Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Confession

I haven't written here in a long time, and when I have, it usually hasn't been about my struggles being single. Mostly because that was a bitterness held in my heart and something few needed to know. But here, now, I have a confession to make...

Marriage has been an idol for me.

The worst part about that? I didn't even realize it fully until Good Friday, 2013. Let me take that back; before Good Friday I knew that it used to be.  God did a lot of restructuring in my heart a few years ago that put me in a better place to receive love. I used to believe that if I didn't do everything perfectly, that nobody would want me around. I didn't even really like myself. In fact, it looked more like hatred. I thought I needed someone to love me and tell me that I was okay. My mind had set up a prison and I was my own prison guard. It was inconceivable that anyone could truly love me...

Thankful that God does break chains, through a series of events, He showed me how much I needed something to change. I was 24 and lived my life with fists clenched tightly. Things wouldn't go well if I wasn't in control, my pride whispered and shouted, so I took the weight of the world on my shoulders. And then everything started to go wrong. I was in graduate school full time. Things at work started to get crazy. There were cancer diagnoses and sickness and death. So much death. All things out of my control. Life started to swirl, and then I spiraled. I cried. I panicked. I cried some more. I was anxious. And then I realized that I couldn't do everything on my own...when I was contemplating taking my life, I knew it was time.

So I packed my pride up and went to counseling. (As a counselor, I acknowledge how awkward it can be to go in and tell somebody your problems.) My counselor wasn't specifically a Christian, I don't believe. He talked about God in a vague way, but His influence in my life couldn't be ignored. I was broken and built up in that small room. We laughed a lot and cried a lot. Sometimes just me and sometimes together. And God used that to break down my Superwoman complex. God used that time to speak truth in love through my counselor. And the work even between visits was amazing.

In those four months, the things I believed about God and others changed. I walked away from counseling with a confidence in myself that was true, because it came from an understanding of who God said I am. And those things are unchanging because of God's unchanging love and grace. I never have to doubt my beauty or that I am wonderfully made anymore. Praise be to God!

But what does all of that have to do with marriage being an idol? Hmm, I digress (my family is good at that)...

Because on Good Friday, 2013, I was praying in church and God said something like this: you see marriage as an idol. You think it will save you. But I already did that.

As tears started streaming down my face, I was confused. I knew that I had made marriage an idol for years, and I'm grateful for married people who were straight with me about the joys and struggles, or I'd probably think it would fix me still.

Those thoughts always came in a very subtle way.

Because even though I believed the good things that God said about me, I also believed something much less apparent to me.

I believed that eventually a man was going to come along to validate my worth. To validate means to prove the accuracy of something.

Think about that.

Who could PROVE the accuracy of what God says to be true?

God is truth and His word is true.

Another lesson I've been learning is how wonderful it is to have my value as a woman being affirmed. To affirm means to uphold as true or to support.

God confirmed the importance of knowing the difference between the two. Do you recognize the difference? It makes all the difference in the world. Your value is God-given. No father, mother, sister, brother, boyfriend, friend, or anyone can GIVE you worth...those people can only help you discover the truth.

It wasn't until I understood this truth that I was able to make healthier choices for myself - letting go of a man I had strong feelings for when he verbalized that he just wasn't that into me...deciding that a person who called themselves my "friend", but possessed no loyalty to me no longer deserved the ability to speak into my life...and learning to stand in what I knew to be true contrary to my circumstances. These aren't just one time decisions, unfortunately, and there is a constant flow of tears, sweat, and need for snuggles when I have to decide again to believe God.

Choosing to say goodbye to people whose actions and words tell me a story contradictory to the words God has sang over me in His goodness is not for the weak. It's for those who are made strong by His strength and put on His strength like a winter coat in five degree weather.

It's the reason Jesus didn't have to give in when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He knew what was true about Him because He was familiar with the source of His identity - The Lord. Jesus had nothing to prove when Satan asked him to save Himself from the temptations set before Him.

And we don't have anything to prove either. Nothing. Ever. We don't have to prove that we are smart enough, beautiful enough, love able, weigh the right amount, or anything. You and I are uniquely made in the image of God - handcrafted with a deep beauty - graven on the palms of God - dearly loved - strong in our weaknesses - here for a purpose . . .

One of the greatest honors that you have on this earth is to reflect the glory of God in the short amount of days that you will be here. If you're anything like me, you will go through a process to truly understand that the people and things in your life that don't scream to the world, "You have many wonderful works left in this world to do. And I can't wait to see how God uses you," or "I am grateful that God has put you in my life because I would not be who I am without you," don't need a place of prominence in your life. If they don't agree with God...

You can love them. Pray for them. Point them to Jesus. But you can't look to them for your value. And don't believe the way (through words or deeds) they attempt to devalue who you are.

The beginning of the lesson came at the beginning of the year, but God used the last half of the year to teach me understanding. I can walk in love, victory, and peace because I know the character of God, which was, and is, and will always be. If I got a husband tomorrow, it wouldn't make me any more valuable than I am right now. My worth would not be more priceless, nor my life more precious.

God is good at removing idols from our lives and hearts, but when He gives us the chance to destroy it before He grabs onto it, it's wise to take it.

Your idol might not be marriage or the man on a white horse in shining armor coming to rescue you, but whatever is there can (and should) be put in its proper place by a right picture of who God is and what He says about you.

No person or circumstances can steal your identity in Him.