Before you begin to read this post, please go here to read my new year's post from 2020.
So now you know what I was focusing on in 2020. I prayed that God would reveal through the eyes of my heart who I was. I prayed to know my eternal identity, not my earthly identity that can change from circumstance to circumstance, season to season, relationship to relationship. I prayed all year for acuity in self-perception, clarity in knowing myself (the good and the bad), and vision to embrace and love my own heart. It would be great if I could tell you that God answered the prayer early on in the year. But that is far from the truth. The prayer was answered in the last two weeks.
On day one of the new year, I need you to know the truth and this will be the most important blog you read all year.
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I share with all of you that my most difficult battle with satan is the lie he feeds me that I am never enough.
Never enough as a mother
Never enough as a daughter
Never enough as a friend
Never enough in love
Never enough as a Christian
Never enough as a writer
The list goes on.
That lie I fight daily, hourly, is a thorn in my heart. I study the word. I teach others by writing what I learn and speaking to groups about what I write. I pray and surround myself with friends who point me to the truth of God. But yet, I wrestle. And in complete transparency, 2020 was the year I was crippled by it and truthfully believed at one point, the lie was right.
2020 has universally been a year like no other. For all of us. Yes, I had my share of covid calamities. I was furloughed for 4 months, I had two daughters miss their senior graduations, one from college and one from high school while simultaneously having their softball careers abruptly ended. And while I am not chalking up the loss of what I truly believed was a serious romantic relationship to covid, the relationship did prove to have a virus of its own which put the progression of it on permanent lockdown.
The ending of that relationship late in the summer is where the beginning of the end started for me and as such, learned to truly behold the depth of God's love for me. The revelation of what I will now claim as my word for 2021 (drum roll please) was one of the most beautiful journeys I have taken with Jesus.
During the final conversation with the man who had conned me and my daughters into believing he wanted to marry me (he even had the audacity to be so narcissistically insensitive to ask each of them their permission to propose, a most selfish act that he robbed from all of us - may God forgive him for being so deceitful and disingenuous) he had said he had written me a letter. Since we hadn't spoken all week, I was a bit surprised. I went to the mailbox to retrieve the letter and in it, I read a list of all the reasons and ways I had brought him joy (a question I had been asking him for weeks as it was apparent, he had become unjoyful in our relationship). Although he had written a very lovely list, he then stated "while I did appreciate all those qualities I wrote in my letter, you're just not enough for me."
Gut punch. Can't breathe. Mind reeling. Heart shattered. Ego completely humiliated. World spinning.
I mean up until that devastating moment, I had only assumed that every failed relationship was because I certainly wasn't adequate enough for the guy who decided to leave. I wasn't loveable enough. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Faith-filled enough. Patient enough. Successful enough. But in that earthquake inducing moment - it was actually said. The lie wasn't a lie, it was true after all.
For weeks I could not grasp what happened. How could I have been so conned? Why did I not read every early sign that had a red flag attached to it? Why did I think it was ok for someone to be so damaging to my self-esteem? Why was I working so desperately for his approval of me when clearly his standard was perfection and he made it clear over and over again that I could do nothing right? How did I allow an extremely emotionally unavailable man to steal from my daughters a sweet moment that now has a tainted memory to it? Why did I have to go through this again?
Like my spiral into depression in late 2012, I felt myself being pulled into a dark state that I knew would only lead to isolation. Battling suicidal thoughts, I told my daughters what I was fighting and they lovingly urged me to seek help. I did. And here is where I would behold the answered prayer of 2020.
Through counseling with a Godly therapist and pastor, I have learned more in the past 4 months, than in all the previous ten years combined (I gave my life to Christ in April 2011)
John taught me that I wasn't the only one who felt "not enough". There was another who experienced the same feelings and lies. Jesus battled it too. He wasn't enough either. He was betrayed, ridiculed, abandoned, denied, unbelieved, doubted, persecuted, and murdered. He was right there in front of all these witnesses and they didn't believe He was enough to be the Messiah.
In my last session with John the week before Christmas, he shared with me the verse from Matthew 3:17 from Jesus' baptism:
"and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
Before Jesus had done anything significant; before anyone was healed or any demons were cast out; before He had preached any sermons or told any parables; before He had answered anyone’s question with another question; before He had called out the Pharisees or cleared out the temple, or laid down His life on the cross and defeated death—before He had done any of these things, the Father delights in the Son: “With you, I am well pleased.” On His first day in ministry, God from heaven declares his delight in Jesus. Jesus has done nothing yet, but still, God approves Him and finds great joy in Him, and claims Jesus to be His beloved Son.
As so is the same for me. And so is the same for you (if you've been born again).
Studying this verse in the past two weeks has led me to another foundational life-changing truth. In my time researching, I saw a quote from Octavious Winslow that said: "Behold your present standing, believer in Christ! Turn your eye away from all your failures, your disobedience, the flaws and imperfections that mark your sincere endeavors to serve Christ and to glorify God and see where your true acceptance is found, even in the Beloved of the Father, "The Lord our Righteousness (Jer 23:6b)." "Accepted in the Beloved," is the record that will raise you above all the fears and despondencies arising from your shortcomings and failures and fill you with peace, and joy, and assurance."
Wait what? "Accepted in the Beloved is the record? Where does it say that in the bible?
"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Ephesians 1:6
Yes, I said I was born again in 2011 - and I am just NOW grasping this. Stay with me here because this is where I put the knife in the lie of satan and kill "I am not enough" once and for all.
What this verse is saying is the absolute second we repent and believe in Christ, God makes us completely, fully ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED, His beloved Son with Whom He is well pleased. And because we are in Him, God is also well pleased with us!
Webster says that to accept means to receive willingly, to regard with approval, to value, to esteem, to take pleasure in, or to receive with favor. And so in Ephesians 1:6, Paul is saying in essence that the Father has accepted us willingly, with approval, with value, with esteem, with delight, not because we have in any way merited His approval, but because His Beloved paid the price in full for our approval.
This glorious truth became our present reality the moment we were "justified or declared righteous as a gift by God's grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus," His Beloved Son. At that moment we were transferred from our former position in Adam to our new, eternal position in Christ, the Beloved, in whom we are unconditionally accepted by the Father. While we could never stand accepted before God outside of Christ, the moment we stand clothed in Jesus' righteousness, we can never be "unaccepted" by our Father! Dear child of God, believe and behold how great a love the Father has bestowed on you, so that now in the Beloved you are so near and dear to His heart that He also calls you His Beloved!
When you or I question our value, worth, sufficiency, or believe any untruth about who we are, we demean and ridicule the sacrifice of Christ as if to say what he did wasn't enough! In my "not enoughness" I have been telling Jesus the same thing - that his death wasn't sufficient. Shame on me!
In my verse from last year, Ephesians 1:18 the word know speaks of an intimate experiential knowing - a knowing that is deeply realized though not fully comprehended. We don't have to understand air to breathe it or understand light to see it. Just because we can't see or explain God's love for us, or even feel it sometimes, we can still "know" it's there. Jesus knew and he showed us by his example.
Whether we know it or not, we are constantly trying to figure out whether our life really matters. We often answer it by looking at three things: what we do, what we have, and what people think of us.
If I get a lot done, then I am significant.
If I have lots of stuff, then I’m safe and secure.
If people really like me, then they’ll keep me around.
But each of these ways of finding our identity leads us deeper into anxiety. If who we are is based on what we do, what we have, or what people think of us, then we are constantly producing, possessing, and pleasing.
But Jesus shows us a different way. He never confused His identity with His actions. He never compared Himself to others, trying to prove Himself or find approval. He acted from His identity, not to gain His identity. He knew whose He was.
In beginning 2021, I see with the eyes of my heart more clearly than ever my standing before God. My word for this new year is BELOVED (which happens to be the meaning of Ami). Not something I need to seek, but the profound, beautiful, blessed truth of who I already am. And for the first time in 54 years, I am allowing myself to be loved by myself.
And so should you.
NOTE: Ephesians 1:3–14 praises God for the blessings He has provided. Paul ties together the ideas of predestination, God's glory, the salvation of His people, and the rights we have as children of God. In particular, believers are blessed because God chose, before creation, to save us. That salvation came at a great cost: the death of Jesus Christ. As children of God, we can be confident that God will give us what He has promised: namely, an eternity with Him in heaven. I will be focusing on all these teachings in January.