“We don’t think you’re the right fit for us.”
I had hung up the phone hours earlier, but those words kept ringing in my ears. It didn’t matter that the woman on the other end of the line used a gentle tone. It didn’t matter that she had some really nice things to say about me: “We really like you, and we think you have a lot of potential.”
Suddenly, the only thing that mattered was that I wasn’t “the right fit.” Her remarks set loose a fury of repressed insecurity inside of me. It’s the kind of insecurity that – at my age – I thought I was so over. The thing is, self-loathing doesn’t discriminate by age. It will prey on you, even when you think you are Teflon against it.
In that moment, I was not Teflon. I was 12 again.
In my rejected heart, all I could hear were words that the woman didn’t actually say: “You’re not good enough. We picked someone else, someone better. And it’s not you.”
The completely crazy thing is, I had spent the previous two days at a Christian women’s conference about how we label ourselves. But I wasn’t in the audience of that conference. I was the speaker leading the conference.
Um . . . hello.
At that conference, I was encouraging others to tear off labels they’d been wearing too long. Labels like bossy, bimbo, weak, fat, stupid, boring, out-of-touch, childish, unqualified, unfit. I spoke these words into the microphone: “You are not that label. You are a daughter of the King. Let no label stick to you unless it was put there by God.”
Let me tell you, girl, there was freedom in that room! Holla! We all put on new, God-approved labels, like it was our job. With hands to the sky, all of heaven heard our battle cry.
Fast-forward two days. Now you see me here, alone in my kitchen, practically powerless under the tyranny of one sentence: “We don’t think you’re the right fit for us.”
My battle cry for freedom at that women’s conference felt like a faint echo.
This is what I’m pretty sure of these days. Behind closed doors, a lot of us are STILL the uncool, unwanted, never-enough kid of our youth.
That day in the kitchen, I could actually sense two people living inside of me (yes, I realize how creepy that sounds). Let me introduce you to them both: the uncool kid of my past . . . and the mature, Jesus-loving woman who knows what she’s actually worth.
The pull of both people was palpable. Which would I believe?
Ordinarily, in times like these, I simply do battle with that awkward kid. I send that kid off to detention at the middle-school principal’s office.
Not this day, though.
On this day, in the kitchen, I didn’t try to badger or bully or battle that insecure kid. She didn’t need detention. She needed love. So this is what I did: I opened up my arms. And I just held her. I stroked her hair. “Come here, girl. It’s okay.” That’s what I told her, maybe even out loud.
Then we prayed, that little girl and I. We prayed, right there in the kitchen. We dropped our head onto the kitchen countertops, took a deep breath, and prayed a prayer that went like this: “God, right now this little girl doesn’t feel like she’s enough – and neither does the adult woman who actually knows better. We both feel unqualified and unfit. But those aren’t the labels that You gave us. Can we have a new label?”
We waited. (There may have been momentary crickets. Moments like these are awkward, aren’t they?)
But then, behold: we felt a single word drop straight into our heart. The word was soft as a feather, weighty as a brick.
This was the word: “Wanted.”
I was wanted by God. We were wanted!
And friend? LISTEN UP: you are wanted. I mean it.
You have labels, too, don’t you?
Behind closed doors, you’re just a kid too. It’s okay. You don’t have to fight that sweet kid to re-label yourself. You can simply embrace her. The labels that are sticking to her? They’re the same ones that stick to you. Maybe those one-word labels sound like this:
Unwanted. Overweight. Worthless. Messy. Powerless.
God wants to replace them with these:
Wanted. Loved. Approved. Cherished. His.
If we’re going to let our whole life be defined by a single word, let’s make sure the word is a good one.
Question For You:
What label is the kid inside of you wearing?
Take some time today to ask God to replace the word with the one that He intends for you.
By Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of The Happiness Dare.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
So true that just when we’re feeling confident in our identity in Christ, the enemy comes a prowling. He doesn’t want us getting too comfortable in our God-made label. He wants us back in that insecurity where we are so disabled we are useless for building God’s Kingdom. The label I wore was that I was “overly emotional and too sensitive”. I can’t count the number of times I was told to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve. In a world of very stoic people, I seriously thought there was something wrong with me. Little did I know that 40 years later, God would use that same compassion and sensitivity to build a school for children who live in one of the scariest parts of the world. I can feel their pain. I sense their fear. I cry with them when they are afraid. God is using the very thing I thought was my weakness to be my strength…He’s funny that way. I pray that others who are letting the enemy get his foot in the door with his “you’re not enough garbage” would ask God for the power to slam the door shut and, like you, ask God for reassurance to love the little wounded girl in ourselves and go forward knowing we are loved and delighted in. Loved this, Jennifer and I can’t imagine you not being a perfect fit anywhere?? Love you girl!
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
I love that, Bev. When you allowed yourself to be your TRUEST self, God took that “thing” that others saw as a weakness … and used it to build an incredible ministry. Powerful, my friend! xo
Summer Rae says
Dearest Miss Jennifer,
Thank you so much for sharing the words our Heavenly Father has laid on your heart. This past year, in one way or another, has been chalked full of breaking through the “labels” that I thought made me who I was… and I’ve come to realize that most of those labels were self-inflicted, or so to speak. One comment from someone or a slip up can cause us to put ourselves so low that we can’t even see sea-level… and once we finally do make it to the shore and realize that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, wanted, enough, beautiful children of The King (that takes us right where we are) we can feel this immense pressure to be “on” all the time to uphold those labels and make sure everyone can see them too. But, if you truly are living a Christ led life all of this will come naturally and Christ’s “approval and opinion” are all that will matter. It is so important (and I constantly have to remind myself) to rest in His grace. I am enough, just as I am, because HE says I am. Thank you again for posting this, it is nice to have a reminder that it’s okay to have harder days, we all do… but, take it to God and not dwell in it.
This side of Heaven,
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Oh Summer Rae … Can I ever relate to that feeling of having to be “on” all the time. So very exhausting! Thanks for sharing your heart with me. <3
Loved this, Jennifer. It’s so true. We may give excellent advice that we believe and embrace, but sometimes it’s very hard to apply it to ourselves! My handicapped daughter age 36 got a rejection letter for a job she applied for. I printed this out for her. ANd I printed it out for my son who struggles sometimes. And I printed it out for me! We are all God’s children and we all need to hear we are loved and ENOUGH.
Just as we are. Then that gives us the power and motivation to be be better. To glorify him more!
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Oh Jan … I am so glad that these words spoke into that place in your heart that needed to hear it most! I needed to remember it too. Maybe I should print out a copy for myself! 🙂
Jeanne Takenaka says
Oh my goodness, Jennifer, this post. What life-giving truths you shared here! All my life, I’ve struggled with the deep hurt of the peer-rejection that defined my elementary school years. My label was “not-enough.” It shaped my growing up, teen, young adult, even “I-should-know-better” adult years. And yet, those lies implanted into my girlhood heart shaped how I saw myself. It’s taken YEARS to begin to overcome. And, like you, I usually send that girl to the corner when her lies, her wounds, pipe up into my grown-up thoughts. Sometimes though, we need to acknowledge that those labels are there. We do need to bring them before God and ask for healing. I love the word God gave you. And I love your encouragement to give ourselves permission to cry, to deal with, to pray over those wounds and labels. Thank goodness God meets us in those places and speaks life-giving truth over us.
I can’t tell you how much this post resonated this morning. Thank you.
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Your words mean so much to me. I’m glad this post encouraged you. And in turn, your words encouraged me. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much for posting this. I can relate as I’ve experienced several of those calls in the past. Thankfully God brought me a job that I’ve been at for almost a month now. I did feel something similar yesterday, I think the label was unsure and insecure. Thank you for explaining about putting on the label God gives us. I will ask God what specific label He has for me.
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Glad you found the courage to pick a new label — straight from your Maker. xo
Your words were sweet balm, especially when you gave your 12yo self a hug and encouragement. Instead of fighting myself, I need to speak biblical truth to myself, and you painted the perfect word picture.
Thank you for sharing!! Reminds me exactly of these verses, 1 Peter 2:9-10:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Amen to that! HE chose us and called us, and His name for us overrides the world’s name for us. Amen and praise be to the Lord! ❤
Melissa Henderson says
Everyone should read this message. Very powerful! Thank you. 🙂
Rebekah Warden says
I really needed to hear this today! You defined what I’m feeling and going through exactly. The child who had been labeled with lies and the adult who knows that the lies are just that lies. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story it is a huge encouragement for me read your struggles and to see how God is helping you and knowing that God will help me.
Wow! Wanted…Loved…Approved…Cherished…I so need to cling to ANYONE of those. Let it sink deep! Let the power behind it, the power that can only come from God, work! This morning, just before I got out of bed, I was praying and literally handing over to God some of the labels that just keep returning. Over and over I pictured in my mind handing over various identifying statements that have nothing to cling to in His truths. “I am ugly.” “I am unlovable.” “I am not……..enough.” And on and on and on…handing each of them over to Him and repenting for believing them and not Him. So thankful for your story and for sharing it! I will take time to not just hand those labels over, but replace them with ones God intends for me.
Michele Morin says
Thank you for this — so well-timed, as I, too, have been feeling the sting of that word: unwanted.
And , of course, I don’t even need Google Translate to expand it into “Not Good” and “Not Enough” and a whole host of synonyms — all an affront to the God who made me and who also orders my circumstances.
Your post was very uplifting Jennifer, thank-you.
Have a blessed day,
I am not the red-headed stepchild. I am HIS! All His. He planned me, gave me to my parents, even that step one. But I am only and always just HIS. ❤
Thank you for your words today. Geesh, I didn’t even know I needed to say this to myself or shed a few tears. But HE did. Oh how I love Jesus/Abba/Holy One!
Jennifer thank you so much for your words of encouragement. God has been speaking this same message to me. We have to continually go to Him and breathe life giving words over ourselves and others. Bless you for your honesty. Pray for me too as I fight against feelings of inadequacy, of not being enough, of being unloved.
Marty L. says
Whew! Pow! Bam! Lots of tied up emotions in that truth. Off to go hug my uncool inner girl.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Perfectly timed to interrupt my pity party.
Thank you – both for admitting you’re human too and for the sharing, caring, loving way you lift others out of our depression and ‘stinkin’ thinkin.’ I needed that. <3
Thank you through the tears that came as I read this. I spent some time today with my lovely sisters and came away feeling not cool enough, not organized enough, not self-disciplined enough, not thin enough … I’m still that little girl so often, even though I’ve lived for five decades. Thank you for this reminder, Jennifer.
I feel the same way with my sister! So amazing and I am 50 also. How interesting. Thank you for sharing this, it helps in some way to know that maybe my feelings I struggle so much with are not so unusual after all. I just so wish it was not so! Thanks again and may we see who Jesus says we are today!! 🙂
Yes! Thank you for your comment. Maybe part of feeling “enough” is also not feeling alone in our feelings. May you be blessed with new eyes to see yourself as God has made you … perfectly enough!
THE LORD’S RICHEST BLESSINGS TO YOU DEAR JENNIFER. YOU ARE SO SPECIAL AND THE LORD , IS USING YOU IN A VERY PRECIOUS WAY. WHAT THE ENEMY MEANT FOR EVIL, GOD TURNS IT ALL AROUND FOR HIS GLORY. I CAN CERTAINLY RELATE TO WHAT YOU HAVE WENT THROUGH. I AM 63 YEARS OLD- AND STILL GOING THROUGH THE INNER CHILD FEELINGS AT TIMES. I LIVE IN A NURSING HOME AND HAVE PARKINSON’S DISEASE, FIBROMYALGIA, HEPATITIS C, AND ARTHRITIS IN MY HANDS. I HAVE ALSO VERY LOWTHYROID LEVELS, SO I HAVE GAINED 90 POUNDS IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS. I WEIGH 230 POUNDS. THE INNER CHILD SCREAMS OUT THAT I AM SO FAT AND UGLY AND USELESS FOR GOD’S KINGDOM BECAUSE OF ALL THE OTHER DISABILITIES. I AM ALSO IN A WHEELCHAIR. AT TIMES I SENSE THE LORD’S PRESENCE SO VERY STRONG AND HIS LOVE JUST BEING POURED OVER ME AND THEN AT OTHER TIMES EVERYTHING SEEMS SO DARK AND COLD. THE SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS INTENSE AT TIMES. I AM AN INTERCESSOR, ENCOURAGER, AND UPLIFTER FOR OTHERS FOR THE GLORY OF GOD, AND I AM CRAZY IN LOVE WITH JESUS, MY BRIDEGROOM.HE IS MY ALL IN ALL. SO I WANT TO ENCOURAGE ALL MY SISTERS OUT THERE THAT YOU ARE A PRECIOUS JEWEL IN GOD’S CROWN, AND YOU ARE A FOREVER GIRL. FOREVER COMPLETE AND LOVED IN HIM AND BY HIM AND FOR HIM. I LOVE YOU ALSO, THANKYOU JENNIFER FOR BEING JUST WHO YOU ARE MEANT TO BE- ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED. SHALOM WENDY MACDONALD
Jennifer thank you so much for your words of encouragement, I really needed that. God will help me in this area to speak life to those labels were self-inflicted.
Thank you for this beautiful post, Jennifer. I love the imagery and vividness – it certainly brought back memories of the young me too, hiding in shame and then trying too hard to overcome the label “Worthless”. I love the idea of holding onto that child and comforting her, instead of shoving her aside… I’ve got to try that the next time she creeps in next to me!
Well, I needed this one today. Who knew? Thank you for writing this and for sharing your heart.
Rebecca L Jones says
Thank you Jennifer, great post. I know as a sensitive girl and woam, this labelling has haunted me. I reread the sort of afffirmations and even made a Pinterest board. I needed to know I was loved I won’t wear any labels but what God gives me ever again, he calls me Hepzipbah, beautiful, beloved.
I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the wonderful messages that you send. So many times I feel like I am alone in feeling the way that I do and that I’m not ” good enough”. I feel like I am just a … preschool teacher. I know how much I cherish my jobs as a teacher, mother and wife. Your words and thoughts lift my spirits up and make me realize how important I am to God. Thank you. Oh… please come to Syracuse, New York to speak. I would love to come to your conference!!
I have a label for you and it’s “real”. I find you and your words very refreshing and quite frankly a relief. Maybe you are meant for plain gals like me. Thanks for being relatable. You are a great fit for me.
Shelly Miller says
Couldn’t have said it better myself. She’s the real deal!!
Jennifer Dukes Lee says
Wow! Thanks so much, Lisa and Shelly. That means a lot! xo
I have been carrying hurtful words all week. This was some balm to my soul. I sense the hope of healing. Thank you.
So true and beautiful. Thanks for reminding us that it is alright to struggle over our identity. That this struggle will be a many time faught battle. I believe, oops, help my un-beleif. My new word is beloved. A word my friend and I came up for her was, always good enough.
I am reading this late but with God nothing is never too late and always comes just in time. I sent this to my niece to encourage her after she received news that she not accepted into her school’s nursing program. She is WANTED some where else if she still wants to pursue a career in nursing!
Jennifer, you struck a cord deep within me. Labels from the past linger and latch onto our souls too long…a lifetime if we let them. I love your word picture of you stroking the head of the sad you. The unwanted you. I seen my little sad-girl self there too. Two weeks ago I wrote a similar post. Unwanted was woven through my words. Even after writing my unwanted word post and talked about our Cross-Freedom in Christ when you wrote the words, “This was the word: Wanted” hot springs welled up in my eyes. Me too! Yes! No matter the age and stage of life nothing cries out of us more than being wanted. Thank you for your beautiful words of truth and encouragement.
Stacey Pardoe says
Jennifer, this is a brutally honest depiction of the battle most of us face. Doesn’t it seem that immediately after the mountaintop moments, Satan slips in and aims to take us down? I love your example of extending grace to the awkward, hurting little girl inside yourself – of praying with her and reassuring her. In our efforts to live out our identities in Christ, it seems we often focus on claiming the victory of being children of the Most High God (and we should), but we forget to extend grace to ourselves. Walking out our true identities is a progressive learning experience, and there are setbacks along the journey. I need to remember this the next time self-doubt and shame slip in. Thank you for the reminder!
Renee Swope says
Thank you for being so raw, so real, so vulnerable. And thank you for inviting me to the table to listen and pray with you and your girl. I adore you friend. You are smart, amazing, wanted and more than enough! And when I’m with you, I feel like I am too.
Julie Garmon says
Kelly R Smith says
Thank you for this encouraging post, Jennifer! I think I could read this once a week. I especially love “Let no label stick to you unless it was put there by God.”
Jenn @GoingByFaith says
Awww this was such a sweet and needed message for me! It’s interesting how we can feel tempted to believe that those old labels still apply; that we must keep them in our lives for some purpose or reason. And what a great opportunity to trust God that we are free from all that, that we have truly been made new. It’s a battle we all share. Thanks Jennifer… keep (in)couraging!
Beth Williams says
The story you told is soo very true of many women, even me! Often times I hear the enemy whisper “dumb, stupid, not enough.” I tend to believe them right away. Must be true they didn’t want me need me, etc. Last year I started writing scripture to pray before saying/asking requests. They include: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:14; Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, So God created mankind in his own image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:26;-27; 31. I remind myself daily that I am made in the very image of Christ. Calling myself that I can’t be those other names-for I would be calling God the same things.
Beth Williams says
You painted the perfect picture of what Paul talks about why we must put on the “Full Armor of God”. Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. This is a war and fight we must!!
Niki Hardy says
Oh my yes! What more can I say?