out with. It’s fine to not think you’re special. That’s just being humble.
But there exists another voice, a still small voice that can make itself known in pleasantly unexpected ways. The voice of God is something that I had heard pastors preach about on Sunday mornings growing up, claiming that it can be heard when one “quiets their heart” and “listens prayerfully.” However these phrases had such a vague meaning to me when I was younger that I assumed I would learn to hear His voice when I was older, making the other discouraging voice much louder to me.
Therefore as I entered college and was meeting new people left and right, in every introduction there laid that fear of not making a good and lasting impression. However at the same time, I found a Christian fellowship community that was structurally so familiar to me, and yet was so mind-blowingly different. It was different because I encountered and was led by people who loved God and those around them so much more vocally than I was used to. I wasn’t used to receiving so much affirmation in not just my faith, but in myself as a person. Words like “I want to hang out with you more” seemed so elementary but meant so much, and I really do believe that God was speaking those words of love and affirmation to me through the people I was meeting. Leaders and friends in my fellowship also loved themselves, and not in an arrogant way; they loved themselves as a form of praising God for creating us in His good and perfect image. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” So how could I profess to love others as a believer in God if I didn’t even love myself? Without confidence in who I am as a daughter of God, fear and insecurity grow inside and hinder the love that God has mercifully blessed me with to give to others.
So it is true that God blesses the humble, but humble does not mean self-deprecating. Above all I can find joy in the amazing and constant love He freely gives me, and that means loving the way He created me so that I can fully love others, without fear.