Yesterday was hard. It seemed everything I put my hands to failed. My youngest cut his finger on a candle in broken glass. I lost my temper and I let down family and friends. As I hung “world’s worst mom” around my neck at the end of the day, I let the label sink in and become shame. A shame to refuse any love or care from others, especially a God that somehow puts up with my constant failures.
I reasoned away any encouragement from others or in scripture. I assumed God must think I am not good enough to have stability in my body or my finances. Somehow, I began to convince myself of a distaste God has for me. I am so broken, why would He want to help me in this world? What use am I to Him?
This morning I was reading a devotional on YouVersion, and the author asked if I believed God likes me. Immediately, my broken heart replied a stern and bitter “No.”
There is a lie I’ve told myself, or perhaps accepted from the lips of Satan.
God does not like me.
“Freedom in Christ,” written by Charles F. Stanley, is available on YouVersion, where I found myself this morning. I decided to seek out freedom as a major goal for the year. It’s the first new year’s resolution I’ve had in a while, and the only time I’ve ever had a “word of the year.” After a few months of resistance, I finally sought out this word. Many niches were listed (freedom from…), but a few stood out as a pure conversation about freedom as discovered in God’s Word.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
So this morning, I found myself deeply saddened by my unbelief. I felt so unpleasing, deep in my soul, to say a resounding “no” when asked if God likes me. Desperate for evidence against my own thoughts, I prayed for His truth to be revealed. I’m grateful for writing as a form of communication so I can share this without showing you the tears I am still fighting back.
Whilst in the shower, sloughing off the mistakes of yesterday, God places a gentle image of a carpenter in my mind. Not in the clarity you are probably imagining. Instead, this was in the style of childhood imagination. I could easily pretend myself there while still being fully present. This carpenter was using old and broken pieces of wood to create artworks useful for a plethora of items. From chairs and tables to shelving, hangings, and picture frames, this carpenter had a unique use for every piece of wood they found.
I thought to myself, I am too weathered and broken. There is no use for me. Yet, the carpenter chose me as well. To make something from his hands. and he said “Do not doubt my skill. I am not an apprentice or a habitual tinkerer, I am a master carpenter.” And so he did not waste any wood, but reused every piece he found. He cut away brokenness, and sanded down a poor stain or weathered appearances. Each one was beautiful, created by the master carpenter, and brought him praise.
Then, God lead my mind to my own children. How would I respond if I heard my child say “No, my mom does not like me.”
My heart dropped. Tears growing stronger even thinking about it now.
I would pick them up, hold them tightly, and tell them all the things I like about them until they grasped an image of how much joy and happiness they bring to my life. As a parent, I know children do not understand this depth of love until they have had children. The suffering is extensive, but it is not heavy. If I am reminded of how precious they are to me, and how they struggle with the same things I struggle with, I am deeply moved to love them even more.
I do not love my children without liking them. Even in the stressful moments of temper tantrums and stubbornness, I still like them. Their very selves, deep to the core of their beings. I still like the way they try to tickle me and make me smile. The gentleness they have with babies and the kindness they can show to each other once they have been reminded. I can, and choose to, see through the emotions and outbursts to see the potential they have.
In Romans 8:1, scripture tells us how God looks past our sin. I have known of the blood of Christ for most of my life, yet I must convince myself of God’s desire for me. He knows the sin more deeply than anybody else, and yet He also made a way to see through it. To remove the stains and lead me to kindness. He does not show us our sins for the sake of His condemnation, but for our growth. If our sins are revealed and challenged, it is only for our benefit.
I am in this season to grow and learn. God is trying to draw me closer and tell me what He likes about me, but I busy myself with the need to prove. There is nothing to prove, not to Him or anybody else. I must show my kids how to sit in His presence and seek His will over my own plans. I have fallen short in every area, but God still chooses to take this broken and weathered piece of creation and sand off the bitterness to reveal His intentions for me.
In children’s church, I have been teaching young children something I desperately need to learn. Isn’t that how it always goes.
I am kind to myself because God created me.
I am kind to others because God created them. And God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us slough off the fear and hatred with His truth. His truth sets us free indeed.