There’s an old saying, “you become the company you keep.” Aside from the obvious good versus bad implication, there’s something else buried in the wisdom of that sentence, something that only recently has been brought to my consciousness. I didn’t notice it because it’s buried deep within our culture, deep within this new revelation of the “you do you” and #selfcare movements.

It’s victimization. It’s the idea that things seem to happen to us, that we have no control over our lives and/or how we respond to the events on our personal timelines. It’s the idea that we are more deserving than we actually are. We have bad days, so we deserve a Starbucks. We have a bad year, so we deserve to throw resolutions out the window, consequences be damned. We deserve to be treated better, treated with dignity, and we deserve the right to complain about it if we can’t seem to find the sun.

Woe to us. There’s nothing we can do to change our circumstances, or even worse, there’s nothing we want to do to change our circumstances because then we’d have to admit to ourselves that we’ve been living our entire lives as a supporting character instead of the hero.

We are the company we keep, the media we absorb, and the subtle things that we let slip through the cracks of our composure.

Friend, we are not victims.

We have the power to enact change, the power to speak our minds, and the power of the knowledge and testimony that there is God who is victorious in all things, and He wants us to stop throwing pity parties for ourselves and each other. We are more than conquerors; we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength; be not afraid, the battle belongs to the Lord Most High. We are told in the Bible that Satan will be vanquished and God will establish His kingdom. He sets us up to succeed: He gave us His divinely inspired Word, the example of His Son Jesus Christ, and the power and assurance of the Holy Spirit.

We are not victims.

But we are the company we keep. There are so many voices that daily spout both truth and lies. We have the power to either turn them up or tune them out. It is up to us to choose for ourselves how we will live our lives, and to be honest, stepping out of victim-mode is not easy. It takes work, mostly because we have to recognize what it is in our lives that is keeping us there.

Hint: Most of the time, it’s us, our own inner voices.

You have permission to make changes in your life and I pray you do. You are stronger than you think you are, especially standing with the Almighty Father. You are Capable. You are Brave. You can do this – whatever this is for you. You might not be able to alter your exact circumstance – perhaps it really is beyond your control – but you can alter your mindset. You can practice positivity and gratitude. You can pray fervently and frequently. You can find one person in whom to confide. You can send an email or a text and end a toxic relationship or situation. You are not alone. You have a band of sisters lifting you up in prayer. You can raise a hallelujah in all things and once you realize that, oh Friend, there is such peace.

You are the company you keep.

If you keep company with women of God, you will find yourself encouraged to become a woman of God. If you keep the company of strong, self-assured, confident women, you will find yourself encouraged to become a strong, self-assured, and confident woman. I know that these things are true because this is my story. Anxiety, fear, guilt – they all kept me in victim-mode. Some of the people I spent time with were content to stay in victim-mode, content to pass the responsibility of their mentality onto someone else. To be frank, I don’t spend time with them anymore because I don’t want to be sucked back down into the negativity and hopelessness. Friend, you are the only one responsible for you and your mentality. It’s up to you. This might be a little tough love for some of you, but I want to emphasize the word love. You are Loved by the Father, and He has plans for you.

There are so many voices. Which one will you listen to?