To be in God's presence, sin and all, means you aren't in the presence of lightning bolts but the presence of love. God adores a repentant heart not because he craves control but because nothing bolsters his joy more than when we are free of hurt.
Humans have mastered the art of hauling hateful words at the masses: the person who cut us off in traffic, the stranger who blew up our comment section, the ex-boyfriend we shouldn't have dated, the in-law who is far too nosey, the doctor who was snippy and calloused, the–
You get the point.
Often, the words that fall out of the mouth are a direct reflection of the heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life’s consequences." Our mind, body, and spirit are rooted together so much so that when the mind is infuriated, downcast, or vengeful, the body will reflect those emotions. Thus, we clench our fists, and our faces turn red as we shout unthinkable things through tears of anger or pure sadness.
As Christians, we know this isn't how we should treat others, but what if this is the way we shouldn't treat ourselves too?
If you are like me, believing for ages that God called us to walk an impossibly tight rope, perhaps you dispel anger, frustration, and sadness on yourself. You keep a tally list of your rights and wrongs and simply wait for the day God hurls lightning bolts your way. But in the meantime, you settle for verbally abusing yourself. After all, you deserve some sort of punishment, right? Maybe self-inflicted torment stings harder, boils hotter, and purifies quicker, right?
Wrong. Heartbreakingly wrong.
No matter our motives, our actions, our deepest thoughts, or the darkest secrets we fear to tell anyone, God rescues his people, his beloved, from all mistakes and terrors.
1 John 4:16 says, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
To be in God's presence, sin and all, means you aren't in the presence of lightning bolts but the presence of love. God adores a repentant heart not because he craves control but because nothing bolsters his joy more than when we are free of sin and shame. And often, that shame is self-inflicted. Christ never called us to punish ourselves. That's the very reason he took on the cross, so you and I would never have to say to ourselves:
1. Of Course, I Don’t Look Good in _________
When we relentlessly believe we never look just right in those jeans, that dress, this blazer, etc. we are leaving room for the enemy to continue fueling lies. The one thing Satan wants us to doubt the most is that God calls us his beloved. If we forget we are beloved, we forget the inherent beauty that we wake up with each day.
Yes, take care of your body. Exercise and eat healthy foods, but never allow one negative thought to permeate your soul.
Being vulnerable with you, I am a tiny creature. This seems glamorous, barely weighing 110 pounds, but let me remind you, this also means I have no curves, no butt, no breasts, nothing. As my grandmother says, "[I'm] all breath and britches." Sure, I don't mind being small, but because I'm small, I do mind that you can't quite tell which gender I am from behind. I have no distinct feminine features, no sexual appeal for men. I'm simply a skinny, pale body that could be tossed away with the wind.
I internalized this insecurity for the first several years of my marriage, afraid my husband would meet a curvier woman and leave me behind. But may I let you in on two secrets: 1. My husband never left. 2. Once my mind prioritized seeking ways to be kind to others, I stopped comparing myself to others. And do you know what happened? My husband made the round-about comment that I was happier, more joyful... more fun to be around now. (Even more attractive.)
Joy is beautiful. The beautiful are beloved. The beloved is you.
2. I'll Never Be Her
I mean, you're not wrong. You aren't her. Or the other her. Or the other 3.5 billion hers on the planet because you were hand-fashioned by God to be you. Isn't it strange how often we love to quote Psalm 139:13-14 to back our anti-abortion beliefs, yet we allow such a striking, beautiful truth to fall by the wayside after a baby is born? Once the wears and tears of life creep up disguised as crows' feet and gray hairs, we forget that we are still the very creatures handmade by God.
I'll be honest. You won't walk through life without wishing you had someone else's hair color, skin, curves, etc., but you can put a stop to that thought becoming a broken-record chisel that continues chipping away at your God-given worth.
When I notice this devious comparison game the enemy likes to launch in my mind, I have a subtly different tactic than simply wishing the thought away:
I wish I had her curly hair, Satan curates in my mind.
Yeah, I respond, that would be nice... except if I had her curly hair, I wouldn't have my straight hair that lets me crimp and curl however I please.
I acknowledge that it would be nice to have that other thing, but I reinforce the good thing God gave me.
Give it a try!
3. I Blew It Again
And you'll blow it again tomorrow; such is the nature of living in a fallen body, trapped in a fallen world. Yet, what I love so much about Christ's character is that our imperfections were the very catalyst that brought him to earth. He loves us despite our flaws, and rescuing us from our habitual sins is a purpose and pleasure he volunteered to carry out until the end of time.
This doesn't mean we sin for fun because, hey, God loves forgiving us, but it does mean he strives with a repentant heart that seeks refinement through love.
4. I’m Good at Nothing
Well, if I can be frank, you are good at putting yourself down, and that's something, but this something is detonating your source of life and light.
1 Corinthians 12:31 says, "eagerly desire the greater gifts." And guess what's greater than putting yourself down? Being generous with your time and volunteering at a soup kitchen, clothes closet, or another trustworthy charity. Taking on a music class to join the worship team at church. Leading others to the Truth.
Take a few moments to complete this spiritual gifts test. We are all given good gifts by the Father, so perhaps it's time you stop putting yourself down and discover the supernatural blessings God instilled within you. Talk with your church leaders and accountability partners to see how you can nurture these gifts to better serve God and others.
5. There’s No Point in Trying One More Time
If each person adopted this concept, I'm not sure people would be here today, quite literally. I know if my parents had given up after two years of trying to conceive, I wouldn't be here. If they had given up after another three years of trying to conceive, my little sister wouldn't be here.
Eden was meant for perfect people, but this world isn't designed to offer perfection. Because this is undeniably true, God, through Christ, has paved the way for us to still be successful, accomplished, thrilled, and (righteously) proud even amid our failures.
If you are waiting for the day that you will navigate any area of your life without flaw, you will never accomplish anything that holds merit in light of eternity. So yes, there is always a point in trying one more time to get that book published, make that baby, or launch that Etsy shop.
God called us to thrive despite our faults, not cave to the lie that because of our faults, we can't thrive.
6. I Don’t Deserve Good Things
Technically, we all deserve hell. So if we adopt this idea that we don't deserve good things, we allow Christ's sacrifice to fall by the wayside. It's as if we say, "Mmm, yeah. Jesus, I see what you did there, but I'm pretty sure my sins are still too big for forgiveness. I'm not certain your blood is a match for my tainted ways."
Of course, we don't deserve heaven, but Jesus also doesn't deserve for us to live out this false, disrespectful notion that his sacrifice wasn't enough for us to step into forgiveness, love, and the good things he has in store for us.
Jesus deserves better, friends.
7. No One Will Ever Love Me
When I was in high school, there was one guy who was handsome, musically gifted, smart, a true artist, and genuinely God-fearing, yet, it was so obvious he didn't see his own worth. I heard countless girls say that he was kind and such a great guy, but they wouldn't want to be with someone who talked down to themselves so much.
Of course, you know God loves you. I won't cram that down your throat. But what I will remind you of is that humans crave hope, light, laughter, and joy, and so long as you allow yourself to constantly believe no one will want you, that gloomy cloud of self-hate will be obvious.
Simply respond to the thought with, that's not true. God loves me. I'm proud of who God's making me. And one day, when the time is right, a great person will love me too.
Halting those negative thoughts will allow a healthier headspace that will naturally put an extra pep in your step and add a bit brighter shine to your smile. I promise.
8. I Can’t Move Forward
Likely, the past haunts you, but with the present at hand, where else can you go? Which direction will you take? So long as you have breath in your lungs, you can choose what you do with your life. This doesn't mean life will be flawless, that you won't have roadblocks, hurdles, and tough challenges, but your decision to move forward is how you regain confidence in yourself, in others, and more importantly, in God. Moving forward looks like adopting a positive attitude, seeking ways to implement change in your routine, filtering out harmful relationships, etc.
God wants to shower us with good things, but if we never leave our houses, never put down our phones, never step out of our comfort zones and push life onward, how will we reach those blessings?
9. I Hate Myself
I've said this to myself at least twice this week. Casually, sure. But deep down, your soul takes these words captive, and the moment they flippantly spill out of your mouth, they have the power to root themselves into your heart to grow seeds of self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-destruction.
Perhaps you truly feel as though you hate yourself, that looking in the mirror fills you with disgust. But let me remind you of one simple truth: God's grace is inescapable. No matter why you can't stand to be in a room alone with yourself, God occupies that space. And if his grace is ever-present, so is his love. So long as his love is present, hate is dispelled.
You can attempt to hate yourself as much as you want, you can continue torturing yourself, but the very breath you breathe is filled with God's love. The very room you sit in is saturated with his grace. The very steps you take are guided by his mercy. Thus, for the child of God, hate can't survive, let alone thrive.
10. There’s No Way God is Still with Me
Except, well, there is.
God can't not forgive, he can't not love, he can't not protect, nurture, encourage, heal... stay.
He is so gracious–so in love with you–that his loyalty has chosen to know no end. He quite literally refuses to separate himself from his steadfast nature.
He hasn't gone anywhere because he won't. His nature is too pure.
After all, he loves you too much to do any less.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Jasmin Merdan
Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves helping others find beauty from ashes despite OCD, burned bridges, and perfectionism. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow, even in dry seasons.