Once upon a time, I grew up without a dad.
And it did something to me. The need for affection and love from a man – a father – and the lack thereof, can cause a girl a lot of grief, bad decisions, and even despair.
I was just a girl. Too tall for my age, super skinny – a beanpole (but in my mother’s eyes, a lovely beanpole)… and
a little totally nerdy. I remember wishing that I was petite and blond like my friend, Rhonda. She was so popular because of the way she looked, and I couldn’t help but envy her for it. She was accepted and I was not, and she had no idea what it was like…to be me.
I had no concept of the fact that I did have a heavenly Father, and in His eyes I was a jewel. No, I saw myself through the eyes of others, and when they teased me and called me things like, “Too Tall Jones”, or, “Beanpole”, or “Olive Oil” (Olive Oil was the skinny brunette from the Popeye cartoons, remember?), I crumbled to little pieces inside and any ounce of self confidence ran for the hills.
And there was Jimmy.
Jimmy…my 6th grade crush. All the girls liked him; he had blond hair and blue eyes and his smile made me melt. But one day while my friend and I were hanging out with him, he looked me straight in the eyes and told me that at least my friend would grow up to be beautiful, but that I on the other hand, would surely grow up to be horribly ugly. And that was that.
Right then and there I accepted the lie that my worth – my true identity – was found in what others thought of me…and I ached with self disgust.
As I grew into a teenager, I filled out and blossomed into a much less nerdy version of my younger self. As a result, I began to draw attention from the opposite sex and even though it was the wrong kind of attention, I loved it. Nevertheless, that freckle faced, skinny little girl was still trapped inside of me and no matter how many compliments or nice things someone would say about me, I still saw myself as the the “Beanpole”…with a really dorky perm, and Jimmy standing in front of me stomping out the little bit of self worth that I still possessed. Sad, but true.
There are times in a young girl’s life when having a father is both imperative and priceless. Although I did have some very positive male influences in my life growing up, unfortunately there were also the three isolated times that men in whom I was supposed to be able to trust, abused it, and were it not for the protective grace of God, would have abused me too. This, coupled with my terribly unhealthy view of myself, would lead me into adulthood as a broken woman; a woman with a gaping hole in her heart; a woman who would attempt to fill that hole with everything except for Jesus: food, guys, and material things. And like Solomon, I would miserably moan, “…vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (Ecc. 1:2)
As I sit here typing this, I can still taste the salty tears from having my heart broken when I was younger. The pain, the sadness, and the feeling of rejection became a part of who I was and I felt as though nobody would ever be able to love me the way that I longed to be loved.
Years of emptiness stalked me as I sought refuge in vain things and in vain people, and they did bring me temporary joy…but it was fleeting.
If words were actual tears, mine, right now, would flow like a river of gratitude right off of this page…and fill the spaces around me.
Because I am overflowing. Overflowing with a numinous awareness of the perfect love He has shown me – the healing love; the “I am accepted in the Beloved” love; the kind of love that sets you free from allowing the approval of man to define you.
Here’s the thing: a wounded spirit bleeds and it builds walls – really high walls. And nobody was ever brave enough to climb my walls, except for my Savior. Only Jesus was able to summit my mountainous heap of pain, pride, anger, fear, and ungratefulness.
Then…He tore it all down.
As Jesus took that whip and overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple, so in like manner He violently pulverized my impregnable fortress of fear – and there it was, all of my junk lying in a ruinous heap at the foot of the cross.
My Savior embraced me there. And His blood – it lovingly flowed down that cross onto my heap, and as the scarlet touched the black, the pain became precious. Like an old piece of fabric, used and worn, His silver and gold threads became woven throughout, and the old became new.
The voice of God is mellifluous and soothing.
And now I can hear Him telling me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; He tells me that I am created in His image; He reminds me that before He formed me in the womb, He knew me, and because of all of this…now I can see myself through His eyes. And not my own. And not Jimmy’s, praise God.
Now…I see God everywhere. Do you?
When I run across something with my deceased mother’s handwriting on it, I see her again and the sound of her voice reverberates in the warm and sunny places of my mind. And when I look around – everywhere – there He is – God. I see Him in the tree in the forest next to my cabin – the one that is bent with branches, craggily and crooked…they bow and extend themselves like a gentleman requesting the hand of a lady for a dance. I see the impression of God there, and the familiarity of His handiwork; the love and care and detail of His divinely creative nature.
I also see Him looking out through the eyes of the homeless man, and the rawness of his pain and want…they haunt me. His lack is a mission from Grace that speaks through this human host of destitution standing before me, that I should feed him and clothe him…and love him. Yes, it is Jesus looking at me through those eyes.
The healing that God gives to me – I want to share it with you. I want to present Mercy’s love to you and watch you drink it in and warm your cold places…and then pass it on. This pilgrimage of metanoia should be shared, not hidden, so that you can lean on the strong arm of Love and take in the quietude – to forsake the loud lies that are crushing your spirit.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
My identity, my worth – my everything – is found in You. I am accepted in the Beloved, a daughter to the God of peace (a peace that passes all understanding), and His story is interwoven throughout the pages of my life. Even when I didn’t see Him there, He was always lovingly there, guiding, protecting, and directing my steps. And His blood soaked up my agony and made me clean and whole…and beautiful.
He calls me chosen, daughter of His own –
Sister to the Prince of peace, and heir to heaven’s throne.
He calls me holy, pure from filth and stain –
Washed in Red, rose from the dead, because Christ was slain.
HE calls me victorious, high above my foes –
To laugh at fear, to sit with Christ, to live because He rose.
He calls me peaceful, to rise above all fear –
To wield the shield and take the faith and prayerfully draw near.
He calls me onward, to leave the past behind –
To ride the train of mercy and then redeem the time.
He calls me lovely, the apple of His eye –
His baby girl for evermore, to share in love divine.
And He is calling you…right now. Bow the head, bend the knee, and sink in deeply to the waters of His love. He will wash you and hold you and love you…you are complete in Him. And you are beautiful.