Two weeks ago I had a really bad week. And I mean really bad. It was one of those weeks that no matter where I turned, sin was there waiting. And I hate to say it, but I was weak. I am hard on myself, and I really didn't want to post on this. I don't like people to know that I mess up. I like to be good--as close to perfect as I can get actually. But God spoke some deep words to me in the midst of my failure that I hope will encourage you too. Like I said, it had been a rough week. I was failing, and I knew it. The rotten part is, I deliberately chose to ignore God in this time because I didn't want to talk to him about it. (There you have it, the ugly side of my humanness.) And all week long I did nothing except talk down on myself at how awful I was and pointing out how I kept messing up. I was such a failure; what would people think if they could see me like this.
Finally, it was Tuesday afternoon and I had accountability with my best friend that night. I knew that when I went, I was going to have to confess every single one of those things with her, and it was going to hurt bad. I knew that if I didn't ask for God's help, then I would lie about it to her, which would set me up for failure in the future with our accountability. Then I would be able to justify my dishonesty with future mess-ups that I didn't want to share with her. That afternoon, I was really productive with my homework, which was unusual. I ended up with a ton of extra time. With all these thoughts in my head, I sat down to have my quiet time. That week I had been reading my Bible, but it was a little empty because I was doing it without talking to God. I knew I needed to get things straightened out with him before I read another word. So instead of doing my Bible reading first like usual, I pulled out my prayer journal.
I started thinking of all these eloquent ways that I could say I was sorry to God. But when the pen touched the page, the only thing that came out was, "I'm sorry." There could be no eloquence in that. I screwed up, and no fancy talk could make that right. It was a simple, stark, and humbling phrase, but it had all the meaning in the world.
I thought back to when I was a kid and my parents would make me apologize to one of my siblings. They wouldn't let it go at, "I'm sorry." The inevitable question of "I'm sorry for what?" would come, and we would have to be specific about the fault. I hated to do it, but I knew that I needed to do that with God so that I could come clean in every single wrong choice that I made. It was a painful and long process. It left me exhausted and hurting. I had a feeling of powerlessness at the end. Not powerlessness because God is bigger than me, but powerlessness because the sin was bigger than me. I felt stuck. I had continually messed up, and even though I was apologizing for it, I felt like I couldn't get out of it. That's when I realized that I was right. I couldn't get out of it--not on my own strength. But with God's strength I could. I needed him to. I felt helpless and overwhelmed by the power of sin in my life, but I felt strength and control seep in when I reached out to God.
After that, I thought about how relationships are not one-way conversations. They are two-way, and in order for them to be successful, both must participate. I realized that I had been doing all the talking, so I told God that I needed his battle plan. I needed him to tell me what I needed to do to turn from this life I was living. I closed my eyes and listened.
Be still and know that I am God. Rest in green pastures. Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find.
Those four phrases came racing to answer my question, and I told God to hold on while I wrote down what he said so I wouldn't forget. You can't imagine how utterly perfect that answer was. He told me that my first step was to stop fluttering around and just stand still and realize who he is. In that I would see his strength and power and ability to do what I was asking. He told me that I needed to just rest. Stop trying and just rest in the place that God has provided for me. Even the question I had asked him was "what do I need to do?" He reminded me that I needed to stop doing. He told me to ask for help when I needed it, and he would give it to me. That was something I hadn't done during my week. Quite the opposite--I had completely ignored him. Finally he told me to look for what I needed and it would be there for me to find. When those hard moments would come, I just had to look, and the wisdom that would help me remove myself from the situation would be there for me to take.
I asked God if there was anything else he wanted to tell me since I had requested that he hold on while I write. You know what he said?
I love you; you're beautiful.
That's when the tears began flowing as I sat in utter disbelief. I had been spending all week telling myself how terrible I was. I was a failure. The ugliest part of me had shown its disgusting head, and I knew it. Yet, this was God's message to me? How could it be? I picked up my pen and cried out, "How can you, God, after all this? When I desire other things of this world and don't think twice about spending time with you?" He said,
I am so in love with you.
The last ounce of resistance, the last ugly lie the devil had told me about myself was gone. In its place was a beautiful child of God. One who couldn't be more loved, more cherished, or more cared for. God was fighting for me and rescuing me because his love for me was too great to be ignored.
I hope God's message to me encourages you, because it is your message too. He loves you. He is fighting for you. When all that you see is the bad, and you are tempted to pile critiques on your head, please remember his message to you. "I am so in love with you."