We’ve been talking about strife for two weeks now at church. Last week, I wasn’t able to go, but I listened online. As soon as she went through the checklist, it became so clear to me that I wasn’t in strife with anyone in particular. I was in strife with myself.
You say, “How can that be?” It’s like a tug of war. I know the Bible verses about who I am in Christ. I am chosen, accepted, one of His beloved. I’ve heard that for years and to some degree, believed it. But in the back of my mind were the lies.
The lies that started out as a seed grew because I thought about them. I thought I was unlovable. I thought I wasn’t wanted. I felt unwanted. I so desperately wanted to believe that God loved me right where I was, but I just didn’t see how it could be so. I began to rattle of the list of why nots in my head. You shouldn’t love me, God, because I am broken. My body is scarred. You shouldn’t love me, God, because I don’t even know how to love You. You shouldn’t love me because of all the mistakes I’ve made, all the times I’ve disappointed, You. You shouldn’t love, me, God! How do You love me so deeply and without reservation?
It’s a question I have struggled with for years. But tonight, I had an epiphany. When Mrs. Linda was speaking tonight, she said, “You need to say in the mirror ‘I love you.’”
Years ago, I had gotten past thinking I was ugly. But tonight, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t think I have ever told myself I loved myself. Ever.
Just her words caused tears to fall silently down my face as she spoke. I hoped I could hold it together for the rest of the message.
At one point, I wanted to run. Not run out into the building, but into the bathroom and have a good, long cry. I literally felt like I was breaking inside. As she said, in order to fully surrender to God, I have to love myself. I have to quit listening to the lies the devil tries to play over and over in my head.
Since I have graduated, things are different. Nothing outwardly to focus my time and energy on. This season in my life has been one of brokenness before God as never before. This season has been a time of prayer and wanting more of Him.
Yes, this strife has been an inward battle. A battle in my mind, will, and emotions. The constant push and pull. The strife within myself has made me re-examine things.
I want to rid myself of those belittling thoughts. I want to love myself. I want to see myself as God sees me. He sees me as whole. As His daughter. We are all human flesh. There is nothing I can do to change that. But, I can put on the whole armor of Christ and combat those negative thoughts and feelings. With His grace, I can learn to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I love you, Madison. I love you right now, in the midst of the mess. I love you.” I am no longer going to entertain those thoughts of “What do you have to give?” Why even look in the mirror?”
It’d be so much easier just to duck my head underneath the covers than to deal with my self-image and the things that are holding me back. I am not a quitter, and I will not take the easy detour on the path to full surrender. God, help us all to pursue peace with others, our neighbors, and ourselves. For only then, will be truly rid of strife.
Image Credit © Tug of War Oliver Tam via free image.com