Sometimes you must leave your hometown in order to flourish elsewhere. Sometimes the people with whom you’ve grown up are not able to believe in the person you are, muchness the person you’ve become or the person you have the potential to be. They form an impression of you that is inaccurate, incomplete, or out-dated. They are unable to change it or change their perspective. They need you to be someone you’re not to remain where they are. Their inability to believe in you can be debilitating. Sometimes the only way to be true to yourself is to change your surroundings — away from family and friends who don’t believe in you, don’t appreciate you, and who don’t encourage you. Towards others who can.
Jesus experienced a similar challenge with His worldly family and friends in His hometown of Nazareth. Although Jesus had achieved a great following teaching God’s Word and performing miracles elsewhere, His hometown did not believe in Him and could not accept Him as the Messiah. While teaching at the Synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus astonished people with His wisdom — for He was a local man like themselves. But still they did not believe in Him: “He’s no better than we are,’ they said. ‘He’s just a carpenter, Mary’s boy, and a brother of James and Joseph, Judas and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.’ And they were offended!” (Matthew 6:3)
Jesus told His disciples, “…..A prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown and among his relatives and by his own family.” (Matthew 6:4) Because no one believed in Him there, Jesus was unable to do many miracles there and He left. (Matthew 6:5) The fact that no one believed in Him in his hometown weighed heavily upon Jesus and He had a hard time dealing with it. (Matthew 6:6) But rather than remain where He was unappreciated, Jesus moved on to communities that could believe in Him and accept His divine gifts.
Jesus’ experience in Nazareth underscores for me just how important it is to believe in ourselves and in others. And to pick our surroundings, and the people in our lives, carefully. Unless we are exposed to people who can believe in us and encourage us to be the best version of ourselves we can be, we risk losing our way — and adopting their imperfect perspective of us. We risk seeing ourselves as they do, as something less than we are, and we risk never achieving the plans God has for us.
Fortunately, God believes in us even when others do not. He sees us for who we are and He loves us and believes in us — even when we doubt ourselves. God fashioned us, He shaped us, and He wants us to succeed. God knows with absolute certainty that we have the potential to do things we have not yet imagined if only we believe. If we could see ourselves as He sees us, we could see our potential and we could accomplish anything. If only we believe.
It’s time for me to start giving God a real chance to change my life for the better. I haven’t been fair with Him. I’ve been engaged in self-sabotage with help from God’s enemy. I’ve been burdened with doubt, fear of success, and some people in my life who don’t believe in what I can accomplish. They’re my virtual “Hometown Disadvantage” in disguise.
In addition to giving God full reign over my life, it’s time I started believing in myself again — and becoming better at encouraging those around me who could benefit from some support. It’s time I asked for more help from God — and acknowledge that I need His help more than I realized. As for those who don’t believe in me or don’t encourage me to become the best person I can be, it’s time I put some distance between us.
For if you don’t believe in me and you are unwilling to encourage and support my relationship with God, you’re hurting me. And that’s something I don’t have room in my life for anymore.