For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the “Good Girl.” The kind one. The honest one. The encouraging one. The happy one. The good one. I knew the right things to do and say: what my family wanted, what my friends wanted, even what I thought God wanted. I was polished on the outside, doing all the “right” things, but on the inside, I was selfish. I was angry. I felt inadequate. I was driven by performance and perfection.
Sometimes, saying we can’t overcome sin is an excuse to avoid the hard work of sanctification and enjoy living in it a little longer. But more often than not, laziness isn’t the problem. We are scared. Scared of what lurks in the dark corners of our heart. Scared that if we dig too deep we will discover something about ourselves that we don’t like. Scared of being vulnerable. Scared of being found out. Scared of the shame of our own shadows.
For as long as I can remember, my biggest insecurity has been my quiet personality. I’m not overly talkative, I’m not super outgoing, and I’m not the life of the party by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t get me wrong - I love to have fun. And the friends who know me well have plenty of stories. But I remember coming away from so many parties and get togethers beating myself up for not saying enough. I felt like I had nothing to offer in group situations and wondered if people really wanted me there.
I am strong. I am not one to shy away from conflict. I am outspoken. I like to ask people to be friends with me. I like to tell people the things I like about them - even if I don’t know their name. Although this might sound like a good thing, sometimes this trait can be perceived as too strong. When people point this out, I tend to shrink into my turtle shell and shut down, believing the lie that I need to change, that my personality is too much for others to handle.
You know you’ve messed up. How could anyone love you anymore? No matter what you do, there is nothing that can atone for your mistakes. Yet your husband comes and pursues you, like you are priceless. What kind of love is this?
One of my good friends and I decided we were going to change the meaning of New Year’s resolutions for ourselves. We decided to do one thing every day that scares us. We realized that we were letting fear control our life choices - fear of what others think, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Do I take a chance at failing and do this thing in front of me, or do I ignore it and go on with my life? This is much like Jonah’s situation.
You’re not good enough. You’re ugly. You’re not thin enough. You’re not smart enough. The voices get so loud that I can’t focus on anything else. As I stare into the mirror, the feeling that I’m worthless plagues my mind and suffocates me. My joy is gone. But what if our perspective meant more than our perfection?
Freedom, just for the sake of freedom, will breed rebellion in our hearts. Freedom for the sake of seeking the heart of God though, breeds life; it causes us to experience the love of God in a pure way.
He stepped down from heaven to move to earth. To us. The real estate wasn’t better, that’s for sure. His motivation wasn’t better scenery and a shorter commute. His move to us was to make a way for us to move toward Him.
If I were to imagine myself there in Bethlehem all those years ago, walking toward baby Jesus in His manger, I imagine I would be met with an inner conflict. Yes, this baby is to be the Savior of the world; however, I think I would be wrestling with the thought of how dirty I felt in His presence. He was born as an act of love to save me, yet if this baby could comprehend all the struggles in my brain and all the sins I wrestle with…well, wouldn’t that be a tad inappropriate?