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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Reflections on “self-love”

There’s a misconception that to love oneself, you are not surrendering yourself to God. I read somewhere recently in fact that indicated that loving oneself was wrong, and unbiblical. Selfish, is the word the writer used; stating it takes our eyes off God. That the only way to truly love oneself is to love others without boundaries.

It was on the internet. There were tons of comments. I didn’t rant underneath it. I didn’t unfollow. I agreed to disagree, moved on, and looked in the Bible instead. To what God has revealed to me over a number of months.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36-39

As yourselves.

So the question: How do we truly love our neighbor if we hate ourselves? Shouldn’t we know how immensely God loves us and embrace that first?

Yes. Because I have loved without boundaries, and it has left me feeling useless, unworthy, and forgotten. Totally unloveable. I didn’t know the first thing about love (I talk about that journey here and here), and I took the time to talk to God about it.

Love others as you love yourself. Love yourself. As God has loved you. Know His love, accept His love, and wear it like a crown, so you can show His love to others.

That’s what He revealed to me. And knowing whose you are, and who you are; and loving that is not selfish. Love is God’s tool for us to use to light the world, but never to the point we begin to doubt His love for us. That’s not love. Not healthy love, anyway.

Through that time I also wrote a personal mission statement. A statement to remain in His love, and honor the love He has given me, so I would never question my worth. I am here to tell you: If you don’t know the love of God, you won’t truly know what it means to love others as yourself.

Personal Manifesto

I will embrace forgiveness and grace from my Heavenly Father, and forgive myself for the mistakes I have made. I may walk with a limp, but that limp tells the story of a woman so dependant on her Father for survival, of a woman so blessed. So beautiful. Broken, but made new and whole.

I will not look to this world for approval. I will embrace the fact that I am already approved, set apart, and made great by my Maker.

I can not control the thoughts and actions of others. Only they can.

I cannot fix people. Make them nicer. Make them more respectful. Make their lives better. Only God can.

I will continue to be kind, despite unkindness. Because it’s what Jesus would do.

I will, however, honor myself and my well-being by choosing not to be in the presence any longer of people who treat others with hate. Choosing to pray for changed hearts instead.

I can choose to stay away from toxic people. Those who consistently tear down and suck the life out of me. Realizing my kindness may never make a difference in some cases. Choosing to pray for changed hearts instead.

I can and will put my needs first when it’s necessary. My desire to foster positive and healthy physical, mental and spiritual health is not at all selfish. It’s mandatory.

I can and will set boundaries around my heart. Choosing to let go of people who consistently reject and abuse them.

I will decide not to be defined by the world’s standards of success. Knowing that riches fade, but kind, loving souls and hearts don’t.

I will not lose hope. I will realize that bad things exist. People mistreat people. But there is also good in the world. I will make a point to look for the good.

I will honor who I am in Him through my words, my thoughts, and my actions. Teach others how to treat me, and model to the world what love truly is. Love for God, love of the person He has made me to be, and love for others. Even those that are unloveable.

I will be me. Unapologetically.

It’s not selfish to honor this daily. To practice habits that demonstrate your value and your worth. To care for and love yourself. These steps give us the capacity to love others in ways we never have before. Without any agenda. Without any motive. With only the love of God. That love He so freely has given to us.

Offered to all. Unselfish as He is. Worthy to be celebrated and honored in the person you were made to be! As magnificent as he/she is.

Claim it. Own it. Put your personal “stamp” on your mission to “love yourself” as He loves you!

The truth about love and lists

I am here to be real. To be straight up. To share the messy. The truthful. And if you remember, I had some issues about love and what it meant for me a couple months back. All because I was tasked with making a list.

I shared a little about that assignment and how it made me feel here.

That assignment. It changed me. In a good way. I didn’t make that list. But it wasn’t an act of defiance. The fact that I didn’t ever make that list, is actually a good thing.

Because, I took the time to read through the Bible. To read what God says about me. About His love for me. And he lists a lot of things. Many reasons why I should feel loved everyday.

I don’t plan on ever making a list.

Because love isn’t a list of shoulds and should nots.
It’s not a list of I do this, and then you do that. Because love isn’t conditional.
It’s not a list of what is right or wrong.

I don’t need a list in the morning to tell me to spend time with God. I do it because I have a desire to. I don’t need a notification, or someone to remind me to do so. I do it because I crave a connection with him. I want to have a conversation with him.

It’s because I love him. And If I don’t spend that time with him. If I don’t have that conversation. My day is all jacked up.

I don’t need a list to tell me that this spending time…that it is part of knowing love, being loved, and loving someone.

So I’m not finishing that list. Because there’s already one in the Bible. And it’s read at weddings…and it’s a call to Christians about loving each other. But sometimes I don’t see it or feel it.

What’s even more funny, is I read and prayed over this list every day for several years…but I didn’t feel it myself. Until I started praying it for myself. It’s a list all about love and how we can express it freely without money or material things.

It’s found in 1 Corinthians 13.
Paul writes to the Corinthian church all about love. It’s expression. The way we are to show it to others. The way we feel it from others. This love comes from God, and it’s our outward action to those around us. Whether in romantic relationship, or simply because we are a reflection of how He expresses it to us, and expects us to do the same.

It’s our list.
It’s been read so many times. Dissected so many times. Countless weddings have had this passage as the reading that defines the joining of two people. But…do we do what it says. Do we live it out? Do we actively express it? Do we feel it from each other? See it in each other?

And I’ll be honest. I couldn’t read it a couple months ago. I could not get through this chapter. It hurt. It felt like it applied to everyone but me. Like God wanted me to do these things, but I didn’t think I was worthy of receiving them.

I was oh so wrong.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, MSG

Here is my suggestion: Stop making lists. Of wrongs. Or even rights. We already have one. In the Bible. A list of how we are to show and be loved. Are the people we love these things? Are you these things? Do you feel these? See these? Are you doing these?

There’s your list. That’s how you love. Because He did it first. There isn’t a list needed. It’s all right here.

He gave His love to you. Now you…you go give it to someone else. But, start with God…and yourself first. The rest will flow later. That’s the only requirement for this list. Love Him. Love yourself as He loves you. Then go and love them.

I learned a lot about what I thought I was missing. What I thought I knew about love. Where it really came from the entire time. It was right there all along. From my Heavenly Father.

Maybe you have looked in all the wrong places for far too long. Maybe you have made lists, only to come up empty. Still yearning. Still wondering if you, or the people you give your love to are worthy.

They are. Because He says they are. You are. Because He says you are.

Want to know more? More of what I learned in my seeking to know more about what He loved about me? I’m still learning, we all are. We always are. But I’m willing to share what I am learning, as I learn to love the person God pursues daily.

I am writing about it for the next few weeks here on the blog, and you can join me, and maybe even trash your list of what the world tells you about love.

So you can fill up on His

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

The spirit of love

love pendant necklace

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

“For the whole law can be summed up in this command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

It has been said when discussing the act of finding love, that the secret to loving another person is to love oneself first.

Some may see this as selfish, but when looking at the command “to love others as ourselves,” it is hard not to consider the way we treat the very one whom God has made and loved.

In order to love our neighbor we must love the spirit of His love that lives in us. It is the same spirit that drives us to honor ourselves. To embrace the person He has made us to be.

Galatians 5:22-23 lists the spirit that dwells in us when are are one with Christ, and know His love-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is these very same fruits that work to help us love one another. Ourselves. And our neighbors.

Think about it. Would you treat yourself with contempt? Not be gentle with oneself, and then expect to be able to treat others with respect and gentleness? Probably not likely.

How do we practice this love in the way we treat ourselves, and then in turn show this to others?

Be joyful. Knowing that life isn’t always positive, but we can walk through our days radiating joy through laughter. Being grateful for what is good, and speaking without negativity. This joy can then be demonstrated to others in the way we approach them. Do we smile when we see them? Do we point out those things that make us proud of them?

Be at peace with where you are on your journey. Accepting trials as God’s way of helping you grow. So that you can accept the journey of growth in those you love as well.

This also requires patience. Knowing some things change and some things take time. Your growth takes time. The growth of others will, too. But it is also being present and patient when we feel life is in a rush-not tapping our foot and huffing at the person in front of you in the checkout, but realizing they most certainly probably have places to go, too.

Love demonstrates faith, not only in God, but also in others. Faith that our righteousness, and our goodness will shine for others to see. The goodness that is shown through honesty. Our ability to acknowledge when we are wrong. Our ability to ask for forgiveness. Our desire to be who we say we are in public, as well as in private. So that people have faith in our word, and grow to trust us and in turn Him.

When times get hard. When we mess up and fall, we control our tongue. The things we say to ourselves. We don’t believe the lies that cause us to feel shame, so that when someone else fails, as they will-we will know just the right words to say so they don’t feel it either.

We give ourselves a break when we are unlovable. Offer a second chance. Words of kindness and love.

And as we know we would want gentle words spoken to us in our knothead moments, we must speak the same words of love to others. In all our interactions. With ourselves in our moments of weakness. With all people. Even those that are not so kind to us.

In everything we do, and everything we say-we must always demonstrate His spirit of love.

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.

“Real” Love….getcha some.

I’m going to show my age here. Urban Cowboy. It’s a movie. John Travolta. Not so Grease and Saturday Night Fever cool.

Common boy meets girl, fall in love, fall out of love, do whatever you can do to make each other jealous until you realize…well darn, he really was the one type of movie.

Classic.

I remember the movie. Yes. But, I remember one of the songs even more. Probably because when I think of this song it brings to mind a late friend. Singing it over and over in the middle of my living room, doing the same exact thing: “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places/Lookin’ for love in too many faces.”

Sound familiar?

Looking for acceptance from the number of likes on your Insta post.

Looking for approval from the “in” crowd. The “cool” kids.

Changing who you are, or ditching your own goals because someone else has told you they were lame. All because he or she “loves” you.

Looking for love from the first person who looks extra long at you, or gives you a sideways glance, even if they may be oh-so-wrong for you. Even if you know this already. You need love.

Looking for attention from those who will laugh at any little thing you do, even if it’s not some nice stuff. Maybe some downright cruel stuff.

You will change your style to find love.

You will do whatever you can to lose weight for love.

You will give up on a dream for love.

You will forget who you are.

All for what you believe to be love.

Love like that. The kind that demands you be someone you are not. The kind that is all based on that “Ooooohhhh. Aaaaahhhhh. I need that” feeling. It’s fleeting. It goes away once that “need” goes away. And then you move on to something else.

There is, however, a love that never leaves.

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” Jeremiah 31:3, MSG

It’s the love that comes from our Creator.

How would I know?

Because I knew the fleeting kind of love. I knew the kind that caused me to sell myself short because someone “loved” me. Because it was “cool.” Because I “needed” something.

But when I realized that all I ever needed to be was wholly and gloriously me in the eyes of God. That I could be accepted in all my broken pieces, and he would love me anyway, and create in me something new and amazing-I didn’t need the approval of the world anymore.

Love found me. It loves me when I am unloveable. It pushes me towards a dream that is all my own. It knows my personality. My style. What I bring to the table. To the room. The space I am in, and uses that, because He put that in me. He loves those gritty, fiesty, inner fighter parts of me.

The world will look at those parts and see something different, and there was a time that used to break me down. But I’m not looking for love from those faces.

I’m looking for it from One place. The One.

Because I’ve never known anything else quite like it.

Want that kinda love? The “real” kind. Unconditional. Everlasting. You can getcha some, too. It’s pretty amazing.

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

Not Today

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I’ll sing the night into the morning
I’ll sing the fear into Your praise
I’ll sing my soul into Your presence
Whenever I say Your Name
Let the devil know not today. -Hillsong

These are the words of a song I heard while driving home on a summer afternoon a little over a year ago. I heard it a day on which Satan had been beating me up badly. “You are not good enough. See, look at what has happened. What will people think of you now?”

I had just found out I was about to become a grandma…and my biggest worry was everyone else’s expectations of me.

But, really I have been here for a long time. Living up to everyone else’s expectations. What I needed to look like. How my kids should act. Who I should be at church. At work. As a parent. How I carried myself. Whether I said “ask,” or pronounced it “ax.” I never thought I measured up to what the world expected, and Satan uses this any time he can.

Not today!

I started posting that message all around me when his voice started to get louder, as the expectations of who I needed to be became too much to handle.

It’s on my bathroom mirror, so when I look into it each morning, see something different than what God sees, and start to pick apart my flaws, my first response instead is “Not today, Satan!”

It is on my coffee pot so I can repeat it to myself before I get my “cup of courage” and the day becomes too crazy. It even adorns the mug I use each morning as I hurry about the house, or spend time in His word.

It is on my steering wheel as I head into work, on my planner while I work; all to keep those all too familiar “not good enough” thoughts that creep up in this particular place at bay as I walk into classes feeling incapable-“Not today, Satan!”

It serves as a reminder that all the expectations that the devil places in my head. The ones that make me feel inadequate, are the world’s…not God’s. He created me. My edges. My weaknesses. My struggles. My mistakes and flaws are made perfect through Him. And, everything the world thinks is a fatal flaw, God will use for His glorious purpose.

They remind me that the devil has never filled my head with anything but lies. Tore apart my soul, and tries daily to strip me of my worth.

He didn’t succeed yesterday. And, he won’t today. No. No. Not today.