Love God, Love People…But Yourself?

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31, NLT

You can’t love anyone else unless you love yourself. There are a number of variations of this quote. Often used to promote self-love and acceptance, and honor one’s self-worth. The idea of self-love, however, also has gotten a lot of criticism among evangelicals. Why? Self-love is selfish. Another often used quote. Arguing the idea that the concept of self-love is unholy, ungodly, and borne of selfish desire and conceit.

I disagree.

Let me offer another perspective.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
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. Psalm 139:14-16, NLT

What is described above is a labor of love. A love so immense it cannot be put into words. It is something not found in the world. That cannot be recreated. God desires that we know this about ourselves. He desires that we know the care He took in making all our unique parts. All our talents. That we celebrate all the ways we are complex, and not like any other-before the world tells us we are broken, different, not enough, and too much of something. He desires that we know we are loved, before the world tells us we are unloveable. We cannot know this without knowing just how much we are loved by God. We must know the kind of love He has for us, and love all the ways in which He has made us. In turn, love ourselves.

Because we can’t pour out love to anyone, explain this immense love to others, that we don’t even have or understand for our own selves.

The self-love that others criticize so fervently is really what is referred to as “self-made.” This term indicates that one is “made by one’s own actions.” That everything someone has, whether it is their character, their success, their talents-they did that all on their own. They are the lord of their life, not God. And this is the self-love the “world” screams of-not the self-love that God desires.

He does desire that we love ourselves first, in the way He loves us. In the ways He made us. Remembering that He provided us with the talents, the strength, the gifts. That none of our success is possible without Him.

When we understand this-then we can go out, and REALLY love on others. In the way Jesus did.

Love God. Love yourself (because it’s biblical), and love others like God loves you!

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It is what it is

The phrase in the picture above. It’s one of my favorites. Coined by my bestie and I to remind ourselves to not worry over things we can’t control. It has carried us through tough things. Even trivial nuisances. I even have a bracelet to commemorate our adoption of the phrase.

However, I heard in a sermon on-line in the past not to say the phrase. Not to use it at all. Like…what???

But it’s my favorite. What do you mean, don’t say it?

For a while I felt a bit convicted about it. Caught myself every time it came out of my mouth. Stopped wearing that bracelet.

But then I started therapy. Started working on acceptance. Of myself. Of life in general. It’s ebbs and flows. What God allows, and what He allows to remain a mystery. What He controls. What He gives me the power to control. What He allows to remain, be. What for Him just “is.”

And I realized “it is what it is.” Most things about this life are simply that.

It’s the hard, straight-up, honest truth.

People don’t like me. “It is what it is.” I can stress over it. Mold myself to fit into boxes He never wanted me to fit into. Or I can accept the fact that some people just won’t like me. Just never will, and be OK with it. I like me. And so does He.

People disappoint. “It is what it is.” We are flawed humans. We hurt. It’s a part of our sin-filled nature. A manifestation of the fall. I can sit and wallow in the hurt, or I can forgive and move on. Create better boundaries, and hope I don’t get hurt in the same way again. Learn from it, so that I don’t dare do the same to anyone else.

Change will come. Both good and bad. “It is what it is.” Some change I will like and I will embrace with open arms. Other change I won’t like so much, and I will fight like crazy to avoid. But fighting won’t keep change from coming. Avoiding won’t keep change from coming. It still comes.

Life has ups and downs. It comes with some worries. Some big. Some small. “It is what it is.” It’s the price paid for living until we see the promised land. I can either wallow in worry endlessly, or I can relish in the fact that there isn’t a worry or a trial He has not seen me through. Even if some have been harder than others.

“It is what it is.”

I am not accepting defeat here. I am not laying down my flag and saying that life has no meaning. No purpose. Or that suffering will always be this way (though the Bible does tell us we will have suffering here….).

What I am saying is, for me…I am accepting life as it comes. I can go through it in a constant state of panic, defeat, or sadness. Or I can let life ebb and flow as it will. I can let God handle things as He will anyway.

It is what it is, because He is what He is.

To be known

I walked in the room, knowing I needed to apologize. Dinner in our home is definitely a time of interesting, and fiery conversation. The fiery ones center mostly on the state of virtual school. On any given night, one parent ends up being the bad cop, the good cop, or we both end up just being lame. Tonight, it was me.

I wasn’t “bad.” I hadn’t yelled. We hadn’t had the dreaded school discussion that ends in stomping to rooms, but I hadn’t set a “good” example. Not one sprinkled with grace and acceptance.

I had mocked someone we knew at the dinner table. Judged a situation, and judged the person in the situation.

And any of you who haven’t committed this sin, be the first to cast a stone. I’ll wait.

While I wait…and wait, I’ll explain my apology. If I feel my example has not been one of Christlike-ness; or let’s just say, if I KNOW, because the Spirit tells me it hasn’t, I will apologize. This means I will also apologize to my kids.

Now, I know some don’t believe in this. But, the Bible is clear about how humble we must become to enter His kingdom:

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3, NLT

Like children. So I’m not above apologizing to a child. Especially if I know that one is watching and learning from me.

“I shouldn’t have said what I did tonight. Made fun of what happened. It was wrong. I am not going to justify my behavior. I should have explained my thoughts differently. It was wrong. I didn’t set an example, and it wasn’t kind.”

The apology opened up a conversation about authenticity and belonging.

See…I had left a space earlier that day feeling shunned and unwelcome. Like I was an intrusion. And I let it fester all day. To the point that I let the inauthentic response of another trigger me into anger, and a mean-spirited response.

When I should have explained at dinner the importance of making others feel comfortable in all spaces. Allow others to be free to be themselves, so they don’t have to constantly “shape-shift,” and be less than themselves. To be inclusive to all. To make others feel a little less self-conscious, but rather accepted, seen, loved, and known.

“I don’t want you to be 42 years old, and just figuring this out like I am.”

As I sat typing out the words to this post, I reached for my phone to locate a verse I needed and found this…a note I had typed out in my phone over a year ago. A short “letter” I had written to the younger me.

Dear Younger me,

Choose your circle wisely. You should be loved by your peeps for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. If you have to change who you were made to be to fit into a space, that isn’t your space.

And as I read it, I realized…though she thought it “cringy…” I had just said these exact same words, without my even knowing to a pretty spot-on, younger version of 13 year-old me.

And no…I didn’t want her to have to figure all this out in another 30 years.

And goodness, I am still trying to figure out many days who it is that God sees in me.

Because that is what I want her to see: who God sees. Not what anyone in any room she may walk into may see. Because more often than not…they may not see ALL that God has given her. ALL her talent. ALL her gifts. ALL that makes her so uniquely special, and set apart.

And it’s the same for you. There will be rooms you walk into where you may be known by name, but in which people still just don’t see you. You still don’t feel known. You will move in circles with people who don’t know who you really are, because you feel as if you have to cover up the real you. Play pretend. You may waste years and years trying to fit into spaces that will just never “fit” you, and who you are.

Know this. Embrace it today.

You are always seen and intimately known by God. He knows everything about you, and He still loves you. He has a place for you, and you never have to pretend, cover up; nor will you feel all alone.

He sees the real you. The broken you. The insecure you. The too loud you. The shy you. The you trying to fit into spaces that make you cringe.

He knows your name. He sees you. He loves you. He accepts you. You are known. You belong.

Maybe you failed…but a failure you are not

I failed today.

I had all these things I set out to do. And I didn’t do a single one.

I prayed last night that when I woke this morning, I would remember that “mercy was anew.” I did remember it. For a moment. Until that car pulled out in front of me. That child yelled at me. That co-worker snapped at me. And I forgot all about mercy.

I failed to do the laundry.

I failed to put down my phone.

I failed to meet my deadline. I failed to be patient. Spoke harshly. Was a little too snappy. Let my frustration show through my tone and actions.

I failed today.

I failed to cook dinner.

I failed to play that game with my kids.

I failed to spend time with my husband.

I failed.

I failed because the world says I have to keep up with everything that is thrown at me. I failed because the world says I have to have it all together. Be everything to everyone, all with a bright smile on my face. Check everything off my endless to-do list with everlasting cheeriness.

And if I keep trying to measure up to the standards of the world. Rating myself on whether all my check boxes are filled, I will always feel like a world-class failure.

And I am not. I am not a failure.

I just failed today.

And I can try again tomorrow.

And so can you. You can cross off one more thing from your list you didn’t get done tomorrow. Or next week.

You can spend 10 less minutes on your phone, even if you hoped it would be an hour.

You can simply sort the laundry, and wait until tomorrow to actually start a load.

And still be successful.

Because you are not failing.

You are human. Sure you have some tough days. Sure to want to throw out your check list. Sure to feel that all is going wrong. And everything is crumbling. Sure to feel like you have failed a time or two. Or three.

But surely….never a failure.

We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23

Please don’t ask me to drink

Sometimes you can be the loudest, funniest, and coolest one at the party, and at some point still feel all alone. Still be the one feeling like “Baby” stashed in a corner, behind a plant…trying to figure out where you fit in. Hoping no one asks if you want a drink. Please. Please don’t ask if I want a drink.

That was some random thought I had written down. At a party. Where maybe one or two folks I actually knew were present. Where the majority of them were on the dance floor. Drinks in hand. All seeming to be having the time of their lives. While I sat behind a plant. In a corner. Wondering if a drink would make me feel like I belonged.

I wasn’t always this way. I was for a good part of my late teens (yes…late teens) and well into my early 30s the one dancing. With drink in hand. Maybe even on a “good” night, two in hand. And…if I was really slick. I could hide them just enough so any picture taken? Yep. No one would know.

I was the mom who downed a bottle of wine before her kids were off the bus. Knowing I had enough time for the buzz to wear off before the hubs got home. Figuring the kids were too young to notice.

I broke things after drunken wine festivals. I justified my long days spent “out” to my love-“I’ve got a lot on my plate.”

I planned entire weekends around my next drink. And my Sunday’s around the bathroom.

I needed to escape. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to forget all the junk. Even if for just a little bit.

I was the life of the party, because for those moments I could forget about all that was life.

I was the life of the party, yet still so lonely.

And so I get it. I get why people become drawn to food. To booze. To drugs. To drown out those feelings of loneliness. Inadequacy. Overwhelm.

They are the reasons I started drinking. They are also the exact reasons I stopped.

Because I didn’t want alcohol to be the fuel that drove me to make a connection with someone. Because I didn’t want my social interactions to be obscured by cloudy judgment. Because, if I’m honest…my inability to feel like I belonged in those spaces made me overcompensate. I was downright obnoxious. Loud. And rude.

I didn’t want to feel like I needed a drink to be accepted.

I didn’t want to numb feelings that would still be there when I woke.

Because I finally started to see that the end of the bottle was not the end of all my problems.

And it took me some time to get to the point where I can walk in a room, and own the place. Water bottle and all.

Yet, there are still times I don’t. Still times I feel so, so lonely.

While my choice to not partake makes me seem like a prude to some. May have people looking sideways at me because, my goodness…you don’t have a cocktail after those crazy days you have??? (Nope. Nope. I don’t). May have others believe I am silently judging their choice to do so.

It’s simply not good for me. And what’s not good for me shouldn’t leave me feeling lonely.

So, keep inviting me to your parties. To happy hour. To your wedding with the open bar.

Just be OK with me if I decline, because the temptation to take the edge off the “social jitters” may be too much. Or if I show up and only order water. Please don’t convince me to have another drink. Because I know I can’t stop at one.

Please help me to feel accepted in that corner. Behind that plant. While I tap my foot, just trying not to dance.

Please invite me out on that dance floor.

Just please don’t ask me to drink.

What I know now

“Are you an albino?”

“I was wondering that, too. You know…because of the hair and big lips.”

Those questions? Those comments? They were made about me. All while trying to get through an already awkward middle school gym class.

Those comments told me these things: You don’t fit in. You look different. You don’t belong.

So I did everything over a number of years to somehow look like everyone else. I couldn’t change my lips, but I could at least try to change my hair. So I thinned it out. I tried to straighten it. So I could run my fingers through it like all the other girls could their hair.

Try as I might, I still looked different.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

“We’ve gotten some complaints about your ‘sass.'” You are passionate, but maybe tone it down a bit.”

“Pink hair? Interesting…”

“Doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that you shouldn’t have tattoos? And aren’t you a Pastor?”

“You’re so naïve. That’s cool and all, but you’re too naive. Face it! Some people are just jerks.”

Comparison and criticism didn’t stop in adulthood. If anything, it hurt worse.

I wasn’t in middle school anymore. We were all adults. Why were we still picking apart all things? And casting folks into categories?

I wish I knew then what I know now.

I wish I knew that those middle school taunts, though not forgotten, would one day not define me.

I wish I knew that I didn’t need the approval from those adults to fulfill a purpose God had given just to me.

I wish I knew then, because maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to stop straightening my hair. To show my daughter to love and style her beautiful curls. To love my face. All the delicate, and supposedly big parts of it.

I wish I knew then, that even if I didn’t fit anywhere in middle school, that I was accepted.

That if I didn’t fit the mold of what a pastor was supposed to look like, that I was made for a purpose.

That if I was naïve and saw too much good, that I was loved, and could show others this same love.

So others know they are also accepted. They also belong.

I don’t know what middle school lies you may be believing today. What mold you are being forced to fit into. Or who keeps telling you to give up on seemingly lost souls. Or even that you are one of them.

But it’s not true.

You are made for so much more. You are treasured. You are sacred. You are his. You’re beautiful.

He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

Through his eyes

In my job with students during the weekday, I get to spend my time supporting them in various activities. I have had the pleasure of learning how to play the saxophone. I have sat through many an assembly. Gone on a number of field trips, and completed a number of art projects. This was no different.

The assignment was 20 things. Each student had to turn to a page in their book and list 20 things that described themselves.

I noticed something. So many were struggling with those 20. Needed help even coming up with one. Looked around the room for a word. Even asked their peers to describe them, wrote what their peers said, or some word they over heard. “Oh yes, that’s me.”

It bothered me enough that I sat in the lunch room the next day and did the same thing. I wanted to make sure I was just as distracted. To see if this was the reason it was so hard. If I could come up with my own list of 20, or if I would need help along the way. If I would get stuck. Need to look around for validation. Seek the faces of the people around me for support.

‘Cause you stood right there, And then you broke apart the lies. You told me I had something beautiful inside. You brought to life the part of me I thought had died. ‘Cause you stood right there until I saw me; I saw me through your eyes  -Brit Nicole, Through Your Eyes

And I realized why it wouldn’t take me long. And, after seeing my list, why mine was so different than the lists of those preteens in that art class. Because words like forgiven and redeemed would not be on their lists. They were seeing themselves through the eyes of the world. Placing value on themselves based on the opinions of those around them.

I knew in the moment I wrote my 20 things who gave me my value: God. I see myself how He sees me.

But I didn’t always feel this way. I am pretty sure my preteen self looked to the world for approval. I didn’t seek God. I know for sure I didn’t have the relationship I have with Him now. My friends were much “cooler.” Or so I thought.

If I only knew what I know now. No one will love you like He will. No one will accept you in your brokenness like He will. No one will forgive you in the way He will. No one will see all your wretchedness, and look at you with tender love the way He will. No one can  see you the way He does. So stop looking at yourself through the lenses of everyone else, and start looking at yourself through His eyes.

https://youtu.be/WJzaQP1GmEc

If He sees beauty here…so will I

If creation sings your praises, so will I. -Hillsong UNITED

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I decided during my quiet time this week to do something a little different. Instead of my usual front porch sitting, I took my show on the road. I loaded up my Bible, my journal, and my pen, and headed to the lake in my local neighborhood in which I am blessed to live.

And, I just sat. Taking in all the beauty that surrounded me during that time. The big huge boulder that supported and anchored my back as I sat in the grass along the bank. The fireflies that danced and skimmed the waters surface. The water that rippled with the blowing winds, and the sun’s rays. The stray bird that flew through the air.

As I sat there, I realized that I needed to make sure that I spent more time doing this. Just sitting. Appreciating the beauty that surrounded me daily.

And, then I thought of something else.

What if I applied this to the body I was in? Saw beauty in it, and all that it has to offer? Walked into a room, not feeling uncomfortable, naked, and exposed? But, feeling like I belonged…because my Heavenly Father always sees beauty there?

This need to feel comfortable in my own skin. To see beauty where God sees it. To accept my quirks as gifts from Him, comes from the transformation I have witnessed in the last several weeks in my daughter.

My preteen, who still adorns her head with silly headbands, and professes she doesn’t care what others think, has now gained a certain slouch of shame when she witnesses the all to common changes that she is seeing in her body.  And, I know. I know she has witnessed this from me. Even heard many words of shame as I critique my body, my supposed personality flaws, my errors. Yes, modesty is key. Integrity. Righteousness. These are something for which we should strive. However, perfection doesn’t exist, and our personalities are usually given to us for a reason. Furthermore, being a woman should never be something of which we are ashamed.

Then there is my son. Neurologically different because of his autism. A condition that makes him look no different, but yet keeps his belly in knots with anxiety. In addition, he is also a bit socially awkward…sometimes saying and doing the wrong thing, at the absolute wrong time. Who now has a sister who will wrestle with her self-esteem. He will hear her negative self-talk. See her be uncomfortable in her skin, and begin to believe it may be alright to talk to women this way. To allow women to feel this way.

And what comes next, is the doubt she begins to feel when she hears someone tell her mom, “You sure are sassy!” She hears she needs to tone her spunk, her “go get em” attitude down a bit.

When she hears me lament about some part of my physical makeup that I don’t like. My tooth that’s crooked. My too curly hair I only started to make peace with, that is just like hers. She will in turn start to wonder if she is flawed as well.

When he becomes more aware of his differences (because as he gets older, they do become more apparent), will he continue to shrug off the kids that call him “nerd,” or “weird?” Will he be bothered by the fact that he truly is uncomfortable, because he doesn’t know how to interact in the space he is in? And, if I can’t see beauty in me. If she can’t see beauty in the skin she is in, he will in turn learn this is the norm.

Her spirit is diminished more and more, and the belief that she is truly fearfully and wonderfully made becomes overshadowed by the critiques and expectations of the world.

She forgets to see God’s beauty in the space she is in. In the body she occupies. In the personality He has given her.

He feels different because he is wired differently. Thinks differently. Is sometimes awkward. Often comes off as rude. Wonders why God made him this way, and forgets that He too…was made in His image. Autism, and all.

We are all messy, unique, quirky, weird, sassy, beautiful, funny, and glorious. In the space we are in. But, somewhere along the way, we will hear a different message.

I hear…she hears…he hears…we hear…You don’t measure up. You don’t fit in. You need to change.

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

 If He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made….so will I.

Because the tree just stands majestic. It may drop its leaves in silence when the time is right, but in due time, it buds again.

The flower isn’t told not to bloom. That its colors are too bold. Its fragrance too sweet. Its petals and design too quirky.

The bird isn’t told to sing a new song. That the one it chirps is too loud, not their style, or doesn’t sound quite right. It belts out its tune anyway.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. Psalm 139:13-14

That girl. That boy. This woman. You. Will walk into a room and feel comfortable in the space we are in. Not slouching. Standing tall and majestic. Not feeling awkward, or weird, or different. But, like an exotic flower that blooms boldly. Like a bird, singing a song, that may not be someone else’s style. It may be out of tune, and too loud.

But, if creation can sing praise for what God has made…then, so will I.

So will I.

Until His voice is louder

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“Whose voice is loudest in your life?” -Sadie Robertson

“You failed again.”

“Not good enough.”

“Yep. Told you they were right. Nothing redeeming in that one.”

“No one cares. No one is listening. Where is your God now?”

“Mmmmhmmmm. You messed up good this time. He isn’t coming to save you.”

Imperfect. Failure. Incompetent. Naive. Ineffective.

The voices that drown out the loving words of my Father, are the ones of criticism and contempt. These take residence in my head. Mess with my deepest insecurities and doubts. And, after they do, then Satan has done his job. Had me believing all the lies he and others have told me.

But, this is the thing about the devil:

“He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” John 8:44, MSG

And, the Liar fills our heads with them, too. Our homes. Our hearts. Our relationships.

I don’t want the loudest voice occupying space in my head to be the one that tells me how horrible I am. How unloved and unworthy I am. I don’t want the one occupying space in my home, my relationships to be the author of destruction.

I want the voice that speaks the loudest to me. The one that drowns out all the nonsense and lies of the world to be words of encouragement.

I don’t want the words that are the loudest to be reminding me every time I fall (because I do…flat on my face!)…but, to remind me of all the times I have gotten back up, and to gently pick me up when I don’t feel like I can go on, because that voice gives strength.

But, how do I push away those other voices-those dirty, lying, abusive, no good to me voices?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Stay in His word. Armed with His truth!

Just as Jesus was as he walked with Satan in the wilderness. Even the King of Kings wasn’t immune to the incessant, lying schemes of the enemy (Luke 4:1-13)

When Jesus needed sustenance, the devil used his voice to attempt to diminish God’s ability to provide: “Come on, Jesus. Can’t you provide your own bread if you are so great?” (v. 3)

When Jesus was suffering, hurt, broken, ready to give up…he offered him a way out; not once, but twice. “Come on, Jesus. Don’t you want all of this? This kingdom before you instead of that cross?” Jesus listened to God’s voice (v. 6-7).

“Come on, Jesus. Just jump and give up already! Your God will save you, won’t he?” (v. 9-11). But, Jesus once again listened to God. Each time rebuking the devil with God’s voice. He will be my provider. He will meet my needs. He is my one and only God. I will not test him.

Our critics. Our naysayers. The insecurities the devil knows so well…because he does. He knows them. Those negative thoughts cannot become the loudest voices in our heads.

The voice that needs to shout above all the lies that Satan attempts to throw at us while we walk in the wilderness needs to be our Father’s. The one that reminds us we are not failures, we are worthy. We are not imperfect, we are wonderfully made. We are not incompetent, we are qualified through Him; made powerful through His strength.

When the devil tries to tell us anything different, we shout the truth. When the devil tries to convince us to give up, we remember God’s word that encourages us to persevere. We make His voice the only one allowed to have permanent residency in our head.

Until His voice is the loudest!

 

His masterpiece

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

It’s another day down. Another day when I wake up, put on my “game face,” which means I bathed myself in prayer, opened up His Word, put on my battle gear, and vowed that I would stand against the attack from the enemy every step of the way.

But, I have to admit. I have been in a season when that enemy has been hounding me. He has been whispering lie after lie after lie. And…on those days when I pray, and I am ready to fight, that is when his voice gets louder.

See, he tells me I am useless. That I am not reaching anyone. That this light I hope is shining through the darkness is only burning out. He tells me that no one is listening. Really cares to hear what I have to say. It goes in one ear and out the other. I will never make a difference. That the cycles of despair and defeat will repeat themselves. My God will never use me to make a difference.

When the lies he starts to tell me don’t work, he uses people to try to convince me I am unworthy. Broken. Bruised. Damaged. Not capable. Until I start to believe all of it.

But, God? He tells me something different.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I was sculpted from nothing into something.     Psalm 139: 14, 15 MSG

He has made me.

Yes, I do have bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes. But, God has pieced this masterpiece together. There are hills and valleys that tell stories of triumphs and despair. Battles I have fought and won; and many more lost.

Yet, those bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes all tell the stories of those battles. The hills climbed to reach those triumphs, and the valleys where I often wallowed in defeat. Those scars, blemishes, and imperfections…those are the ones seen and picked apart by the outside world.

Thankfully, like any masterpiece I was crafted by my maker. Who believes I am altogether flawless.

Who placed those hills and valleys just where they are so they can be a testimony.

Who healed the wounds. The bruises. But left the scars and blemishes.

And, like a masterpiece counts me as priceless. Worth an exorbitant price.

Worthy enough to die for!