I didn’t get to Christ because everything in life was A-OK. Facts are, I didn’t really know anything about how to live and I was desperate. Though I’d tried many things, I didn’t feel much joy or hope or peace. I’d exhausted one version of myself after another after another. I was an intelligent, talented, warm person who, for reasons remaining in obscurity, couldn’t quite pull it together.
I knew there was something inherently wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. My ways of being and ideas hadn’t produced results. I wasn’t capable of real trust. Despite my best attempts to succeed, I lived life in fear fueled by a never-ending supply of scarcity. There was never enough of anything: money, appreciation, respect, understanding, love. All these deficiencies were manifestations of the fact that I was never enough.
At the center of me, I held no spiritual esteem. The difficulties I was experiencing in relationship, health, work, self exploration, and usefulness all hinged upon this fact. Inside I didn’t feel worthy and I was dealing with that fact by trying to change myself. I was relentlessly endeavoring to improve in the hopes of gaining some true esteem and confidence.
Here are some of the things I did: I stopped sleeping around. I sobered up. I quit smoking. I received education. I exercised. I meditated. I did nice things for others. I volunteered. I became a multifaceted healing practitioner. I donated to charity. I finished projects. I honored my agreements. What doing all of that got me was a staggering amount of false pride. Sadly, the accomplishments weren’t enough. In my heart I still felt unworthy.
A week or two after baptism a person in my life challenged me to do some things differently and I was feeling resistant. After all, hadn’t I already completed the aforementioned list? What more was I supposed to do?! I was offended by the notion that my considerable efforts hadn’t been enough. I was pissed off by this person’s suggestions and I was writing in my journal trying to understand why.
As I wrote, the feelings of anger and resentment washing over me, I realized the resistance I was feeling was my false pride. I wanted to hang on to all of the imaginary brownie buttons I’d collected for my accomplishments instead of looking at myself honestly and admitting I still had a long way to go. I became conscious of my own pride getting in my way and then I began to think about Jesus.
Jesus Christ, the son of God, who had power and wisdom and knowledge far beyond the average capabilities, who was without sin, though he lived with the same temptations we all do, who had the ability to radically change situations and events and who most certainly had the power to hammer those assholes at Golgotha, or at least show them something to change their minds; that Jesus Christ, the innocent Lamb of God, allowed himself to be unjustly accused and condemned, flogged, teased, jeered, and crucified (the absolute most horrible way to have your life taken from you) by people who weren’t fit to tie his shoes. Talk about putting down your pride.
I thought about Jesus and what he’d done in comparison to my own willfulness and resistance. I was so frustrated and desperate for things to get better and yet I felt completely hostile toward letting go of my fruitless little artificial ego projects. I wrote, “And I’m holding on for …. WHY? Because I’m more special than Jesus?!” It was a real question at a climactic moment and, to my complete and utter surprise, I received an answer.
“Yes. You are.”
It was God’s voice at the center of my heart. It was the beginning of a contact and conversation I hope will never end. God began to reveal himself to me that evening and, in the way that only God can, He filled me. I’m different now. Praise his holy name.
That night I realized that God loves me (and all of us) so much more than I had ever imagined. He loves us the same or more as he loves Jesus Christ and sees us every bit as brightly, as worthy, as tenderly, and as lovingly. We are worth much in the eyes of God and he wants nothing more than to have a relationship with us. To comprehend this fact has been life changing.
Through the love of God, today I can say I have spiritual esteem. It’s a gift, one of the many, that God has bestowed upon me through the work of Jesus on the cross. Today I know I’m worthy of love regardless of how much money I make, or whether I have a man to love me, or if I’m a few pounds over, or if other people don’t approve of me, or if my house is a little messy, or if I’m not doing any number of things ‘the right way’. I am not perfect. Yet I am still loved beyond measure; eternally, irrevocably, and absolutely.
I love you back, God. You too, Jesus. I love you so much.
John 3:16 – ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’