“You see, we have a bucket inside of us,” She spread her little fingers across her heart. “When someone is mean to us, it empties our bucket. But if they say they are sorry or if they say something nice, it puts something back into our buckets.”
“Oh, I see… So if I say ‘Kamryn, I love you. You are so special,’ will that overflow your bucket?” Her face beamed as if to say, “Yes! You got it, Grandma!”
This story my grand-daughter heard in Pre-Kindergarten concerning bullying really touched my heart. So simple, yet so profound. Scoop by scoop, condemning remarks can empty us of our security in who we really are. We can start basing our value on what others say instead of who God says we are.
We can become our own bully when we believe the lies cast on us by others or by Satan: What is wrong with me? I’m so ugly. I’m so dumb. I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve to be happy. I’m not worth it. I’m not strong enough. I can never do it as well as he/she can, so why even try? And on and on… Shovelfuls of the “me God created us to be” go flying out of our buckets until there is nothing left to give.
Do you beat yourself up a lot? I’ll admit I do. I have a hard time liking myself. I wonder if it’s prideful or selfish to be kind to myself. But I am learning inch by inch that it’s not only ok to love ourselves, but it’s what God wants. This is not about self-adoration or narcissism. It’s about appreciating the unique person God created us to be. Holley Gerth, in You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You, writes:
“When you wound yourself with your words, it’s the same to God as if you were doing it to someone else in your life. Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means all of the ‘one another’ statements in Scripture (i.e. be kind to one another, encourage one another) apply in our relationship with ourselves too.”
So how can we be kind to our own buckets? By filling them with Truth. A solid, secure Truth that no one can take away or damage. The Truth in Jesus:
- I am precious and honored.
- I am His masterpiece. He has created me anew in Christ Jesus, so I can do the good things He has planned for me already before birth.
- I am His royalty, a crown of splendor in His hand.
- I am His jewel, His special treasure.
- There is no condemnation for me when I belong to Jesus.
- Nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
- Because of His faithful love, I will never perish. His mercies never end.
- He will restore my ruins. He rebuilds what is empty or damaged.
- He fills my emptiness with good things.
- I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength.
When our buckets are grounded with Truth, we are better equipped to handle critics, both past and present. Then our identity, who we were created to be, will be intact and indestructible. Then the gifts God has created us with will be resurrected and polished, ready for use. As Emily Freeman writes in Million Little Ways, A: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live:
“How we handle critics could be the difference between creating art that matters & allowing the art to die.”
We can’t always control the inward and outward critics in our lives, but we can learn to handle lies by replacing them with Truth. We can’t let the lies smother the God-given art within us. If we create art that matters, we will make a difference in the lives of others. If we allow Jesus to fill our buckets with His healing, the gifts He has given us will bear fruit. If we allow Him to fill our buckets with His love and Truth, our buckets will overflow into the lives of those around us.