Last month, I was introduced to a book titled, “Do You Know Who I Am?” by Angela Thomas. I have only read a few chapters of this book but I love the honesty of the author. Her insights are remarkable and she is not afraid to be authentic and vulnerable in order to offer readers points of identification with her message. What I like best is her willingness to admit she is at times insecure, confused and just plain imperfect. She does not apologize for being human. Frankly, I love that.
By sharing personal stories and events in the first couple of chapters, Ms. Thomas invites us to see some of the ways and places in our lives where we feel invisible or underappreciated. She calls readers to recognize that God always appreciates us, always loves us, and always sees our worth and our beauty. Did I mention the word “always”? This is a hard concept to grasp, let alone live, in a world where we are called to constantly meet others’ expectations and believe that approval and appreciation are based on what we can or can’t do as well as what others think.
Personally I have struggled here because in the human sense of the word, love is hard to give or accept unconditionally. This is particularly true when it comes to appreciating and loving myself. I believe I am not the only one who has often focused on my defects of character instead of my assets (making me feel unlovable unless I can get it and keep it all together). Not wanting to sound like a self-absorbed little unit, I must say I really do not dwell on this much anymore. I find the process of aging helps tremendously when it comes to letting go of the need to be others-dependent. But reading this book brought up some interesting memories and images.
One of those images was of sitting in my papa’s back yard and picking petals off a daisy one by one while saying, “He loves me, he loves me not.” My girlfriends and I used to do this to determine if the guy we liked (in 7th grade I think), felt the same about us. This was exciting because one just never knew if the petals were going to run out on the dreaded “He loves me not” note. It also produced a lot of anxiety, as you can imagine, particularly if the young lady was convinced the subject of inquiry was destined to be her life partner.
In the arena of human relationships, I have sometimes wondered about my worth based on things as random as pulling petals off a daisy. I am good enough, I am not good enough . I am smart enough, I am not smart enough. I am pretty enough, I am not pretty enough. I am thin enough, I am not thin enough. I am cool enough, I am not cool enough. I am tall enough – let’s just pass this one by, okay? The underlying choice is this: I am enough, I am not enough. And I have often lived my life based on the dread of finding out I am not enough. Worse yet I spent too much time and energy trying to be good enough and making sure no one else found out I wasn’t enough because then they would love me not.
I felt that if I did what others wanted instead of pursuing my own passions and gifts, I would earn their love and respect. I entered into a dialogue with others that strove to hide me or challenged me to defend myself. An example of this is in the world of sacred dance – so much resistance and unkindness from people I allowed to define me in the beginning of my ministry. Sadly many were in the church, YIKES!!!! Thank God my church now supports and encourages the usage of all gifts, and the leadership acknowledges the art of dance as a valid form of prayer and worship. You see, God had other ideas in the face of the “You are not” crowd, and eventually I chose to listen to the only voice that matters. He has blessed the dance ministry He called me to beyond my wildest dreams.
All the above “nots” are lies. I am enough and God says so. And so are you dear one. The world makes a living (a killing really) on selling us an image that lands on the “I am enough,” petal. The problem is the criteria changes and one minute I am okay and the next I am not. But this changing criteria does not cloud God’s lens. He always sees us as enough, more than enough really, and he never makes a guessing game out of finding assurances of His love and approval. Even though I am moving away from the conflicting messages of the world view, there are still times I find myself wondering about my worth and asking for validation from the wrong sources or people.
So here’s what I’m gonna do. The next time my peripheral world starts running that old tape of “I am or I am not,” I plan to pick up my Bible and start reading with God’s truth in my line of vision and trust His faithfulness and plans for me.
He loves me – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
He loves me – Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Ps. 136:2
He loves me – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
He loves me – Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children. Ephesians 5:1
He loves me – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. Ps. 139:14
Then I’m gonna just dance right into God’s wonderful garden of blessings and enjoy all the beautiful flowers with their intact sets of petals.
Copyright October 2011
Lakewood, CO 80401