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January 28, 2018, 12:00 AM

A Matter of the Heart: Am I Enough?


 

There is a question that haunts mankind and drives both life's successes and failures: Am I enough? Our response to this question varies from personality type to personality type and from life circumstance to circumstance. We care about being accepted, either by those around us or maybe even God Himself. It's not only the insecure introvert in the corner who spends mental energy on this question as you might expect. The bold and confident extrovert faces the same question. It may be subconscious, but the fact that we score ourselves on a sliding scale is evidence in itself. We score ourselves in comparison to each other because we care where we stand. We may not expect to be the best, but we are great at finding the person who is worse than us to make our egos feel better. Even on mental autopilot, we're frequently critiquing the worth of ourselves and those around us. We either beat ourselves up, which is focusing on our lack of value. Or we over-exalt ourselves in comparison to others. . . because we want to be valuable so much. Why else keep score? The score seems to matter to humans. It seems to be deeply rooted in our cells, whether we say it out loud or not. Most of this is related to the sin of pride. It's not all bad to have the desire for acceptance and relationship, but deep down we are concerned about that acceptance because we know we're not enough to be accepted unconditionally. If you're faint of heart, don't read on.... No, you're not enough. But none of us are. 

 

Coming from an insecure person, this battle is more visible in me than other personality types. It's a weekly - if not daily - war inside. When I enter into these battles of self-worth, I complain that I didn't do a good enough job at something or I fret that people don't feel about me like they did last year, etc. The same conversation always follows these insecure moments; my husband argues that my perception is not realistic. He reminds me of the evidence to refute my insecurity: "[So-and-so] told you that you do a great job at this," or "[So-and-so] has said this affirming thing about your personality or how much they care about you." My response, which I stand by still, is that people change their minds. A compliment or encouragement from 8 months ago does not mean people still feel the same way about you today. A compliment is not an everlasting compliment! It was a compliment for that moment in time. I do believe people can change their minds, which makes a high-standing name with people very easily lost. Works-based, if you will.... What I find relieving is that God is not like us. His nature doesn't change. It isn't conditional or constantly re-adjusting "the score."

 

If you read through Genesis, you will find a lot of unsavory truths about even the heroes of the faith, like Abraham. There are several beautiful and anointed encounters between Abraham and God. Abraham will be looking good in one moment, lifted in honor by God Himself and also the people around him. It seems like in the very next chapter after a peak of good character, I'm growling in frustration and grabbing my hair in my fists watching Abraham's foolish life mistakes unfold. I watch these moments go by thinking to myself, God, did he really deserve this kind of honor or devotion? By Cheryl's standards, there were a few moments Abraham and Sarah didn't deserve patience. They even repeated and passed on to their son Isaac big mistakes! But while I'm cringing at Abraham's mistakes like I would my own, God's response to Abraham's behavior is very slow and patient. Not only was God not hasty to discipline Abraham, God even keeps reassuring Abraham of the promised blessing over Abraham's life and of the descendants to come. Abraham didn't deserve that kind of grace. God was very patient. Apparently He always has been.

 

In James chapter one [HCSB], God is referred to as {the Father of heavenly lights}, the Creator of all luminary bodies: sun, moon, and stars. The analogy continues in verse 17, "With Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning." The NIV says He "does not change like shifting shadows." Why do shadows move? Because the source of light or the object in relation to the light has moved. As the sun and planets rotate and orbit in space, changing positions in relation to each other, the light is cast at different angles, causing the shadows to change shape and direction. The light source or the planet moves. It's the same with someone holding a candle who turns away, causing the shadows to move and change as the light moves away. This verse makes the analogy to say God is a light that doesn't move. As for Him, He won't cast a shadow by turning away from us or by orbitting through His flucuating moods toward us. His position with us is unmoving. Positionally-fixed. Why is He fixed in regards to us?  Verse 18 reads, "By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures." Our relationship with Him is what it is because it was His own choice out of love. A decision. God knew before He even made the first promise to Abraham all the things Abraham and his descendants would fail to do. God chose anyway. It was a concrete one-sided decision made based on His loyalty to us. Takes a load off, doesn't it? No matter what we may do to embarrass or shame ourselves, God's position with us hasn't moved. 

 

Not only are we accepted in our broken condition by God, but He still elevates us to the value of being His "firstfruits." The firstfruits of someone's work or creation is someone's best. The cream of the crop! As was the ritual tithing in the Old Testament, when someone offers their firstfruits, it means they offered their most valuable, whether sheep or produce from the field. That's the kind of favor God looks on us with. He looks at His creation - angels included - and sees broken mankind as His most prized possessions.  Our spiritual transformation into His most valuable treasures comes because He chose to make us invaluable. If you're worried about your value or your worth, be comforted that your contrite soul is of invaluable worth to God. He chose you, and it wasn't based on anything spectacular you did. His faithful unshakable love is the reason He makes the choice. Can you fathom such love? It seems unfair and even irresponsible to freely give such broken people this kind of faithfulness, but His love is that extreme. It's reckless, relentless, and beautiful.

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