Learning to Love Myself, Even the Broken Parts

I have a big birthday coming up next month, and I’ve had a lot of angst anticipating this birthday.  I think what the Lord is showing me is that I have an unrealistic view of what “this age” looks like.  I’ve set up a standard that I should have it all together, my life figured out by now, and I’ve been panicking because I don’t.  The truth is that it’s never going to happen on this earth.  Perfection comes after this life, when I’m revealed in Christ to be fully myself, the one he created me to be.  That’s what sanctification is, and on this earth I’m still in process.

The last couple of days I was struggling to get out of a pit, lamenting the fact that here I was again.  In my time with the Lord, I sensed him tell me, “I love you whether you’re healed or not.”  I’m thinking if Jesus loves me just as I am, shouldn’t I love myself that way too?  If I place a higher standard on myself than the Lord does, is that not idolatry?  Because it’s saying, “I know better than you, God.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t desire to be healed and seek Christ for it.  The truth is that because of those wounded places in my heart, I’m driven to seek him more earnestly, and my intimacy with him grows.  Our broken places are where we often have the strongest encounters with the Lord.  And then out of those places where I’ve been broken and experienced healing, he can use me to be a vessel of compassion and understanding, offering hope to those with similar struggles.

So the challenge that I’m taking up and offering to you is to thank God for every struggle and see it as not just a place that needs to be “fixed,” but a place where we can encounter Jesus.  Sometimes it’s very hard to connect in those places because the pain is too great.  But we can whisper, “Jesus, come and get me.  Be with me here,” and he’s right there.  He always has been.  He was with us when we were first wounded in that place.  

Let’s recognize that there are little girls in us that have been broken, and when they are triggered, they hurt.  They cry.  They are “stuck” in the space and time where the original wounding took place.  We should ask Jesus to minister to them, yes, but we can also minister to them ourselves, from our core soul.  We do that by loving them and treating them as very valuable parts of ourselves because they are.  When we stop and recognize that the pain that put us in a pit is coming from a different part of ourselves, we are on the path to healing.

I’m now excited about my upcoming birthday and what God has in store for me in this new chapter.  And I am at peace knowing all I ever have to be is who he made me to be.  These are words from an old Amy Grant song that speaks to my heart, and I’ll leave them with you:

When the weight of all my dreams is resting heavy on my head 
And the thoughtful words of help and hope have all been nicely said
But I’m still hurting, wondering if I’ll ever be the one
I think I am…I think I am.  
Then you gently re-remind me that you made me from the first 
And the more I try to be the best, the more I get the worse.  
And I realize the good in me
Is only there because of who you are…who you are
And all I ever have to be is what you’ve made me 
Any more or less would be a step out of your plan  
As you daily recreate me, let me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find  
And all I ever have to be…all I have to be
All I ever have to be is what you’ve made me.  
(“All I Ever Have to Be,” Amy Grant)

A Lesson from Baby Birds

There are baby birds on the feeder outside my window, the momma right below on the ground.  Yesterday I saw a momma robin hopping along with a worm in her mouth.  I’m seeing a picture, a metaphor.  When the baby birds are still helpless in the nest, momma bird brings them food and drops it into their gaping mouths.  Then when they are able, they venture out to find food on their own.  Two things stand out—when they are in the nest, they must have their mouths wide open in order to receive the nourishment that they need to grow.  And when they are strong enough, they must venture out to seek their own food or they will die. 

The Word tells us to seek God, that we will find him when we seek him with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).  Before we receive Christ, we are also in a helpless state.  Once we have found him and receive him into our hearts, we have to continue seeking him if we want to grow.  Jesus speaks in the parables of searching for him as treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44).  In every situation of life that I find myself in, I should ask, “Where can I find you in this moment, Lord, and how can I connect with you here?”  

In these uneasy days when we’re experiencing a global pandemic and racial unrest across the country because of the horror of a white police officer restraining a black man until he died, all caught on video for the world to see, it’s hard to know how to respond, to know what to do.  But it all begins with our intimacy with the Lord, for even Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19).  We can talk about it and fret about it and even join protests, but without God, nothing will truly change.

I’m asking the question now, “Where are you in this and how do I align with you, Lord?”  What does “Christ in me” look like here?  Maybe the world is changed one life at a time.  “Change me, Lord, in how I think about this.  What do I need to know about myself in this situation in order to receive what I need from you?”  And ultimately, “What does love look like here?”

The Word says, “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).  It all starts with God.  Just like the baby bird will never be able to fly on its own unless it receives what it needs from its momma, we won’t be the light of the world unless we’re willing to humble ourselves and receive from the Lord.  Jesus is our model.  After he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on the cross, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:8-9).  First comes humility, then comes power. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that will change us.

Jesus, rescue me from my frenetic thoughts and my anxiety and help me to breathe.  I want to be changed.  I want to connect with you intimately in the sanctuary of your Holy Spirit, where you dwell, “Christ in me.”  Teach me your ways.  Help me to love as you love.  Amen.