I have the joy of hanging out with the senior high kids on Wednesday nights at church. I don’t have much responsibility except once a month or so handing out snacks, which is fun because teenagers love to eat. A bonus is getting to witness God at work in young hearts. Another bonus is having him work in my heart at the same time. You know adults have a lot of the same insecurities that teenagers do and need a lot of the same lessons and reminders. Even though there’s an age difference we’re all walking the path together.
Tonight we were taught that in order to know who we really are, we have to realize, admit and decide who we are NOT. What a great truth and how we all need to know it. [Important side note: During worship the youth band led the song “How He Loves” and as we sang the words about how much God loves us, my throat tightened and my eyes stung a little. In my heart I told God that I don’t really feel that right now but I was singing it trying to believe it. You know, prolonged waiting and trusting and uncertainty have a way of wearing one out.] Anyway, after the message, we had the opportunity to respond by going to tables in the back which were covered in brown paper with giant red “No” symbols painted on them. We were to write words on there – labels people give us or we sometimes believe about ourselves that are not true. Things we are not. I walked back partway through the song and wrote out “lost cause.” Sometimes I feel I have to learn and relearn over and over what I need to, that my mistakes and insecurities and questions might make God get tired and just kind of push me to the side because I’m tiring. That might sound silly – just being honest.
As I read some of the things other people and students wrote my heart hurt – we are all so insecure and the lies of the enemy can be so LOUD. Some of the things kids had written were: weak, slut, stupid, not wanted, spoiled, annoying, dumbass, dead, and more. We are all slogging through labels and accusations from other people, from the enemy, and from ourselves that keep us from freedom, keep us from fully realizing God’s love. As our leader shared with us, we have to get to a point when we decide “That is NOT me. I am NOT defeated. I am NOT stupid. I am NOT unwanted” and let God and His Word define who we are.
On the way home, my daughter told me how God had spoken to her during worship and then again during the message. He helped her see that what she is NOT and that she is His girl. She can be free. She can be at peace. She can be real and be a light with His help. It was a breakthrough I’ve prayed for her for months and as she shared I started to cry. I confessed to her how difficult this year has been for me, too, and how I hadn’t been feeling God’s love. But when I heard what God was doing in her heart I could almost hear Him say, “I told You I am trustworthy. I’m doing all of this because I love her and because I love YOU.” It was overwhelming and beautiful. Thankfully we didn’t drive off the road as we were both sniffling, weepy messes for a little while.
I have much to learn still about how to live in my true identity and not be swayed by labels, lies or my own faulty self-talk, but tonight I was encouraged.
SO I declare tonight that I am NOT: a disappointment to God, defeated, forgotten, or without hope. I am not a lost cause or loved based on how I perform.
As Louie Giglio says, “I am not God, but I know I AM.” I know God! Thanks to Jesus and his incredible love, I live in relationship with God! I’m his daughter. He’s written my name on his Hands. He’s always with me. He knew me before I was even conceived and likes me the way I am. He has Me in mind and is always attentive, guiding and making a way for me. I am worth His attention. I am loved. Take some time and ask God to show you who you are and who you are NOT.
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you…
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you. Isaiah 43:3-4 The Message