I’m an artist, which should tell you two things about me: I like beautiful things and I am extremely detail-oriented. Both of these qualities are such good things when they are rightly ordered, but somewhere along the path of my life Satan snuck in and completely twisted them up, making me believe that flawed things can’t be beautiful or good – making me believe that I couldn’t be beautiful or good if I was flawed.
I have subjected myself to intense scrutiny and held myself to unrealistically high standards for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, this manifested itself in a relentless work ethic when it came to my schoolwork; I would fall into terrible moods when I received less-than-perfect marks. But as I grew older and faced more difficult tasks and situations, I became a quitter. Not trying was easier on my emotions than trying and potentially suffering the embarrassment of failure.
“Failure” covered a wide range of situations, in my mind. It was anything from misspeaking to admitting a struggle, from being wrong about something (or someone) to not getting a job I applied for (even if I didn’t want it that much) – anything that alerted people to the fact that I was imperfect. Because even though I was all too aware of my flaws, my worst fear was that other people would notice them. Because if they “found out” that I wasn’t perfect, they wouldn’t love me.
On the flip side, I also placed the highest importance on affirmation from my family, friends, co-workers – anyone, really. Because to me, affirmation equaled love. I have always liked to dress well, but when anyone would compliment my outfit or just my style in general, the first thing that would go through my head was, “Now I have to dress this well all the time, or else they won’t like me anymore.” Not too long ago I lost a lot of weight and people were constantly telling me how good I looked. When I started to gain it back again, I immediately thought, “Now they’re going to stop loving me.”
I’ve been speaking about all of this in the past tense, but I want be honest with you: I still struggle against this lie every single day of my life. It is a daily battle for me to choose to see myself through the eyes of Truth – the eyes of the Lord – than through my own eyes that have been clouded by the lies of the Enemy.
The beautiful truth of the matter is this: we have a perfect Father in heaven who sees our imperfections and loves us anyway. It’s not that He says, “I know you have all these issues, but I’m going to pretend they don’t exist. I love you anyway.” No. We have a Father who says, “I see your brokenness and it does not frighten Me in the least. My love for you is infinitely greater than the lies you believe and the mistakes you make.”
Now of course this is something that is often hard for me to believe. It seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? But every now and then the Lord uses little moments to teach me this truth and bring about healing in my broken heart.
This past summer, God blessed me with one such healing moment. I was introducing myself to someone I had never met before, and as he was shaking my hand, he said in the most loving, sincere voice, “You have beautiful eyes. They reflect the love of the Lord.”
His words pierced my heart, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them for the next few days. In that moment, I realized that I had become so consumed with myself and my own faults and failures that I had taken my eyes off the One who reveals to me the truth about myself: that I am His, and I am loved. It is His love for me that makes me beautiful and good, not my own efforts.
In these last days of Advent, I want to encourage you to turn your gaze outward toward the Lord. Stop trying to find your worth in what other people think of you or what you think of yourself. Look to God and allow Him to tell you who you are.
And when you do turn your eyes to Him, you will hear Him say, “My child, I sent My Son to be born as a tiny babe because I love you. He came to Earth to die for you because I love you. Nothing you could do will ever change that.”
Live in the Truth, brothers and sisters. Merry Christmas.