Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
We can be awfully hard on ourselves sometimes. We may not even realize our struggle to accept God's grace.
We can look on back at that girl of our past and feel so sad for her. Or angry. Is that me? Did that really happen? Did I really make that choice?
I've been working on a book this spring, and a lot of this writing is just plain listening--listening for God's whispers as I think about Him, asking Him what it is He wants me to see. I've been telling newsletter friends about it--about what the book is about and how it is going so far. What I haven't shared with them yet, is that listening for God's words in our hearts can be just so hard.
It can be overwhelming to experience, even in little tastes, just how much God loves us. We hear about Him never leaving us, how He walks with us during the most difficult experiences of our lives (Psalm 147:3, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 23). He has been with us in our mess. And He loves us more than we can understand.
Yet, when we see ourselves as more broken than loved, more of a mess-up than a daughter of beauty whom He adores, we can struggle to believe we are going to be okay.
But we need to let Him help us to try.
You know those moments--the ones we wish we never had, the ones we work so hard to forget. God wants to uncover these moments for us. He wants to pull them up from the darkness and bring them into His light. Those are the moments He wants--those most horrible memories that have broken our hearts--to heal.
And when we let Him show us what He sees in those moments, when we give Him the pen and let Him rewrite our past, we experience more of His love for us. We see the miracle--our whole story redeemed.
We think we know the truth of ourselves. But we don't know this truth; we don't know how to view our lives with clear eyes; we don't know how to be with God in the unique way He has made us to experience Him, unless we let go of all the things we think we know about ourselves and let God rewrite our history.
We need to see our past and our present through God's eyes. That is the only way we can experience glimmers of His joy for us and our future. His story of our lives is the one we need to believe, especially when the past we have been believing in for so long is likely not the full truth.
Our views of ourselves are skewed and inaccurate; they are not the full picture of truth--not unless we see where Jesus is in the memories of our lives.
No, you weren't alone when she died.
No, you weren't abandoned when he left.
No, you are not weak and incapable of change.
No, you are not unloved, ugly, unintelligent, unremarkable.
And there are so many untrue things we continue to believe about ourselves and our past and our present that affect how we receive God's love and experience Him right now. So many things that are far from true.
We can't trust ourselves to look at our mistakes and our regrets by ourselves. We need God to translate our lives for us. We need His truth to rewrite the false ways we interpret our views of our selves and our past.
It's not a fun thing to ask God to show us a memory . . . and the person we see, in the memory, is the person we most want to forget. I get it.
We hate the choices we made. We regret those words we said. We wish he didn't do that thing to us. We wish our yesterday was different, that we were better at making decisions and trusting the heart of God.
And then there is the uncomfortable part when we struggle to keep listening for the truth because we resist believing something so good: Can I be so loved, in the pain, in the sadness, in the moments when I feel I just can't go on?
Even though it feels like we just can't do it--asking God to show us the worst memories of our past . . . we have to.
We have to invite God's love into all situations in our lives, including our worst memories.
Our hearts are desperate for God's complete healing. We need Him to come in, repair our broken places, show us what He sees, bring light to memories that were otherwise completely dark.
God's love overwhelms all dark.
So let us keep listening, keep wrestling out words He shows us of our past. Let us see the moments, the pictures, the glimpses of His love in the moments of struggle and pain. Let us search for words to write them down so we will see them . . . and we will see her--whom He sees--too.
For she is beautiful.
God knows it. He wants us to know it, and live like we believe it, too.
Have you asked God into your memories? Have you asked Him to bring His light to illumine the dark? I know this is hard. How can I pray for you?
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This post was originally published at jenniferjcamp.com