I've been mentoring young ladies for several years now, and one theme I've started to notice throughout every relationship is the sense that my girls don't feel worthwhile. Somewhere deep in the back of their minds, they have this feeling that they're not good enough to be loved and that they have to work hard to earn the approval of others because there is no way they could ever be accepted as they truly are. I've heard from several of my male friends that this holds true for them too, but is expressed in a different way. Therefore, I would like to share some of the things God has taught me through the years and that my girls have found helpful in dispelling these vicious lies.
Truth 1: You Don't Have to be Good Enough
Did you know that God doesn't expect you to earn his approval? Did you know that you already have his approval? It's true! If you're his child, then he's already chosen you and wooed you and rescued you out of a living death! Let's look at some Scripture, shall we?
Isaiah 43:1-4 "But now, this is what the Lord says--He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed [some translations say "ransomed"] you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you walk through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.'"
In case you are wondering, yes, that is my favorite passage of Scripture! Do you know why? Because God gave this prophecy to Israel when they had completely turned their backs on him. Go read chapter 42 of Isaiah, and you will get a good idea of just how far Israel ran away from God. He would have totally been justified in giving up on them, but he continued to rescue them and woo them back to him. Isn't it wonderful?
Notice how God uses the word "ransom" to indicate what he's done for Israel. Would God have ransomed Israel if they didn't already have some sort of value to him? No! He would have just let them stay where they were and die. He valued them enough to give up something precious to him. And we know from chapter 42 that Israel was definitely not deserving to be ransomed. Therefore, Israel did not have to be good enough to earn God's love, because he had already given it.
Truth 2: God's Love Never Fails
This truth is tied very closely with the other one. A lot of the time, I think people may grab hold of the first truth, but as soon as they mess up, they think that God must be disappointed with them. I personally struggled with this for a really long time (and still frequently do). You see, I am rather horrible at memorizing Scripture and waking up early enough to read my Bible and pray in the mornings before I head off to work and remembering to ask people I meet whether or not they have a personal relationship with Christ. Yes, I admit it, I am not the best Navigator in the whole world. (If you do not know what the Navigators are, they are a Christian organization with a college ministry branch that encourages young people to grow in Christ-likeness by reading the Bible, praying, evangelizing, and participating in discipleship ((or one-on-one mentoring, if you prefer that term)). I am very grateful to them because the A&M Navs are part of the reason why I came back to God after running away from him for a very long time. Yay Navs!)
Now, I am not discrediting the value of these things, because they are extremely important to maintaining a relationship with Christ (you know, just like spending time with your significant other is important in maintaining the relationship), but the point of them is not to keep God happy with you. Got it? His love is not dependent on the things you do or refrain from doing. If you mess up, he's not going to throw you out like the garbage. He doesn't work like that. Need proof? Here's some more Scripture!
Isaiah 54:10 "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you."
Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
There's many, many more verses about God's unfailing love, but I will leave it up to you to find them.
Truth 3: God Has a Plan for You, and it is For Your Good
I'm sure most of you have seen or heard Jeremiah 29:11 many, many times. It's a pretty popular verse. But have you ever stopped to ponder what the verse really means for your own life? I think we've heard it so many times that it has lost meaning in our modern Christian culture. Let's stop for a minute and apply it to my senior year of college, shall we?
Here's a brief summary of my senior year and summer after I graduated: I applied for graduate school and was rejected quite soundly, found out that I have a medical problem that may prevent my dream of a family from becoming a reality, and was denied a job at the only place I wanted to work, all within the span of a few weeks. Yes, many of my dreams were crushed during that time and I had to reevaluate whether they were what I really wanted. I went to countless job fairs, applied for hundreds of jobs through the employment center and job search engines, had dozens of interviews, and never received a job offer. I finally got an internship at a large organization in Dallas that started right after graduation, but it ended in August. During my internship, I sent out hundreds of resumes, applied for dozens of jobs, had several interviews, and still didn't have a job offer in August. It wasn't until 3 days before my internship ended that I received a call from my current boss asking if I could start the next week. And that was my senior year.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'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.'"
From November until August, I clung to verses like this and the ones I quoted earlier in this blog. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen once my internship was over. For someone who plans everything out, this was absolutely terrifying! I felt like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly at the mercy of the wind. I had to continually make a conscious decision to trust God that he meant what he said in Jeremiah. And here's what I learned through that process: God has a plan for my life, a plan that is good and that is for my good. It may not always look like what I think it should look like. It may be hard and frustrating at times. I may have no clue what my next step will be. But you know what? His plan is better than anything I could have thought of myself.
Well I just thought I would share my heart here. I hope at least some of you learned something useful.