Works

Do you ever feel like you’re just never good enough? Do you feel like you’re always falling short? I know that I can easily fall into this place if I am not careful. If I don’t hold these thought and feelings captive, I can slip into a place of basing my self-worth, my faith and my title as a child of God, purely on how well I am performing. The problem is that I have very high standards for myself and am also my own worst critic. This can be a nasty combination if allowed to run free. Luckily, we have an amazing Savior that offers us grace and mercy in all things.  We can’t earn it and we should stop trying to.

I have struggled with these things on and off for most of my life I suppose. I definitely see this in others as well. Just last night my husband and I were discussing this issue and how consuming it can become when left unchecked. The Bible tells us to take our thoughts captive because our Creator knows how we are! Thoughts left to their own devices can be used as a weapon against us. We can become consumed with thoughts of our unworthiness, our failures, our lives can become distorted and we no longer feel any satisfaction. The more we hold onto these thoughts, the more we keep them to ourselves, the further we drift from those around us and from Jesus.

This past Sunday’s message was about the importance of true unity in the Body of Christ. We must truly allow ourselves to be open, honest and vulnerable with each other. We are meant to be a support and to help one another find clarity in the midst of storms. We are meant to lean on each other and to seek counsel when our thoughts are seeming to consume us, when we are feeling like we are not good enough or when we are just feeling spiritual separation and are not sure why. We are meant for more.

Christ came and died for each of us. His death was to bring us true freedom. Basing our self-worth on our works only allows us to be held captive once again. There is no list to check off, we never arrive at a place where we are deserving, we are loved no matter what we do. This is such a hard concept to hold onto. Be free in the Grace and the Mercy that is available in all things. Every morning we wake fresh and forgiven, but only if we accept it. Essentially, we are rejecting Christ’s gift when we allow ourselves to become consumed by our negative thoughts. We are getting in the way of ourselves and of the Holy Spirit. We build walls that keep others out and keep ourselves alienated.

I have said this so many times, my personal prayer has been for our Gracious Lord to show me how He sees me. I know that He created me on purpose and He has used me in ways I could never have imagined. He tells me that I am made in His image and that He loves me, so who better to show me what that really means. Who am I to allow myself to become wrapped up in these thoughts of self-loathing? Who am I to say that I am not good enough to be of use in God’s Kingdom? Do I really think that Jesus has made a mistake? That in all the world, our Perfect Creator made this one mistake in me? That is not the Lord I believe in. The God I worship is a God of perfection, patience, kindness, and mercy. My Lord works all things for perfection and beauty. So why do I find it so hard to this see within myself?

I do believe that working to better ourselves, to seek true transformation, and to be true to our callings are important. I also know that we are not meant to beat ourselves up and to drag ourselves down. If we take the time to bring these things before The Living God, He will show us how He sees us. Jesus is ready and willing to bring us all on a path of true freedom, true joy, and true transformation; we only need to get out-of-the-way.

Today I choose to lean on my brothers and sisters in Christ. I seek wise counsel when I am feeling lost and weighed down. I spend time in the presence of our Lord and remember that He is the Creator of all things. He has a plan and it is a privileged to be part of that plan. I will not base my worth on works. I will continue to move forward and follow God’s path, even when I am not seeing results. I know in my heart that I am loved and He has shown me this so many times. Peace is found in Jesus. When I am feeling unsettled and distant, I need to evaluate my thought life and hold captive those that threaten to derail me from my calling. I am a child of God and am free in Him. Thank you, Jesus, for all You have done, for all You are doing, and for that which You continue to do in my life each day.

Perfectly Made

Compliments are a weird thing for me. When I am given one, I don’t know what to do with it. I try to smile and say thank you, most of the time I deflect and try to avoid them. I once thought that not accepting a compliment was a type of humility, then I began to think of it as a pride issue. Lately, I have been given another perspective.

I have had the pleasure of going through some healing of old wounds with a woman who is in the same place as me, on so many levels. We have both experienced some crazy traumas as kids and have rebelled and lashed out in some similar ways. It has been great to meet with someone who listens with an open heart and that is willing to share their struggles so freely. We went through a book that I thought wold be much more difficult than it turned out to be. This last book dug into past traumas that can affect current relationships and reminded us on how Jesus wants to heal those places. He was there, is there and is the only One that can bring true healing. How amazed I am by the love He shares so freely. How much I enjoy digging into those places that once hurt and see just how powerfully He moves through those places, brings healing and allows the experience to bring healing to others. We only need to be willing.

Recently we have begun a book on another topic my friend felt she needed to face. I did some searching and found a great one. I was excited to start this process with her and expect miracles to take place. The thing I did not expect was just how deep this would hit home for me as well. The emotions it has stirred, the memories that threaten to become clearer, the pain buried so deeply, so long ago. The topic of Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers. Ugh, it is apparently a place that needs to be dug up and brought into the Light. The good news is that when Jesus asks me to step into these hard places, I know that it is so that He can release me from the burdens I carry. Burdens that I was never meant to carry. Experiences that can be shared and that can be used for His greater Good once I learn to release them.

After I completed the first chapter, I was struck by the fact that for most of my childhood, my internal feelings and thoughts were never acknowledged. In fact they were replaced with my parents telling me that I was not good enough, I was not worthy of love and that I would never be anything more than a burden and a mistake. When you learn these things in these stages of development, you carry those feelings of inadequacy into adulthood. We become unable to accept when others acknowledge a gift or skill in ourselves. We were never taught how. We were raised to believe that anything we felt we were successful in was a lie. We were told, in many different ways, that we should not acknowledge any beauty in ourselves. We are not to see our talents as something good. We will never measure up.

Now, I don’t believe we are meant to dwell in these places for long, but I do think it’s important to gain a new perspective and to dig deep to understand the underlying issues. If we go there, when Jesus leads us, we can find true freedom. We can replace the lies that were told to us so long ago. We can begin to see ourselves as the creations we are. Our Creator has made us all for a purpose and we need to know that. We need this to sink to the depths of our hearts so that we can be free to move within that purpose. It’s important.

I have had a desire to see myself as Jesus sees me, for some time now. It’s not a quick process, but a life long one. To allow Him to undo the lies and guilt that we grip onto so tightly. The defenses we have grown accustomed to carrying around, fully engaged. We don’t even realize how exhausting it is anymore, we have forgotten any other way. Jesus knows our burdens, He knows our pain and He is the only One that can release us from them. We only need to give Him the space to do so. He is gentle, patient and willing to wait until we go before Him and lay it all down. How lovely it is when we are able to drop the defenses and to walk in His will with confidence. The beauty we are able to encounter within ourselves is amazing.

Today I would encourage you all to turn your hearts over to Jesus and to ask Him what He wants you to see within yourself. Focus on following the path that He laid out for you so long ago. Remember that you were molded into perfection by His hands and that He wants a close and personal relationship with you. He is the true Father and His love never wavers. He has the perfect vision of who you are and what you are meant to do for His Kingdom. Rest on that. Seek His will. See yourself through His perfect eyes. Receive His love and acceptance. Let those defenses fall away and know that no one can hurt you anymore, for you are His and He will always protect you. He laid down His life for you. Now live  yours for Him.

 

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.