“We hide what we know or feel ourselves to be (which we assume to be unacceptable and unloveable) behind some kind of appearance which we hope will be more pleasing. We hide behind pretty faces which we put on for the benefit of our public. And in time we may even come to forget that we are hiding, and think that our assumed pretty face is what we really look like.” Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning
My mother had been a single mother since I was five. By sixteen, I was one, too. We needed help.
I remember the smells, and it’s not the ones I smelled as I walked the dumps of Guatemala. It’s the smells I smelled when I was 17 and a mama, and I boarded the city bus, with a toddler held tightly to one side of me while maneuvering clumsily a stroller on the other. I remember being scared, and hoping to go safely get from one place to another.
But what I remember most is how small I felt.
I remember standing in line, sandwiched between two strangers. We were all lined up on the side of that building — in line to get our food stamps. It was the in the cool of the morning, but the air was thick with more smells. Smells of urine and body odor, matted hair and dirty threads. I was scared to be standing there. I wanted to be anywhere but there. I stood there hoping, this time the person at the window was going to treat me like human being and not a deviant. After all, I was on welfare.
But what I remember most is how I felt less than human.
Fast forward 13 years, married and with more children by now. I was at a retreat, sitting in a hotel room, in a circle, with ladies from church. A few were Indian style on the floor, and I was seated on the bed. I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but as I perched on the edge of the bed, clinging a little too tightly to the watch around my wrist, I said it.
“I feel better wearing this watch, as if I am somebody with it on.” It wasn’t one those watches that cost a few hundred dollars, but one of those that cost thousands. It was gift from my husband and with it I felt like, I’d arrived.
That lands on my list of “most embarrassing things” I’ve ever said.
For years before, I’d walk into a store in the mall, weighted by judging eyes, and ignored by sales associates. Perhaps it was my ethnicity. Perhaps it was because I was such a young mom. Or perhaps it was just me. Years later, I was still dealing with the feelings of inferiority. Wearing this watch, I clung to it and assigned it’s value to my own.
As a Christian women, the purse I carried, what wrapped my wrist, what hung on my ears, and the heels that lifted me counted, too. Counted in the equation of adding up to my worth.
I have come a long way from that place. I think nothing of wearing boots from Goodwill, a top from Plato’s Closet and bottoms from off the clearance rack at Target. The designer purses that once draped my shoulders and made me feel a bit more noble, sit on a shelf in boxes as dust collectors. The watch, the one I clung so hard to and found value in, the one that is famous and doesn’t even keep time, sits most of its days on the bathroom counter. Though I am grateful for the heart of the man who gave it to me, I prefer a $10 vintage silver bangle on my wrist. I where it for me, not anyone else.
I cannot base my worth on how little or how much I have. And the words that Paul spoke, lead me in knowing the source of all my sufficiency is in Christ. Like Paul, I have learned, “how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.”
Philippians 4:12-13 AMP
The enemy will use anything he can to take our eyes off of the One who defines our true value. The One in whose image we are made. The devil knows, if we really knew who we were in God, as heirs of God’s Kingdom, there is nothing that will be impossible for us.
“Satan’s greatest psychological weapon is a gut level feeling of inferiority, inadequacy, and low self-worth. This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God’s Word. although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots bound by a terrible feeling of inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness.”Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning
Sometimes we desire to present a perfect image so every one will admire us. The truth is, if we do, no one will ever really know us. And our truest selves can become hidden to even our own-self. God knows the real us, and loves us anyway. No matter what we own, where we live, the size of our house, or bank accounts, the number followers or likes. No matter our outer appearance, our title or our status. No matter our educations, our background, or our occupation. And the “no matter” list is infinite. No matter what, our true identity should be defined as someone who is passionately, fiercely, and radically loved by God. Any other identity serves as a counterfeit.
When we really know who we are and understand that we are accepted by God, then we can walk in confidence, secure in the realization of our significance in God’s eyes.
Write It Out: Will you take your writing place out and be honest answering this question, if you need to be? Have you ever felt inferior or judged by the value of your possessions or your status? Did you assert that value as your own? Have you, possibly, also judged others by the same measure? I have, and for that have repented.
Say it Loud: “Even as, in His love, He chose us (Me: YOUR NAME ) actually picked us (Me: YOUR NAME ) out for Himself, as His own in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we (I: YOUR NAME) should be holy, consecrated and set apart for Him, and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. For He foreordained us (Me: YOUR NAME ) destined us (Me: YOUR NAME), planned in love for us (Me: YOUR NAME ) to be adopted as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will, because it pleased Him and was His kind intent. So, that we (I: YOUR NAME ) might be to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace, favor and mercy, which He so freely bestowed on us (Me: YOUR NAME ) in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
“In Him we (I: YOUR NAME ) also were made, God’s heritage, portion, and we (I: YOUR NAME) obtained an inheritance; for we (I: YOUR NAME ) had been foreordained, chosen and appointed beforehand in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His own will, So that we (I: YOUR NAME ) who first hoped in Christ, who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory!” (Ephesians 1:11-12)
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