Sometimes God takes us on a heart journey we never expected. The very things we think have a pretty enough bow on them, carefully covered up to look safe and healthy and secure are anything but that. And He, in a way that only He can, patiently loves us, patiently walks with us, patiently continues to pour Himself into us.
But we miss it.
We miss it because what is always there is often looked over... forgotten. It's taken advantage of. And the very thing we're seeking from someone else, and sometimes from anyone else, is right there beside us.
I think about that with my family. The husband and three boys I am head-over-heels in love with. God, in His great grace, has gifted me with what I feel is the best family there ever could be. As a young and clueless 18-year-old who only had a small idea of what she was looking for in a husband, He led me straight to the man He knew I'd spend my forever with. Because we were 18 and 19 when we met and had no clue what it really meant to be husband and wife, had no idea what the years ahead would hold, and probably had no business getting married at 20 and 21 (young, not quite done with college, no money, etc.)... well, if nothing else it's proof that God's plan is so, so good, and He knew the kind of husband I would need, and the kind of wife Brian would need, even if we weren't those people quite yet. He knew we'd get there.
And our boys? They're incredible... and hilarious and messy and thoughtful and forgetful... and by some miracle the best parts of Brian and me, by God's grace. And together the 5 of us are trying every day to live a life that points others to Jesus. We argue and disagree, we mess up and get plenty of things wrong. We're a passionate bunch, and that comes out in different ways. But.... yes, there's always a but, right? Every day we remember why we're here. And Brian and I take the job of raising these young men into strong men of God very seriously, so we talk about hard things. What used to make them squirm uncomfortably they now take like champs (usually - ha!), because we're slowly learning that there's nothing they can tell us that we can't handle. Nothing that will ever change how we feel about them. Nothing God's grace can't heal and forgive. And nothing that would keep us from fighting to have the best possible relationship with each other that we could ever have. That's what God does for us. That's what He's modeled for us to do here.
It's also what has caused me to pause these past several months and take a good hard look at my life. On what and who I place my security in. You see, I'm blessed with a pretty awesome family who loves me well. So it's pretty easy to place my security in them. To allow, and unfortunately, expect them to fill my cup. That's not their job, and when I place my security and sense of worth in them, or in friendships, or on how people feel about me at work or at church, then I'm not trusting my heart with the only One who is able to best take care of it, not to mention putting unrealistic pressures on the the ones I love the most.
God is the giver of all good things. He wants to bless us and love us through people and experiences. But when we let those good things take precedence over Him, when we put our stock, our very identity, in those relationships, they become little gods that pull us away from what really matters most.
In our enjoyment of the good things, we forget the Giver of the good things. We leave Him behind.
The older I get, the more insecure I realize I am. The more I look to everyone else for validation. I check through a mental list of people, wondering if each of them are happy with me. It's exhausting. And not at all what God intended. And it's taken a couple of difficult circumstances to make me realize that the job of being the people pleaser is an impossible one.
God met me where I was in that place. And slowly, He's leading me out of it. It is taking a lot of encouragement and reminders that I am loved and cherished and valued, no matter what. No matter what. But He's hanging in there with me, because that's what He does.
And you, my friend, are loved and cherished and valued, no matter what.
An identity crisis, when it pulls us away from His plan for us, is a sin. It just is. It puts the focus on ourselves and our needs and our validation and our feelings and the endless pursuit of acceptance and happiness. And I can tell you from experience, we're never going to find it when we look in there. Never.
But when we dig deep into God's Word and read that He loves us with an everlasting love, that He forgives us and has a beautiful plan for our life, that we are never out of His reach, we will begin to trust that His promises really are true. That He is more than enough. And the weight that we didn't even realize we were carrying? It's lifted and gone.
Am I there yet? Nope. Not completely. It takes a long time to break a lifetime of habits like this. But one day at a time, we're getting there, and I am so thankful.
Yes, God lovingly meets us right where we are, but He never intends for us to stay there. And we can trust that He will be right within us, beside us, and before us, leading us out.