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… in elementary school, I remember just like a fear, I didn’t know how to give voice to the fact that I hated myself. I just knew that I always wanted to be somebody else because I felt like who I was was not good enough.
There was a moment when I was very young, we had just moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida and I remember trying to make friends in the neighborhood. I’m probably five years old. And I remember that my uncle had given me for my birthday, these little six shooters, that had the holster, the whole cowboys set up.
And I remember the next door neighbor who was an older kid came over and, man, I just remember so much wanting him to like me. And so we just had my birthday, I had this special gift on, I’m trying to impress him walking around with my six shooters on. And I remember in that interaction, him just seeming not very interested. And at one point he did seem to those guns though he seemed to my birthday present. And I remember giving him my birthday present, giving him these guns because I wanted him to like me so bad.
And after I gave it to him, I’m like, surely, this is going to close the deal. I’m in now.
And then he never really paid me any serious attention though. And it was just like I never made that connection that I was really wanting to, I was looking for acceptance from him and that never happened.
And I remember there was a message that was established that day was like, well, you’re just not likable. You’re not good enough. You’re not cool enough. You can’t get there from here. And that sounds silly, but isn’t that the way it is for so many things that are in our childhood?
And I remember talking to my dad about it years later and going like, dad, why do these things still matter after all this time? And he goes, well, man, if it happened today, maybe it wouldn’t matter as much. He goes, but this is literally when the foundation of who you are is being formed. And so these messages kind of get in that foundation.
Even to this day after having written songs about it, after having Jesus even do a true work in that there still is sometimes a reflex or whatever that will see the good in other people but then instantly discount that thing in me that God might be doing right now, and that it is worth celebrating but it’s kind of this downplayed sort of thing to me.
There was a moment when I felt kind of at the time at my lowest and I finally was able to give voice to, I don’t like me.
What I found is I was always looking at to see how I felt like someone else was perceiving me. And if I felt like they were liking me, then I could somehow give myself permission to be okay with me then. But really the underlying thing that I had never come to before was, I don’t like me. I’m not okay with me. In fact, I was like, you know what? I think I hate me. When I finally found the words to say that, man, it was at an all time low, but it needed to come out though.
And when I was in my garage, our garage is under our house in Tennessee, and I was having this moment with the Lord when I had that realization and I just told God, I hate me. In fact, I think I’ve got a giant list of things I’d like to tell you right now that I hate about me.
And I never got to the list because God stepped in. Just as clear as bell, the still small voice of the Lord. He’s not screaming. That’s why it’s so easy to fall prey to a lot of other loud voices that are around because he speaks with this still, small, steady, constant voice.
And he says, “Michael, I think you need to let me tell you what I think about you for once.”
And so I’m like, all right then, since we’re having this conversation or whatever. And he starts with this, he goes, I like the way that you smile. And I was caught off guard, man. I’m used to over spiritualizing everything. You know what I mean? And so I was looking for something like more grandiose or otherworldly or whatever. And he goes, I like the way you smile. And that was one thing that in pictures, even though I hated everything else, there was something about, well, I guess I got a good smile. He connected with this one thing that I could agree with him on, and that was his way in. And he just starts to dismantle these other things.
I’d love to tell you that that was the moment that it all changed everything. And it was like a Hallmark movie that my wife watches or whatever, and I never struggled with it again. That is not true. It’s like sometimes it’s been even uglier at times. But, man, he’s been so constant to be with me in the midst of it. We think of looking at him like he’s on the other side of the lake of whatever problem that we’re going through. And that’s the goal, we got to get over there somewhere. But God’s going like, no man. I’m with you right here in the ugly, and I’ve never loved you any less for it. You can’t make me love you anymore. You’re enough because I say you’re enough, because of what I’ve done for you. And that’s what he began to show me that day and that was the beginning of a journey in my life.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s happened to us. It’s so easy for us to live in our own perspective. God doesn’t see things the way that we do. And I would just encourage anyone who’s in the middle of it, it could be whatever, to just stop and if you could have a place to just quiet your heart in front of God. Go get in your car if you have to, and shut the door. You know what I mean? Just close it off, everything else off for a minute and just ask him, God, what do you say about me? God, what do you say about my situation? Jesus, where are you in the midst of this? Man, I promise you he is going to show you.