I’ve been thinking lately about the way I tend to categorize things. Putting things in its proper place is a good thing. It’s what helps to keep our pantries at home nice and neat, our work spreadsheets clean and together, and our Pinterest boards streamlined and cool. You get my drift. Labeling things whether literally or figuratively can help to keep the clutter away. But where it gets tricky is when I want to put myself into a category. If I’m not careful, I start labeling myself with words that box me into a space I was never meant to live in. I’ve had some life experiences in my 30+ years. I’ve experienced wonderful things like motherhood, traveling to foreign countries, and amazing moments in the presence of God. Like anyone else I’ve also experienced hardships as well. I’m talking about the very things that seemed to nearly take me out like divorce, depression, panic attacks, to name a few.
For whatever reason, in those dark moments I found myself taking out my label maker so I can stamp and shelf myself into some category. I know I can’t be the only one who does this labeling. Seems like when something negative happens in someone’s life there can be the tendency for the person and others around them to place that permanent scarlet letter on their chest or that big “L” stamped on their forehead.
God must have known we’d have this tendency. He must have known that there would be times when we literally begin to forget who we are. Yet God’s word shows us time and time again that when He looks at you and me, He sees the blood of Jesus that has covered us. He sees His creation, and He sees His sacrifice. He sees the ones whom He “so loved”. Friend, take that sign off of your forehead, rip that scarlet letter off of your chest, and put that label maker away. Pick up His word…the mirror, take a look at it, and slowly you will begin to see that God has a place and label on you too, a banner if you will. That banner over you is love.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
~Song of Solomon 2:4 KJV
Photo Credit: Dreamstime
Has your heart ever been pursued for in such way that even if you weren’t interested you couldn’t help but take notice because of the determination to seek after your attention and affection? I was sharing with a friend over coffee (of course!) that there is something so endearing about the “thrill of the chase” for both the guy and the girl involved. For the guy, it’s the thrill of seeking after something that has caught his attention and the goal of obtaining the prize that he deems as priceless. The warrior inside of him chases, pursues, and sets out to conquer any obstacles that stand between him and the prize of her heart. For us ladies, the realization that someone has recognized the worth of who we are is beyond endearing. To see a man fight for what he wants and put the work into getting our attention AND our devotion supports the notion that he values the treasure in who we are. While I’m a hopeless romantic and love the details of a true love story, I’m even more enthralled by a love that has not only captured my attention but my heart, for life. When I see how God has pursued me in every season and so lovingly wooed my heart, it leaves me speechless. I can look back over every season of my life from the time I was a child and trace His grace and love in every detail. His pursuit was gentle, not over-bearing, but tender and consistent. It is in the heart of women to be loved for who we are, not just what we look like or what we have to offer. There is a God who loves us so unconditionally, captivated by the beauty He sees in us and sings over us! His love is so extravagant! Who can truly comprehend the fullness of His love? I know that I can’t.
One day, as I was driving in my car, I thought about how His love has always provided for me, protected me and covered me! The more I realize the depths of His love for me the less tolerance I have for any counterfeit. I make no apologies for a life devoted to Him. I know where He has brought me from. I’m a country girl from very simple means. According to statistics my life should have had a different outcome. People and society will try and predict what a life is capable of accomplishing, but because I had a mom who taught me about the love of Christ I took what I learned, believed it, and watched God shower my life with His love and take me to places beyond what my dreams could ever show me! His love has the ability to take what man sees as ordinary and make it extraordinary. His love has the ability to take those caught up in deception, sexual immorality, deceit, lies and all manner of evil, and turn their lives into a masterpiece of His love, a portrait of grace. His love is so pure. He’s not seeking to take advantage of you; He longs to simply reveal to you what true love looks like.
What are you dealing with today? Perhaps it’s a sin of your past that you’ve never forgiven yourself for. Maybe a sin was committed towards you that has left you feeling unworthy, dirty, and unloved. Or maybe you have never seen yourself as an overcomer, never come to the understanding of how valuable your life is. Please allow me to speak life over you right now and declare HIS LOVE IS ABLE TO CLEANSE YOU AND MAKE YOU WHOLE, TRANSFORM YOU AND MAKE YOU NEW! Don’t look at your messed up situations, or your limitation, but rather open your heart and accept His extravagant love and watch Him transform your life. God is pursuing your heart. He is so interested in you and will not give up on you. End the chase today and surrender your heart to His extravagant love!
Focusing on Christ has been a challenge for me recently. I have put a lot of my energy into pleasing my husband. I would put the blame on myself if he is having a bad day at work or if he were stressed I would think it is something I did. For some reason I put my focus on everything my husband thought, and if he wasn’t happy it had to be something I did. It was so silly because most of the time he didn’t even know I was thinking this way and he would just be stressed out about work and not me. I don’t know why I cared more about what my husband thought of me than what my Heavenly Father thought about me. I feel I was trying to live to gain acceptance from my husband and not living for God.
Have you ever been in this situation where you worry about other’s opinions more importantly than whom God thinks you are? I found myself so consumed with pleasing my husband and acting a certain way that I lived in bondage and enslaved to some identity I wasn’t. Finding my true identity comes from Christ alone. When we find that identity we can be transformed by the way we think and act and not by the world. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) I realized through prayer that I was already accepted by God and didn’t need the acceptance of others. GOD sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and to show me that I am already qualified by my relationship with Him. He doesn’t need to accept me because it has already been done on the cross. How powerful is that? Therefore, Christ set us free to live a life without bondage. “Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Finding real freedom gives you favor with God and not man. Man looks on the outside but God looks on the inside. As he spoke to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) I have found what my heart longs for and it is to be in constant communion with Christ and my relationship with Him is the most important part of my life, not my kids or my husband. Thank you God for accepting me for who I am and showing me that my true identity comes from you!
Spring is in the air and we all know what that means. Time to put away your winter clothes, air out your spring attire, and clean house. Just about every spring I go through my closet and look for any items of clothing that I have not worn in the last year and I give them away. It’s just my little yearly ritual that forces me to evaluate what has been useful to me, and what has not. This year as I am preparing to go through my closet and garage, I want to do not only a sweep of my physical possessions, but in other areas as well. When it comes to certain people that I deal with or do business with, let’s say like my lawn guy, I tend to be what I like to call “lazy loyal”. Is he the best at what he does? No he is not. Am I one hundred percent satisfied with his work? Not by a long shot. Are there dozens of other landscaping companies that I could use? The number is endless. But, what do I do? I stick with him loyally and faithfully because I am too lazy or unwilling to do the work required to get better service. So now I begin to wonder if this is something I do in other areas of my life? Are there friendships, associates, and other connections that I maintain simply out of convenience? These are truths that I think each person should ask of himself or herself on a regular basis…perhaps even more than once a year.
We could have quality and meaningful relationships whether friendship, romantic, or business, but we stick with those who have been around for a while, not because we need them, but because we don’t have the courage to start again. We stay on the job not because we absolutely love it and feel fulfilled by it, but because it’s too much work and quite frankly kind of scary, to launch out or follow our dreams. We could boast about being loyal to people, organizations, or ideas but the truth is that our loyalty can sometimes be rooted in laziness. This year as you clean out your home or external temple, take time to evaluate your internal one as well and make sure that everything and everyone is operating at the highest level of functionality and purpose. If not, it’s time to ditch the lazy loyal mentality, clean house and make some real changes.