when i was a teenager, i had mostly stopped lying but had taken up relationships with "bad boys." whoever told me i was pretty or complimented me on my basketball game the other night or said i did a good job acting out "romeo and juliet" in class; i clung to them. they instantly became the object of my affection despite other people around me giving me the, "what on earth are you thinking," look. i always had a deep down tug. knowing i deserved more but unable to pull myself together.
this past year, our staff at G.O. threw me a surprise party for my 30th birthday. they came up with a list of "30 things they love about goody." they made me read it out loud in front of everyone. as I was reading things like, "your positive attitude about overcoming fears," or "your sensitive heart for those in need," or "you are willing to be vulnerable which invites others to be vulnerable with you," i began to tear up. i was as uncomfortable as i could have possibly been. but i felt a sense of empowerment too. which was immediately followed by guilt for my enjoyment while reading things about myself that others thought. which made me cry harder. little did our staff know, i had a raging battle going on inside me. a battle that had been going on for 30 years.
this fall, as i began working with the young girls in the hole i felt a lot of anxiety. feeling like i needed to have a standard set. i needed so many girls to come to christ in order for me to be successful. i needed to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies by 30% in order to prove that i was being useful there. as i was thinking all of these things to myself i knew god was doing something big in me. it wasn't about my need to please or my fear of failure or my over-dependency on people's approval. it was so much deeper. and it wasn't until i went away this weekend on a little retreat with my family that god bull-horned into my heart exactly what has been going on my entire life.
i had to take emi for her nap and thought i would peruse a book shelf and read something while i was waiting for her to fall asleep. i didn't peruse at all. the first book i saw, i felt drawn to. it had never been opened and the pages were crisp and as my eyes fell upon the words there was a heat that welled up in my chest. And then I read it:
"The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it."
i was brought to tears the instant i read it. i am brought to tears now as i write it. i knew it was the answer i had been looking for; the thing God has wanted to tell me since the day i took my first breath on this earth.
it all came together. it all made sense. why did i lie when i was a kid about the clothes i wore, or the money my parents made or that i was going to have a kangaroo at my birthday party? why did i cling so tightly to worthless boys who said something nice but had nothing else to offer me? why did i feel so uncomfortable reading a list of 30 supposedly amazing things about me that my dearest friends wrote? because satan's assault on my heart for the last 30 years has been to make me believe i'm not good enough. to make believe that i am not beautiful, or worthy or glorious in my own eyes, so how could i be to the Creator of the universe?
satan knows that if he convinced me to be fearful, and to doubt my worth, and to believe i wasn't good enough or to question God's divine plan for my life...he could paralyze me. he could banish me to a life of mundane living. he could rob me of the glory God wants to shine through me for all the world to see. he wants to keep me from telling other people, especially these broken, defeated girls in the hole, that they are a glorious reflection of God, too.
i've known most of my life that this world is at war. maybe in a more real way than many people do. i've always been aware of spiritual warfare and satan's dominion on this earth. but i had always assumed his biggest assaults were in things like, oppression and starvation and abuse. i had been blind to the fact that, in my life, he was sneakily carrying out one of his biggest, most damaging, most successful assaults that he is capable of...
...keeping me from knowing just how amazing i am.
just typing those words made me shudder a little bit. there's a little bit of a knot in my throat thinking about how people who may be reading this might react to a statement like that. but before i downward spiral into a series of explanations and retractions and studdering let me say it again. i am amazing. i am a glorious reflection of God himself. an image bearer of the Creator of the universe. i am resilient and passionate and strong. i care deeply about others and hate that satan held me captive in a lie for 30 years. and above all...i am crazy-passionate about fighting for people's freedom. and before you think that any of this is prideful or boasting or an ego trip...i'm going to let you in on a little secret; you are amazing too.
we are god's children. his glory reigns in us. he has given us all of the power we need to stomp on satan and his schemes and rescue his dear ones who are suffering. but it begins with you. believing that you are worth it. believing that you are God's most greatest joy. believing that satan has nothing on you. because he knows "what you could be and fears it." and i'll tell you what. this morning when i woke up, he shuddered when my feet hit the floor.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Nelson Mandela
(side note: the book i'm reading is called "Waking the Dead" by John Eldredge. I, obviously, highly recommend it.)