I think I’ll jump in right where the story gets good. I have many chapters in my life that influenced who I am now, just like all of you. We have all been children before and on the same journey of figuring out what we believe about ourselves. At an early age, we decide if we are inherently good or inherently bad based upon our life experiences. My life experiences as a darling little girl taught me that I was inherently bad, so that is what I partnered with and believed about myself for most of my life. I’m sure many of you can relate. With that being said, I spent 20+ years of life trying to fix the problem called “me.” I didn’t know exactly which part of me was bad or wrong, but it became my life mission to figure out how to get rid of the bad and only be the good. My hope was that if I could fix myself and be “good enough” then maybe then I would be loved by God, others, and hopefully one day I could even love myself.
I accepted Christ as a 7 year old girl, being held under water by a childhood friend in my grandmother’s pool. Of course he didn’t know I was running out of air, we were just kids being kids and rough housing was the name of the game for this tomboy. But that moment made me question my eternity and where I would go if I were to die, so I asked God to save me physically and spiritually all in a split second. Oddly enough, I’m grateful for that experience because it was the beginning of the best decision I’ve ever made in life. After I prayed for God to save me, obviously he did and I’m here to write about it now. I don’t remember the details of how I got away from the other kid, but I do remember feeling very aware of heaven and a closeness to God’s voice that I now had access to.
That decision to accept Christ definitely assured my eternity, but it took years of studying scripture, maturing with age, and growing in my relationship with God to know that salvation was just the starting line. There was an entire race ahead of me called life that I would journey through with the Holy Spirit living in me. Because I was saved at an early age all of the mistakes, sins, successes, wins and growth were inevitably going to be with God rather than apart from him. Talk about unconditional love! What a love story our relationship has been.
There have been seasons that were bliss and some where I was so afraid to hear his voice because I just knew he was going to ask something more of me. Something scary, embarrassing, something that caused me anxiety, or dying in some way, but I thought if I didn’t obey, God would no longer love me, hence came obedience out of duty rather than love for God. That level of obedience only lasted for a short while until I felt like a slave to a commanding officer and then I stopped wanting to hear his voice. Little did I know, the filter I was using to hear him speak through was blurred by an orphan spirit that convinced me that I needed to earn my keep in the kingdom. I so desired to be God’s favorite and I thought the way to earn that place in his heart was to work really hard. I practiced all of the spiritual disciplines to earn love, but I would only feel like I had earned enough love to get me though that day until tomorrow came and then I would need to go harder in the paint to earn more love. Exhausting, right?!
Comparison became a real issue as well. I wasn’t really concerned with comparing myself to those with beautiful faces and toned bodies, although that snuck in sometimes. I mostly compared myself to those who were living as missionaries, suffering for the Gospel, who lived in extreme poverty because of their love for God and obedience to the call on their lives. I’m sure you can imagine what that did to my heart. I was a daughter of God that didn’t know she was a daughter. The love deficit was the root of all of the performance in my life and it wasn’t something I could fix or satisfy on my own. With deep grief I laid down my performance one day at a time and started receiving God’s love without earning it. I was ready to learn if God really loved me without all of the striving and as scary as it was, I laid down full-time ministry and serving in any capacity to heal the root of this problem once and for all.
For the past two years I’ve been on a journey of healing with the Lord. He has convinced me that I am good just as I am. I am loved whenever I’m leading people to Christ on the side of the road, or lying in bed adding to my Pinterest boards. I never knew that he liked what I like, and enjoyed the things that I enjoy. I also would have never guessed that he appreciated my creativity or valued me having fun. Of course I still value obedience and serving others, but the motive is what he changed for me. My obedience is from the position of being a daughter first and not a slave. I’m serving from love now, rather than for love. There is a big difference.
The highs were high and the lows were low. At times I felt like God’s love for me was so beyond my comprehension that my body was going to explode, and other times I didn’t know if my suppressed heartache would ever go away. There were cracks in the foundation of my beliefs that needed to be replaced with truth. God was so kind and faithful to meet me right where I was and bring me out of that pit I was in. If you can relate to my story and you feel like an orphan rather than a child who is a part of the family of God, I want to invite you to start each day by asking God what he thinks of you. Allow your heart to have a voice and then invite the Holy Spirit to tell you the truth about how He sees you. Believe what Christ says. You are good. You are created in his image. His love for you cannot be revoked. Receive more of his love each day and allow him to be the surgeon of your heart. I know with assurance that he is faithful to bring you into his truth and it will set your heart free.