Monday, June 30, 2014

That's Not Your Name

For most of my life I struggled with believing the truth about myself.  Unless it was the ugly truth.  I had no problem embracing the lies that told me I was not enough, or that my sin was too great to ever be forgiven.  I held onto the belief that if I did something wrong, THAT is what defined me.  That is who I was.  My sin is who I was.  I was broken.  Messed up.  I could never be fixed.

Beyond that, I've struggled with more shallow things.  Like, not being pretty.  Being overweight.  But the biggest thing I have wrestled with throughout the years has been my ability to be a good mother.  There are voices all around.  Some are encouraging.  But most, however well-intentioned they may be, are downright hurtful.

And it amazes me, the capacity we have to hurt those closest to us.  And to be hurt by those who are supposed to love us unconditionally.  For most of my life, I understood love to be based upon my actions.  For example, if Kris and I were in a good place, not fighting, he must love me.  But the moment conflict enters the picture, I tend to lose all understanding of what unconditional love really is.

I have really been wrestling with words these last few weeks.  It's a constant battle for me, really.  I have a very difficult time, even if I know the truth, not allowing negative words to shape me and affect my heart.  Some days are better than others.  Some days it is easy for me to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

Other days, I seem to forget all that I have learned these last two and a half years.  At least, temporarily.  Words wound.  They can cut deeply.  Sometimes people hurt us intentionally.  Other times, I honestly believe they just don't understand or see how deeply their words affect us.  And perhaps that is why God calls us to remember WHOSE we are - because he knows that there will always be people who will try to tear us down.  And we have to be able to lean on God and believe HIS truth, not the "truth" that another person believes is their right and duty to communicate to us.

Going back to this struggle I have with whether or not I am a good mother...lately I feel attacked.  I feel like no choice I make for my children and how I raise them is right.  And it is not because my heart tells me I am making mistakes.  It is because there are other voices apart from God that are speaking this into my life.   And while I would love to say that it is easy to identify these voices as lies, that's just not true.  Especially when there are those close to me who believe I am doing it wrong.

I feel like I have really had to talk myself back into believing who God says I am.  I have not been defeated by the negative remarks, and deep in my heart, I know that I am doing okay.  Do I do everything just right?  No.  Of course not.  Anyone who has never made any mistakes as a parent is welcome to advise me on how to do it perfectly.  There is no instruction manual for parenting.  And all children are not equal.  Some require different methods of parenting.  And I know that it is easy to look at someone's life and think, "Man, I can't believe they are doing it that way."  I know, because I've done that.  And every time, I hear a voice say, "Jamie, you have NO idea what that person deals with on a regular basis."

I am empathetic by nature.  God has designed me to be, and instead of trying to hide that these days, I embrace it.  If something moves me to tears, so be it.  There is nothing wrong with feeling another person's pain.  It is something that more people should learn to do.  Because if more people were empathetic to another person's pain, then perhaps we wouldn't always be so quick to tear others down.  Maybe then we would start to show grace to those who we think aren't doing it right.  Maybe it would allow us to examine ourselves and see that WE aren't doing it all right.  We all make mistakes.  So who am I to judge the person next to me because they do not parent their kids the same way that I do?

All of this to confess that I am struggling with the lies and to share the message God has given me in the last week.  God knows exactly what I need.  He cares for me and he does not want to see me wrestle without resolution.  I believe God does allow us to wrestle with things, because how else would we really grow and mature?  But I also believe that God longs for us to come through it knowing without a shadow of a doubt what HE says about us.  More than that, I believe he longs for us to take hold of what He says and allow that to be the ONLY voice that guides us.  Sure, we can listen to others' concerns and maybe heed advice if we feel it is in line with God's word.  But ultimately, the only one that matters is God.  And if God is speaking to my heart and telling me that He is for me, and that He sees the value I have and my worth as a mother, then it shouldn't matter one bit what someone else who is not walking in my shoes thinks.

As I have wrestled through this, daily as of late, God has not abandoned me.  He has spoken to my heart in the best way He has for me:  through music.  In the past, songs like "Remind Me Who I Am" and "I Am New" and "Redeemed" have resonated with me and helped me to realign my heart and my mind.  This week though, God blessed my heart and renewed my spirit with a newer song by MercyMe called "Greater."  In addition to having such great lyrics of truth, you can't help but smile when you hear it.

Thank you God for speaking your truth into my heart in my weakest moments and reminding me that I am REDEEMED!

There are days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn't matter
Cause the Cross already won the war.

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