What number would you give yourself? Three, seven, nine? We are often our harshest critics, aren't we? The scale we use on ourselves taunts back, "Not good enough. Failure. Fraud. Insufficient." What we don't realize is that those around us--aside from a few insignificant naysayers--find us altogether different. But in their vision, we're over-comers, victorious, successful, valuable, lovely, worthy.
I used to believe that my husband wouldn't value me if I didn't keep up: perfect housekeeper, cook, caretaker, etc. If I let his work clothes pile up in the laundry or didn't go to the grocery store as soon as his favorite cereal was gone, I'd win the "worst wife" award. What a faulty perception, and even worse, what a negative view I projected on my husband. He appreciates what I do around the house--and tells me frequently--but never has he gotten upset over a dirty shirt or an empty pantry. I was expecting more of myself than he was of me.
Sometimes we project those insecurities on God too. If I don't obey perfectly, He won't want to interact with me. If I yell at the kids or eat too many cookies or fail to pray for ten minutes every morning, he'll scowl and shun me and say, "You're not worth it." If I miss Bible study, I won't be worthy of His grace. Truth is, you aren't worthy of His grace no matter what you do. That's the beautiful freedom of His love. It beckons us and pursues us, even before we become His (Romans 5:8). We are accepted and loved because of Him, not because of us. "My identity is not based on what I do; it's based on what God did for me" (Jennifer Rothschild, Invisible). We just have to be ourselves, leaning wholly into Him who makes us whole. He understands that we are dust, grass, a vapor--quick to fade away. He knew we'd never make it on our own. We don't have to prove anything, because He already proved it all on the cross. "We tell ourselves we must perform in order to be accepted, yet God has already performed on our behalf" (Jennifer Rothschild, Invisible).
As Jennifer's book radiates, we are never invisible to our Creator and Lover. And when we rest in that visibility and acceptance, other labels and judgments on us fall away. We are free to be ourselves and we are freed to let others be themselves as well.
“To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God's infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen,
Remember, you are His, created for a specific purpose and loved no matter what. When someone threatens your identity or jealousy creeps into your spirit ("I just wish I was more like..."), choose to celebrate the success in others. Get behind someone and rally them forward. And don't forget that your God celebrates you! Run on that incredible fuel today.