“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” Brennan Manning, “The Rabbi’s Heartache”
In chapter 11, Lee shares more of her own journey in which she is confronted with the truth of God’s infinite love. Her family jokingly but lovingly referred to her as an accident and that is what she sees herself as. She accepted it as truth and as such, set out to prove to her family that she was not an accident but rather that she had a purpose. Her strong marriage, her good job, her beautiful children and her healthy weight (after dealing with an eating disorder) were all signs that she was okay… that they did not have to regret her existence.
At a celebration for her 43rd birthday, she questioned her father about that truth… was she really an accident? Her father assured her that she was not, but that rather she was planned. As her mother had lost a sibling to cancer, she did not want to have just two children in case something happened to one and the sibling was left all alone. So now, Lee did not feel like an accident but rather as a fill-in child or as she puts it “a backup plan.” She was not sure how she felt about that either. She likened it to being an understudy in a theater production… there just in case she was needed.
I felt as though I was reading my autobiography as I read this chapter for I, too, found out at a young age, that I was an accidental pregnancy. I am not sure my mother ever intended for me to know but it came out in an argument with one of my sisters and was thrown at me in anger. When I approached my mother about what had been said, she explained that I was not an accident but rather a surprise that came at a difficult financial time in their marriage. My dad had just started a new job and their health insurance was not in effect yet, so the cost of a pregnancy was not something they had planned for. She did her best to assure me that it had no affect on their love for me… but the damage was done. The taunt became truth in my mind.
Lee takes the knowledge that she was the “backup plan” and tucks it away into the locked box of memories and past hurts that she keeps tucked away in her heart. It was not until she was on a weekend of rest and contemplation that it found its way out of that box. She loves to read and in a particular book that she took with her that weekend, she read these words “We are called to claim our unique brokenness just as we have to claim our unique chosenness and our unique blessedness.” (Henri Nouwen) This brought to her mind a conversation with a chaplain friend who told her God adores her. How could God adore her when she was a fill-in or a backup? But God kept nudging her with the truth that she did not have to prove her worth to anyone… He adores her and that is enough.
Her struggles to BE enough and to DO enough mirror my own. I have tried to prove I am good enough but never felt I reached that goal. I always fall short which in turn, adds fuel to the lies. It is time to refute the lie that I was an accident and replace it with the truth. It is time to listen to those whispers of God telling me that He adores me… just as I am.
1. How does it make you feel when someone suggests that God adores you just as you are right now? What do you say to this idea?
Those words are hard to me to process. My initial reaction is “how could He when He knows what I have done and what thoughts I have?” I am taking baby steps in this process and one of those steps is this blog. I am peeling away the layers of my “story” so I can see the real me… the one God adores.
2. What lies do you believe about yourself that you need to let go and let God heal?
I am not worthy… I have no value…I have no purpose…I don’t measure up… these are the thoughts that cycle through my mind.
3. What do you think of Nouwen’s claim that the sense of being cursed often comes more easily than that sense of being blessed, and we can find enough arguments to feed it?” What arguments feed your belief that you are bad or unworthy? List three arguments for God’s love that contradict these.
I think our sinful nature makes us feel we are unworthy of being blessed. I envision those cartoon-ish characters on each shoulder… one angelic and one devilish each whispering in our ears… “You are adored” and “You are not worthy!” The arguments that I cling to are “my sins are too big” and “I was not wanted” and “I don’t fit in.”
***3 arguments for God’s love:
Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.””
From the song “White as Snow”
“White as snow, white as snow, thought my sins were as scarlet, Lord I know, Lord I know, that I’m clean and forgiven. Through the power of Your blood, through the wonder of Your love,through faith in you I know that I can be white as snow.”
4. In Romans 5: 8, the apostle Paul said “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” What do you think this says about the relationship between God’s love and our flaws?
God does not see us as anything but washed clean. We are the ones who look at ourselves and see the filth of sin.*