Over the last couple of days, I FEEL like God has been speaking to me about communicating what I want to the people that need to hear it. Whether that is to Him, as Abba Father or to family, friends and even colleagues – EVERYONE!
I feel like, so many people (especially Nigerian women – I can only speak from my experience) have been raised to want something but never express it or voice it because doing so would make other people view you as greedy/opinionated/arrogant or proud/trying to be a man – all sorts – pick any of these reasons. As a result, we know what we want and what we don’t want but never actually verbalize our wants. Oh, we do verbalize our needs but do so only when really pushed to the point where not doing so would result in actual harm to us in some way. How is that healthy?
In the area of relationships, in conversing with guys I have met or a guy I have been introduced to, I always get to that point when the guy asks me, “so what do you want?”. For the longest time, I have always been at a loss for words because for whatever reason, I had always internalized the bad cultural belief that it was not okay to say what I wanted (especially when it was not them). I always had to be the good girl that did not make anyone else uncomfortable because my wants may be too big, too particular, too ridiculous to be verbalized and so, I always responded to that question with, “I know what I don’t want” because, in my head, that was the better, more satisfactory response. This response was me just removing the negative. I realise that that is nonsense behaviour that has its root in false humility.
False humility is worse than pride because, in your mind, you are being humble when the truth is, you are just a proud person beating yourself up and pretending to be humble. You are being kept bound in a space where you have no business being in. You are still prideful, just pretending not to be but doing so in such a way that you have managed to deceive even yourself that you are humble. In his article for Psychology Today, Dr Aqualus Gordon describes false humility as “pridefulness in disguise“. In choosing to not open your mouth and voice your wants, you are being prideful – it is not humility, it is false humility! There are no benefits to being falsely humble – none! Knowing and saying what you don’t want is fine but knowing and asserting what you do want is always the better option.
There are so many damaging characteristics that I am now forcing myself to unlearn because of cultural beliefs. By the way, there are many cultural beliefs that are taken to be Biblical when the truth is, God is trying to break us free from them but we so tightly cling to them because that is the way we have been brought up. My issue with culture and tradition is, it takes what God intended for liberty and so binds us to a belief that we are unable to actually be free or live free.
One example is the ‘OBEY ME’ law frequently practiced in my culture. Now, I am not saying that you should disrespect your parents. No – NEVER! The Bible says that we should HONOUR not OBEY our parents – “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you” – Exodus 20:12. The difference between obedience and honour are distinct. One forces you to do as you are told without thought or freedom, the other allows you to back away if the instruction is detrimental to you (an example is staying in an abusive marriage because Mum and Dad say so – extreme I know but you understand what I mean) without disrespect.
Time and time again, I have been asked, “what do you want?”. Whether that is concerning a small or big thing and every time, I shrug and allow decisions to be made for me. Child of God, please tell me. How is that godly? How is that drawing me closer to God? How is that making my life my own? How is that you being the head and not the tail? Where is the personal autonomy in that type of life? Do you know what I call that? Living the tail life. God, Himself said, if we obey His commands, He will make us the head and not the tail. – “If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom” – Deuteronomy 28:13.
If decisions are being made for you, if what you want is not being considered, if you are not even being heard, how is that you being the head? What does the head do? It leads the pack. It decides. It is quite literally, ahead. It dictates where the tail goes. What does the tail do? It follows the head. Now, if God has said that I am to be the head and not the tail and I am being asked what I want and I keep mute, what does that make me? Correct. The tail. Who does that benefit? Yep, also correct. Everyone else. I do not imagine that this is God’s desire for my life – it cannot be.
Time and time again, we see in the Bible. God asking human beings to choose! Decide! Make up our minds. Imagine for a moment if, when God asked Adam to name the animals, he kept quiet because of culture or another reason because he knew what he did not want to call them? Can you imagine what would have resulted? (obviously, God would have worked it out but think about it for a moment). The Creator of the Universe asks us questions and expects answers, why can we not give people on earth answers?
We are told that God knows the plans He has for us – “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” – Jeremiah 29:11. It is very clear in God’s mind and He knew before our mothers gave birth to us (Jeremiah 1:5). Yet, God wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to tell Him what we want. He wants us to share our desires with Him. Like a loving Father, He wants us to speak to Him. He approached Solomon and asked him what he wanted (1 Kings 3:5-14). Again, imagine if his response was, “I know what I don’t want“. Obviously, when we are saved and begin seeking God, our desires begin to align with His but they are our desires – just God-shaped – does that make sense? They still need to be stated.
What is my point?
As we start this new week, please speak up. When you are asked what you want, say what you want. Speak up! It is okay to want what you want. Stop relegating your needs to the back burner because you feel you don’t deserve them or you feel that the needs of others are more important. Stop being so afraid of your own voice and wants (please note, this does not include anything that will cause harm or lead anyone to sin. That is another blog post). Speak up, add your voice to the conversation. Let God know what you want (He knows already). Let the people around you know what you want. It will stop silly cycles of you getting what you don’t want and having to “put up” with a lot of what you don’t want which leads to other negative cycles.
Your wants. Your voice. Your needs. They are all valid. Use the voice that God has given you. Let people know what exactly you want so you can finally stop getting what you do not want. You hear?
Love and Blessings,