The Number One Thing I’ve Learned

I’ve always been referred to as an ‘old soul’. Through the years, I’ve grown to appreciate the title. Even with feeling older and more mature, there are some things I’ve had to learn-as-I-go. Now that I’m officially a thirty-something, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on many irrefutable lessons that life has been so gracious to teach me.

With each passing year, I grow stronger and more confident in who God created me to be. That strength comes in part from embracing the number one thing I’ve learned. This thing…this lesson…is so simple, but it took me soooooooo very long to let it sink in. I’m still reminding myself even now, as a matter of fact.

Isn’t that just like us though?! We mere humans make the most simple things complicated by overanalyzing them and allowing fear and doubt and all kinds of other emotions to seep into the mix!

But here goes:

No one can tell you how to feel or how to deal with YOUR life!

I know–super basic. In my defense, I warned you.

In the past, I was so bound because people tried to do just that. They tried to tell me that my feelings didn’t matter or that my feelings were downright stupid. I was told that because I was young, I could not adequately understand hurt or pain. I was told that because I was thin and tried to keep myself up, I couldn’t struggle with low self-esteem. I was told that because I was always around people, I could not be battling loneliness or depression.

Listen, it took me close to thirty years to figure out that those are all lies from the pit of hell!

At the time, I believed the direction/instruction of others more than anything else. Even though the hurt grew in my heart, I tried to suppress it in order to not be cast down by my peers.

These lies consumed me for many years and held me captive to the idea that I was wrong for feeling the things that went against the grain of the people I sought so desperately to please.

Eventually, I found a way to break free through the Word of God and my relationship with the Lord. I have learned that the enemy starts early with distracting us and that joker almost had me. Almost.

That yoke of bondage has been broken and the precious gift of freedom I have experienced must be shared.


We are all unique, with different passions, different purposes, and different desires…living out different life experiences. We would be completely remiss to assume we all must cope the same way.

I love the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. To summarize, Hannah was dealing with some deep emotions that she could not openly share with others. She had issues conceiving a child and her husband’s other wife constantly mocked her about it.

Hannah sought the Lord effectually and fervently…I would imagine with soggy eyes and a runny nose too–at least, that would be me. She poured her heart out to God one evening after dinner, only to be TOLD by someone else that she was drunk.

That someone else–even though he was a priest that was close to the Lord–was wrong and completely incorrect in his assumption. In her best attempt to ‘deal with being barren,’ she went to the Lord, only to be met with judgement and persecution from others.

Ya’ll, we have to be careful about putting our ‘two-cents’ in stuff, because everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Each time we see a person, we’re looking at the outside of a masterpiece that has not yet been perfected.

On the same token, sometimes people assume they know us and they know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, but that is only their perception. They are outsiders looking in, without bearing witness to the full story.

Today, be free from the false perceptions of others. No one can tell you how to feel, because they don’t know what you’re dealing with in the spiritual. Even more than that, they don’t know the beautiful journey you’re taking with God.

Moral of the story: don’t assume, because you can’t tell someone how to feel.



Candace is the founding voice behind Stretched and Outstretched, which was birthed in a wilderness season of frustration that caused her to chop off her hair and run--full speed--into the outstretched arms of God. She is a lower Delaware native and spends her free time enjoying spontaneous dance breaks with her son and tear-jerking laughter with friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *