Friday, January 8, 2016

Don't talk about my child that way...

Last night...
I drop my oldest daughter off at work and head back towards home.
I'm about halfway there when she calls me, upset.

Me: Hello?
Her: I am the worst.
Me: What?
Her: I wore the wrong shoes and they won't let me work without the right ones.

She then launches into a defensive, yet self deprecating monologue about how they've let her before and it isn't fair and how she is dumb and terrible and etc etc.

Me: Just stop.
Her: I need my shoes.
Me: Okay. 
(Momentary silence)

She starts back up again... never once actually asking me to get her shoes for her.

Me: Stop. Repeat after me. Mom, I need my work shoes. Could you go in the house and get them from ______________ and bring them to me at work, please?
Her: I don't know where they are. I looked for them earlier but... 
Me: (Interrupting) Then try this: Mom, I need my work shoes. Could you go in the house find my shoes and bring them to me at work, please?

She complies. Finally.

It takes awhile to find her shoes, but once I do, I send her a text and jump into the car to make the 7 minute trip back to her work. She's waiting outside when I pull up and opens the door, reaching in to grab the shoes.

Her: (With a pained expression on her face) I'm terrible... I...
Me: Stop! Just say thank you.
Her: Thank you! I love you!
Me: I love you too. Bye!

As emotional teenager moments go, this was relatively mild. But driving away I thought how frustrating it was that she was so busy apologizing for her mistake and tearing herself down that she didn't ask for help or say thank you until she was reminded. 

I am human, and I get frustrated sometimes. I also will not pull her out of every situation she gets herself into. But she didn't even ask for help until I told her to because she was so focused on her mistake instead of the fact that I am her mom and I love her.

And all the tearing herself down, saying things about herself that aren't true... doesn't she know who she is to me? She's my child. Regardless of the mistakes she makes, I think she's pretty fantastic. Nobody should feel free to talk about my child that way... not even my child.

I remember when I used to go to God that way for help. 

I'd start off by telling Him how awful and stupid I was. I'd tell Him I was sorry for my mistake or bad choice, but then I'd complain about the consequences and throw in a little about how it wasn't all my fault, just in case it might make Him a little less angry. I was so focused on myself, I couldn't see that He wasn't angry at all.

I think about how it felt to hear my beautiful, smart, talented, highly favored and dearly loved daughter tear herself to bits with her words over a pair of forgotten shoes, and realize how it must have sounded to God when His beautiful, smart, talented, highly favored and dearly loved daughter tore herself to pieces with her words over her own human mistakes in the same way. 

Understanding who we are to anyone, what they think of us, what their expectations of us are, changes the way we interact with them on all levels. It decides whether we approach someone with confidence or trepidation. It determines how we interpret and react to their actions as well. It is so important to communicate to others who they are to us.

God knows that. That's why He provided us with written proof of who we are to Him. It's all in the Bible. 

Below is one of many verses that tells us what God thinks of us...

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
~Zephaniah 3:17

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
~Proverbs 23:7

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Who are you?

This has been a year of big changes for me, spiritually speaking. I don't think I could have a more different view of God now than I did this time last year without being something other than a Christian.

The things I've learned about God are rarely taught in most churches these days. And while I dearly love the churches I've gone to over the years, and have great respect for their leaders, I can't help but wonder why the things that changed my entire outlook on life, were not things I learned on a Sunday morning.

I've spent years believing that I had to act right to be acceptable to God, believing that I was spitting in Jesus' face, or trampling His grace under my feet whenever I sinned. I've listened to hundreds of messages that drove me to look inward, at myself, and how I should be doing a better job of being a Christian... how I was obligated to "do better" because of His sacrifice.

And I tried. I tried so hard and failed again and again. As I failed, discouragement would increase until, eventually, I would give up in some way. Usually not too long after, I found myself asking God for forgiveness and trying again. And while I never doubted my salvation, I always knew that when I got to Heaven some day, God would be letting me in begrudgingly, with an eye roll and a shrug.

Even when things looked good to the outside world, I was hurting. Early 2015 saw me in a struggle that made me feel like my best option was to just let God give up on me... because I couldn't get it right. One bad choice spiraled into several and I was so close to not trying anymore.

Oh, how wrong I had it... and I'm so thankful to know.

I remember one of my moments of revelation from this year. Joseph Prince said that either I was righteous because of grace, or I was righteous because I am doing the right things... works... and that I couldn't have it both ways. The moment I tried to pay for His sacrifice with works, I was discounting what He had done on the cross.

It was a light-bulb moment. When I began to comprehend that my sins: past, present and future, had already been forgiven, that feeling of obligation to do the right thing was broken. Suddenly, I wasn't obligated to do anything "right," yet, I wanted to... more than ever.

What a freeing feeling... knowing that God already saw me as righteous... that while I had been declaring myself "a sinner, saved by grace" I should have been calling myself what I really am... "the righteousness of God in Christ."

Over the course of the last year, I have come to learn that when God sees me, He doesn't see a sinner at all. He sees so much more. Below is something I put together that shows just some of the things God says I am... and the good news is... He says you are these things too.

I read it to myself often, saying the words out loud. Not to make them more true, but to help me understand and believe it. Romans 12:12 says that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That's what reading this out loud to myself does.

I can't help but believe it makes Satan shake a bit... because no one is more dangerous to him than someone who knows who she is in Christ.