Does he not see my ways and count my every step? “If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit—let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless—
~Job 31:4-6 NIV~
Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to completely convince us that what we’ve been doing is nowhere near what God would want us to do. He’s given you a life with a purpose and it is the devil’s mission to consistently throw you off course by challenging you with obstacles that are directly related to your biggest weaknesses. He’s been very successful in doing this to me lately, but I have decided that I’m done playing around. Though I didn’t realize that I had been playing around, some things have come to light that have made it difficult to deny that my actual actions weren’t matching up with my perception of my actions. Putting your trust in people who consistently show you that you can’t trust them is just plain crazy. Putting your hope in anything that professes to be something it isn’t is simply insane. Pretending to be happy with a life that in no way challenges you to follow His plan for you is just a waste of time and energy. For a few years now, I’ve been calling mediocrity a life of simplicity. I’ve been calling the fear to stand up for myself humility. I’ve been settling for less than what He tells me I deserve as His child and I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m awake now. And it’s simply not going to be enough anymore.
Years ago I had a list of about a hundred goals that I wanted to accomplish before I die. I had people to meet, things to do, places to go and a whole bunch of life to live ahead of me. But something happened and one day, I put the list away and never got it out again. Eventually, the list disappeared…just as my desire to do more with my life did. I’d like to say it was one thing that caused this, but it was the accumulation of many hurts that began to impress upon me the idea that I just wasn’t worthy. Of course, I had glimmers of hope mixed in here and there. God tried to give me things to love and appreciate so that I would remember that He was there. But it took years before I figured out that He was the missing piece of the puzzle. He gave me friendships and relationships and even great jobs and a little talent for a few things. But I still lacked confidence and underneath it all, I just couldn’t accept that He meant for me to have these things. Whether it was shame or guilt or just a lack of understanding that kept me from fully receiving His gifts, I do not know. The point is that it has been a constant struggle for me to accept what He has been trying to give me all along.
My daughter has been the most effective means He has employed thus far of getting me to understand who I am to Him. Before she was born, there was absolutely no way I could have understood what it means to love someone so unconditionally. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her no matter what happens. There will always be grace for my child; as there will also be grace for me in God’s eyes. So, step by step, conflict after conflict, struggle upon struggle, I’ve been learning that He still loves me in spite of all my efforts to turn Him away. After nearly four years of being back in church and trying to develop and understand my relationship with God, I’m still amazed at how hard it is to not try and make Him let go of me. For some reason, I still try to convince Him that I’m not worthy. I still try to make Him see how much of a waste of time it is for Him to work with me. And He still picks me up and brushes the dirt off of me and says, “You can do this.” I’m not sure I’ll ever understand that.
So, after a bit of an emotional struggle over the last few months (which I can’t detail now, but will likely blog about later), I was sitting at my favorite spot at a park I like to visit when I can. I was looking out over the water and thinking to myself, “Are you still there?” And for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t asking that question of God. I was asking it of myself. I’ve been so convinced that there was nothing good enough in me for Him to work with that I began throwing away the parts of myself that I thought were offending Him. If there was something in my personality or behavior that I thought He wouldn’t want others to see in me, I either got rid of it and replaced it with something milder or went ahead and did it, but made sure nobody knew that I was doing it. In the process, I forgot to be who I truly am. I was doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons and some of the wrong things for the right reasons. And to ensure that I didn’t get too proud of myself for completely cutting me out of my life, I made sure to do a couple of things that I knew He didn’t want me to do. I was so sure that I had proven myself unworthy and of no value that I had almost decided to lay down and just let the grass grow over me.
But as I sat there looking out at that beautiful sky and the water below, I remembered something. I’m not who I used to be. But I’m not who I am yet to be either. I am a work in progress. God’s Masterpiece, being painted little by little each day. I am like that piece of clay that has to be molded and shaped and held in the fire until all of the imperfections disappear. And one day, I’ll look up and instead of seeing all that I am not, I’ll see all that I’ve been able to become in Him. But I have to let the fires of this world do their worst to me in order to become my best. So, even though my heart has been broken time after time by selfish people who only wanted to use me, and even though I’ve struggled with alcoholism and anxiety, and depression, and even though I’ve suffered so many losses of those I loved dearly and those whom I never had the chance to love, I know that this, too, shall pass. I just need to remember that the question is not whether or not He’s still there for me but whether or not I’m trying to draw near to Him or push Him away.
…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
~Hebrews 20:22 NIV~