I remember a time when I felt a little lost in life. I wasn’t quite sure of who I was as a person. I seemed to be chameleon-like, forming into whoever I would be around the most. Sometimes, this was a good thing. There were many people who influenced me in the best way, speaking life over me and encouraging me in my relationship with Christ. I’m sure you can imagine, however, that living like a chameleon also had a negative effect on me. Everything from my outfits, music, language, habits, hobbies and personality changed to be more like my companions. Those who I adored, I strived to be like because I thought that if I adored them, maybe someone could adore me if I were like them. It was a time of identity crisis that really left me unsure about who I was really supposed to be.
I didn’t really understand my relationship with God either. I knew that He loved me, I was saved and I believed the Bible was 100% true – all the major things. For some reason, however, I felt disconnected from Him. I did all of the right things, but somehow I was cultivating a relationship that felt more like a formula than an authentic connection. I didn’t know what I needed, but I knew I was missing something. All I knew was that I didn’t feel good enough for Him to adore me, that’s for sure. I felt unlovable in my authentic state, so I would rely on good acts and achievements to win the approval of God. My heart was in this system of give-to-get, as I believed that God’s love for me would diminish if I waited too long to pray or kept making mistakes. I was living life striving for His approval, but never believed I could reach it.
I remember reading a book called “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge during this time and it instantly changed my view of God. With each page, my eyes were opened to a side of God I had never experienced. In this book, I discovered that God pursues us, protects us and adores us, much like a prince does with a damsel in distress. As a little girl, I always loved the fairytale idea of love, but understood that people aren’t perfect. Growing up with the belief that I would never truly experience that dreamy love, no matter how amazing my husband would be, was something that also blinded me to the love of God. I didn’t expect Him to chase after me despite the countless times I ran from Him. I didn’t realize that, day and night, He was waiting for me to call for Him – that He never slept and was always watching over me with care. After reading this book, I began to understand God’s love for me and I realized that He is what my heart had always been aching for deep down inside. Nothing else could fill that void that I had deep within my heart but Him. When I understood that, I began to cultivate a relationship with Him that was authentic because I finally believed He cared about me, regardless of who I was or was not.
Authentic relationship to me involves honesty – honesty that opens up when it’s especially difficult or scary. It requires dependence on God to come through to be my hero and to comfort me when I feel like crumbling. It involves whispering His name throughout the day, asking Him to just be close to me. I don’t run away from intimacy with Him because I’m not afraid to cling anymore. God wants us to cling, but most of us don’t because we grow up thinking that clinginess is unattractive and that once He sees all of us, He won’t want us. We project our earthly experiences onto God, when the reality is that He is perfect and wants us to come close every moment of the day.
My relationship with God is completely different than it was growing up. Experiencing the sweet, fierce, passionate, jealous love He has for me has changed my perception of who I am. I used to believe that my worth fluctuated based on my good deeds, my failures, my weight, my skills, my likability and my achievements, but now I know that nothing I do could change His love for me. My worth just is – there is nothing that can be added to it because I had worth before I was even created. Understanding this truth has allowed me to take the focus off of who I should be and instead turn my gaze to Him, because He is the holder of my identity. He has become my favorite place to be because in His presence, I am completely undone and still called beloved. There is no place safer than His arms. Because I am His beloved, Heaven is my forever home. The thought of being with Him for eternity calms my soul whenever I feel out of place here on earth. The truth is, our time here is short. Life on earth is temporary, but when we are connected to Christ, our home is with Him in Heaven. He bestows our belonging because we are destined to be with Him always.
I don’t know if you have ever been in the same situation I have, but I know that we all sort of wander through life at times, searching for our identity in places other than His presence. Sweet friend, please know that God wants you to come close to Him just as you are. You don’t have to be anything but yourself in His arms because He not only approves of you, but adores you. Let my story encourage you today with the truth of His perfect, passionate love for you. He’s always chasing after you, even when you run – but will you let Him catch you this time? I promise, you won’t regret it. In His arms, you will find everything you have been longing for. Just allow Him to show you who He is, and in exchange, He will show you who you are and where you belong.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” –Song of Songs 4:7 NIV