I wake up, two-year-old in my face. I draw him close to snuggle, buried under covers. He talks to me in only partially comprehensible language, but I cherish the love we share. He is safe and secure in my love for him. After a moment, he makes his requests and says, “Mommy, get up.”
Today is Easter, a day to remember our Hope is in our Risen Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for me. What You gave was given back to us all in measureless proportions. Help me to offer myself to You today. You never require more from me than I can give. Whatever parts of myself I give to You today is enough, and You take my broken pieces and make me whole in You. My true self, identity, is as Your beloved Daughter.
You know my doubts and flaws, but that doesn’t hinder Your love for me for even a moment. When I struggle to believe that You are for me, not disappointed with me, and not mad at me for struggling, You show me Your love in what’s right before me - in my two-year-old snuggled close, a whispered, “I love you”, a gentle breeze with the warmth of the sun, a text from a friend. You remind me that I am not forgotten. I am loved and cherished by You.
For so many years, I have lived under the weight of shame, believing that You would never accept me because of the darkness I hid. I tried so hard to dress up my exterior and kill my interior so I could be worthy of love. When all along, You already accepted me. You want me to open up my dark places so Your light can illuminate and heal me.
Opening myself up to Truth and Light has been an excruciating process. It was easier to bury the pain, deny the unacceptable parts of myself, justify, and pretend all is well; but, I was dead inside. I lied a lot - mostly to myself. I lied about my childhood, habits, struggles, emotions, fears, hurts, and failures. I was so desperate for love, I thought if anyone really knew me, they would abandon me. Deep down, I believed I would never be good enough for God either.
I perfected a positive, strong front, saying the right things, and looking good. But the pain inside gnawed at me and I would turn to food for relief and then purge it out only to start over - AGAIN! I blamed myself for so much of the dysfunction in my life, and I hated myself all the more. I soaked up the ‘do more, try harder’ gospel, and made lists and resolutions to ‘do better.’ I punished myself when I failed.
God, in His love for me, stripped me of my cover-up life. He took me out of the church that focused on externals so that He could find me - all alone, hurting, and wanting. He rescued me. He understood my anger, mistrust, and hatred towards myself and Him. I was so afraid that He would hurt and punish me, but He gently wooed me with His love. He proved Himself trustworthy to me, and slowly I opened up my heart to Him.
Still ashamed, I dared to let my secrets out so His healing Light could touch the dark places of my life. Sharing with other safe people has been one of the most liberating things in my life. Truly, Jesus bore my sins and my shame on the cross. His sacrifice makes me right with God so I can come before Him unashamed as. I. am.
I admit, living numb and in denial was easier, but I was dead! My life and suffering were empty and purposeless. God wants to give us life, to take our suffering and turn it into something beautiful. Though the path to wholeness and healing is painful and feels like a lot of loss, we gain purpose and hope - which are worth living for. We find our true selves, hidden in Christ! He redeems our suffering and His love satisfies and heals our souls.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Suffering is part of being ALIVE - it’s part of becoming whole and acknowledging my whole life story.
“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means.” Brennan Manning
God’s grace is not conditioned by my correct understanding of Him or my performance, but solely on the fact that He purchased me at the cross. He proved that I am wanted and adopted me into His family. God accepted me all along even when I was so lost and searching. He was with me even then. He is the One who heals and redeems my life. He is the One who has given me life and enlightens me! He is in my every breath! He is everywhere and longs to open my eyes and heart to His great love for me and others.
In His love, I can rest.