A love deficit.
The main struggles in my life have revolved around fear and control, and a wee bit of rebellion. And then my kids came along and I realized I also had anger issues.
Made for muddy parenting. Lots of regret and tears. And loads of shame and guilt.
I hate pain, especially the emotional kind with its desolation and despair, so I started a journey to find freedom and peace.
Changing Our Focus
The more I focused on my sin—–though I didn’t generally think of fear or control as sin—–the more bound up I became. I so badly wanted to be a good mom and a person without worry or the driving fear that would overwhelm me.
I’d gain a measure of success, and then cycle back into fear and shame. Crying out to God in the process, studying the Word, faithfully attending church. None of it seemed to help. Or not more than with snail steps, it seemed.
And then there’s the judgment. The judgment we fear from others; the judgment we have against ourselves. So damaging and distancing. We buy into what a religious spirit sells us—–that we have to try harder; the terrible things other people are thinking or saying about us. That we’ll never be good enough. That no one would like us if they really knew what we were like.
And down we spiral. Trying harder and never measuring up. (Here’s a great book that deals with that issue.)
Hating those worst parts of ourselves, instead of treating ourselves with gentleness and love.
The way Jesus does.
A Smiling Jesus
But if our picture of Jesus focuses solely on cleaning ourselves up and removing the sin from our lives, we are going to struggle. We will feel alone and condemned. Isolated. Worthless. A failure.
How many of us can imagine Jesus smiling at us when we are yelling at our children or hiding the booze in our coffee or stealing at work?
Kind of tweaks ya, doesn’t it?
But He does adore us at our ugliest. And if it tweaks us, then we don’t really understand the cross. Or what Jesus did on it.
He paid for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). So, if He is standing next to us while we are doing our worst in Los Angeles, our sin is somewhere over the Indian Ocean.
Not literally, of course. It’s farther away than that. Did you know if you head east you will never hit west? You continue going east. Unlike if you were traveling north, you’d eventually top the North Pole and start moving south. Pretty cool, and shows how serious He is about separating our sin from us.
Peace in God
So if He isn’t upset with our sin since He’s already dealt with it (2 Cor. 5:19), wouldn’t it make more sense for us to pursue relationship with Him—–the peace, the freedom, the joy? Instead of continually fighting against the yuck in our lives and fearing His disapproval over our continual failures?
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I looked up justification in Easton’s dictionary: It is the judicial act of God, by which He pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law.
What we need is not freedom from sin (since our sin has been paid for), but a Love encounter so those chains can be broken (Isaiah 61:1) and those lies exposed and discarded. So we can gain the ability to walk in our freedom, knowing our true identity in Christ.
So how do we have a Love encounter? How do we get into our core being how deeply loved we are?
Training Our Minds
To get there, we have to know where our minds acquire their thoughts. We often feel disgusted over our thinking, assuming we are the originators of those perverse and ugly thoughts.
But do we keep front and center that our thoughts originate from four different places: 1) God, 2) ourselves,
3) satan and 4) others?
If you were the devil and you had the ability to whisper a thought into someone’s mind, do you think it would be most effective to say, “You are so stupid!” or “I am so stupid!”?
Thoughts from the enemy come to us in first person. So we have to learn to evaluate our thoughts and where they originate (2 Cor. 10:5).
There are only two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Light (God’s realm) and the Kingdom of Darkness (satan’s realm).
The thoughts God speaks to us (truth) will only ever be from His kingdom, and satan’s lies will only ever be from the darkness he rules over.
Our own thoughts and the thoughts others place in our minds can be rooted in either kingdom. So we have to train ourselves to distinguish and discard and then replace thoughts that originate from darkness
Have you ever journaled with God? It is a wonderful way to discover how loved you are. Grab a piece a paper, get comfortable and write out one of these questions: God, how much do you love me? God, what were You thinking about when You created me?
Then write down what comes to mind. What He is speaking to you. Don’t stop and evaluate it (which kingdom it’s from) until you’ve captured all of what He is saying.
Then you can move onto asking God what He’s thinking about. It’s a lovely way to deepen your prayer life and your ability to hear Him.
God, I want to walk in the freedom and joy and peace You have for me. Teach me to hear Your voice more clearly. Give me a desire to pursue You intimately. I need a revelation of Your love for me and the plans You have for my life. Thank You! In Jesus’ name, amen!