Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Three

Our move to Nashville was uncomfortable and definitely inconvenient. Then just two years later, we moved again. This time 5000 miles away to Hawaii. A beautiful, but isolated, island deep in the Pacific, more than 2000 miles from the mainland. Literally the deep, deep South, Y’all and far, far West, dude.

I left friends…again. Left family…again. Didn’t have any of my familiar “markers” to comfort me…again. Had to find and familiarize myself with new schools, new friends, new culture, new sports leagues, new grocery stores and new doctors…again.

Even more difficult, our kids left friends, schools, youth groups, and sports teams…again.

And once again, God gently began to unearth – like a shovel tilling soil – the areas in my life where I was looking to the wrong things for my security.

It’s hard to see with long-term perspective when you’re hurting and in the middle of difficult circumstances, but through the years, I’ve come to realize that God will always use the shaking, stirring, chipping, molding in my life to build something special. Something of greater worth to God that will bring him glory and be a blessing to others.

You see, God wants to do something in you so He can do something even greater through you.

And as a sculptor chips away at a marble slab to unveil something beautiful hidden within the marble, God will chip, mold, and shape your life to unveil the true beauty of who He created you to be.

Even in the pain.

Even in the loneliness.

Even in the loss.

Even in the uncertainty.

Your story is unique. Your personality and gifts are like no one else’s. In fact, the Bible says, you are God’s workmanship. His masterpiece.

In case you don’t believe me, let’s read Ephesians 2:10 and catch a glimpse of how God sees you. (This is a good one to write down and memorize.)

Paul writes,

“For we are God_s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

YOU are God’s handiwork, his workmanship. He created you for a specific purpose. All of your difficulties, all of your challenges, all of your struggles can be used for God’s greater purpose. God has an amazing ability to use average, broken people to display his love and power to the world.

Oftentimes, the temptation is to desperately search for what’s missing in our lives and lose sight of what we have been given – the blessing of what’s right in front of us!

In an attempt to rekindle our zest for life and purpose, we go searching for it.

We think, “Perhaps I should get a new job or career?”

Or, “Maybe things will be different if I move to a new city or make new friends?”

Or perhaps, “Should try a new school or get a new hobby?”

And sometimes, this helps.

But most of the time, after awhile, the same problems turn up there, too.

Because the real challenge for us lays not so much in the circumstances around us as it has to do with something within us.

In those moments of confusion, discouragement, monotony and uncertainty its easy to default to looking at the wrong things, the wrong people and the wrong places for worth and value.

But what would happen if, instead of trying to fix our problems by changing our circumstances, we allowed God to change us?  

You are of great worth to God. His masterpiece. Do not doubt that. You are not “not enough”, but more than enough because of a gracious, loving and merciful God who desires to do immeasurably more in your life.

In the routine of life, God has a beautiful treasure for you. In your everyday activities, He desires for you to live fulfilled and satisfied. Through the dark and difficult times, He has made his peace and grace available to you.

God wants to rekindle your passion for life, not by necessarily changing your circumstances, surroundings or physical appearance, but by slowly, gently, graciously changing you to reveal your true selfie.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, The Life of the Beloved writes, “The spiritual life is not simply a way of being, but also a way of becoming.”1

Take a moment to consider…

  • What are some places or things you look to for your security and worth? Why?
  • What things stand in your way from seeing your life as preciously created by God for a unique and special purpose?
  • Why is it sometimes easier for us to change our circumstances than it is to allow God to change us?

 

1 Nouwen, as quoted by Staci Eldredge in Captivating: A Guided Journal(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005) p. viii

 

 

Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Two

My meltdown years ago on that stormy night in the snowy Nashville parking lot was not the only time I’ve struggled as a mom to grasp my identity. In the midst of a new, changing or unfamiliar seasons still, with over twenty years of motherhood and marriage, I encounter situations and circumstances that rattle me, exposing fears, insecurities and weaknesses I didn’t even know I had.

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience when you…

  • Started a new job
  • Moved to a new city
  • Sent a child off to college
  • Walked through health issues
  • Navigated an unexpected divorce
  • Had a baby

It’s during seasons like these, I have to continually remind myself to place my worth in the right places. Not to fix my hope on things that are inconsistent, unpredictable and constantly changing.

Perhaps right now, you’re finding yourself in an unexpected place where the sand is shifting beneath your feet, things as you knew them are changing, uncertain, unstable.

Dear friend, know that there is a God who desperately loves you and has so much more for you than you could ever imagine for yourself. He created you to experience a life that is rich, purposeful and fulfilling. And He is faithful to walk you through this.

God desires to give you something better than a neat, nicely coiffed, comfortable life. He offers you something stronger to anchor your life. Something stable. Something unchanging, sustaining and incredibly fulfilling.

In the book of Ephesians, we see a man named Paul, praying for his friends in the town of Ephesus. It’s one of my favorites and it’s my prayer for you as well.

Please read Ephesians 3:14-20 NLT.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Immeasurably more… God is able to do far beyond what we can ask or think.

Every good thing that you’ve experienced so far in your life…God is able to do more.

Every difficult thing you’ve faced, God in his infinite goodness and grace can use it and redeem it for his purpose.

Every dream that you can imagine for your life…God is able to do more.

Everything that is even beyond your ability to control, comprehend, understand or imagine…God is able to do more than that too.

In fact, Paul is struggling in such a great way to describe this concept that theologian Charles Spurgeon said, Paul constructed an expression that is entirely his own—immeasurably more. No language was strong or powerful enough to fully describe what God is able to do in and through our lives.

God is able to do immeasurably more… according to His power that is at work within us. Right now. We don’t have to wait to experience this in a few years when we get our life together and our life goals mapped out.

That includes YOUR life. Regardless of what your circumstances are right now, in spite of how hopeless your circumstances seem, God is able to bring increase, healing, restoration and do more than you could ever imagine.

However, I believe we often miss the most crucial part of tapping into this immeasurably more awesomeness that God has for us.

It’s a partnership, with him!

My prayer for you as you go through these short devotionals, is that you would come to know and grasp the immensity of God’s love for you, for you to be filled with the fullness of God and that God, through His power, would do immeasurably more in your life than you could ever imagine.

And for you to have the courage to let go of the insecurities, fears, weaknesses that are holding you back and replace them with the immeasurably more presence and power of God.

Take a moment…

  • What is your current “new thing” that has unearthed insecurity or inadequacy in your life?
  • Have you experienced frustration that comes from the realization that you’re feeling a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you currently see?
  • For what are you grateful? Take some time to thank God for all He’s done for you and all He’s given you.
  • What are some immeasurably more things you feel God stirring in your heart?

Why My Son is So Mad at Pinocchio

For years, my son was mad at Pinocchio.

(Yes, I’m referring to the fictional wooden puppet characterized in the classic children’s novel and animated Disney movie.)

You couldn’t even utter Pinocchio’s name in our house without eliciting harsh words and opening up tender wounds from Brandon. He was visibly hurt – deeply.

You’re probably wondering, “What heinous act could Pinocchio possibly have committed to produce SIX years of hurt and hostility in the heart of my child?”

During a trip to Disneyland when my son was three, Pinocchio took Brandon’s beloved blankie. No, he didn’t steal it. There was nothing malicious about it. Pinocchio simply admired it, borrowed it to cuddle with for a few seconds and gently returned it.

To Brandon, however, Pinocchio broke the cardinal toddler rule: Never ever EVER touch the blankie of a three-year-old! This was a direct infringement on his personal space and property and Brandon was resolute in his determination NOT to let it go.

It was quite a problem. For years, this is how our conversations would go…

“Brandon, why won’t you forgive Pinocchio?” 

“He took my blankie.” 

“Pinocchio didn’t really take your blankie. He was just showing you how much he loved it.”

“I don’t like him and I don’t forgive him.”

Finally, while on a trip to Disney World many years later, Brandon decided it was about time to end his six-year feud with the wooden puppet and extend forgiveness to Pinocchio. He’d let his anger stew long enough and needed to let it go, move on and enjoy our time at Disney World.

With nervous determination, he entered the park.

Believe it or not, amidst the thousands of people at the Magic Kingdom, amidst all of the characters to meet, Pinocchio was at the park entrance greeting eager Disney goers. After waiting patiently in line, Brandon explained to Pinocchio how upset he had been and how the whole blankie incident had really affected him.

Pinocchio seemed unaware of his offense while Brandon was talking to him, but graciously, he played along. After a few seconds together, Brandon and Pinocchio hugged, amends were made and off we went to enjoy a wonderful day at the park.

Why is forgiveness so hard sometimes? Why do we seem to find more pleasure in holding onto the offense than letting go of it?

A funny thing about our anger is sometimes it doesn’t even hurt the other person. In fact there are times, as in our case with Pinocchio, the person didn’t even know they hurt us!

But we’re the ones who suffer. Stomping around for days (perhaps years), clenching our jaw when a person’s name is mentioned, hosting imaginary conversations in our heads, hoping for the chance to “give them a piece of our mind”, secretly wanting them to fail, as we wait around for an apology that may never even come.

For a while, it may feel good to hold onto the anger, to nurse the grudge. But slowly, unexpectedly, unforgiveness will kill us, rotting us from the inside out like a cancer choking life from our bodies.

Years ago, I remember an incident when a close friend really hurt me. As time passed, I really thought I had forgiven her, but every time her name came up, I felt anger and frustration rise. Every time I talked about the incident to my husband, I would start to tear up. I had a hard time watching her succeed – secretly wanting her to keep all of her pregnancy weight on.

Clearly, I still had work to do on my heart.

The apostle Paul knew the danger unforgiveness had in a person’s heart and in a community. His instruction to the Ephesian church was strong,

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4_31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Paul didn’t talk about anger management or manipulating our behavior; he said, get rid of it – all of it. Just like you get rid of your trash and get rid of the rotting food in your refrigerator, get rid of your bitterness, rage and anger.

I’d like to think that by taking the trash out of my house once, I would never have to do it again. The reality is that I have to continually do the work of removing spoiled food and smelly garbage from my home.

Daily.

Forgiveness requires us to bring our hurt before God, to confront the pain in our heart, to deal with our emotions and to choose to not hold someone’s past over them.

Today.

And again tomorrow.

And again the next day.

As long as it takes until the weight is lifted.

Dear friend, this is the work of forgiveness. It’s not a one and done prayer; it’s a daily work of tending your heart. And when you do this work, you’re able to breathe a little deeper, rest a little better and walk a whole lot lighter.

Forgive so you can be free again. Forgive so you can feel clean again. Forgive so you can have your life back. It’s so worth it.