A few years ago when I took the Minister of Children position, I had my first taste of discrimination. It pales in comparison to what many experience, not here to pretend to compare, but to say it opened my eyes. A friendship changed after taking that position as a woman on a ministry team and it was a painful realization for me about a few things. That for some people who I was, was the sum of what I did or didn’t do. That my value in their eyes could change based on choices I was making.
- Even if I had good reason for making those choices.
- Even if I felt the Holy Spirit’s guiding and prompting to make those decisions.
- Even if I tried to discuss, make others see and understand.
- Even if they understood, but just couldn’t agree with me.
- Somehow who I was, our shared experiences, who I had been before, wasn’t enough or had a new filter on it.
For me it brought up a lot of ugly truths about how I measured people. When suddenly my value in someone’s eyes changed because I was a woman in leadership, it hurt to not be supported or loved just because I was first Bethany. In processing through this those first few months I was in ministry and feeling the loss of that friendship, I was deeply convicted. There’s nothing like experiencing a kind of pain that then magnifies your own sin. The type of thing like ‘this really hurts, have I ever done this to someone?’ And then realizing you had. So many times I’ve judged, estimated, evaluated, and discriminated. Unknowingly, sometimes knowingly. In viewing others and esteeming them, my lens was not God’s lens.
Let’s be real sometimes I’m wearing coke bottle glasses.
It was humbling. And I’ve committed to change. I’ve asked God to replace my filters with His vision. And if I can’t understand or agree with someone, that I can entrust them to His good and perfect care. After all He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of our souls.
It is deep within me the desire to be understood. To be valued and to be good. To make the right decisions and with the least amount of impact or disruption. I don’t like to make bad choices. I don’t like to hurt people with my decisions and I don’t like being misunderstood. The shadow side of this is that I bend over backwards to make sure you know my heart. I hang out in situations, keep extending conversations, and putting myself in unhealthy or dysfunctional spaces to ensure you think I am good, worthy and enough. I am incredibly honest that at times that sets me up for extra pain because of my vulnerability. Because here’s the thing you can be honest, filet your heart, show others yourself and still be misunderstood by them. There isn’t a thing I can do with others past experiences, with other’s beliefs and other’s family and friend systems that have impacted the lens with which they view life. The darkest part of this for me is that somehow wrapped up in all of this ball of Bethany, I began to need other’s approval and validation. My worth as God’s creation, with distinct purpose, and lovely well thought out characteristics He gave me; I have cheapened to other’s opinions and gave power to their words over my life.
SO MUCH of the last 3 years have built to this apex. The crescendo built through
- Sustaining the shop through covid.
- Ministering through the pandemic.
- Being stripped of my false self and false beliefs about faith.
- Parenting on a new level.
- Marriage in our terms.
- Family dynamics.
- Selling our house and moving to a rental.
- Buying the farm.
- Closing the shop.
- Leaving my home church.
- Starting at a new church.
SO MUCH action.
SO MUCH decision making.
SO MUCH unlearning.
SO MUCH redefining.
SO MUCH prioritizing.
SO MUCH self forgiveness.
You guys? My mind, body and spirit is so tired and yet I’m so alive.
A few weeks ago I had an encounter that was so powerful in the moment. You ever have moments when its happening and you are like this is big, but you know it’s going to mean something even more in the future? I was at church during the first session of the series “Love Well” at Life Center. I had this moment with the Holy Spirit where He revealed how I had begun to define myself based off of another’s perception of me. I had allowed their painful words, actions, reactions, and manipulations to change how I viewed myself.
No matter what boundaries I gave up, how much I gave to them, I couldn’t get them to love me for me.
I came to this night exhausted, out of options, without a plan or exit strategy and pretty pissed off. I was pissed at me, at them, at Scotty, at a lot. During the speaker’s story, I inserted myself into what she was describing. It was a story about a young woman whose father had not been a good man and who on his deathbed had accepted Christ. She felt frustrated that she couldn’t have experienced a father with Christ as his center. Part of the story was that in counseling they had asked her what her dad would say to her now as a healing exercise. It was almost as if in that instant Christ had inserted himself in my hard situation right between me and the other. As a protection, but also as an opportunity to see myself as He sees me. He gave me a chance to redefine myself in this relationship through Him. Except He didn’t give me the easy way out, He wasn’t repeating it again. In order for it to stick in my thick head, I was to repeat back to Him what that new definition was. I had to write it out, say it out loud, and share with another person that night during a time of healing prayer.
I am worthy of love.
I am a good wife to Scotty. I am a good mom to Colin, Calle, and Carter.
My value is not in how I look. Or how happy I make anyone. Or whether they subscribe to our family’s life. My value does not come from other’s perception of me.
Dang. That was a doozy. Calle and I cried the whole way home. Ugly cried.
It was such a powerful reminder that I am who I am. God made me. God desires relationship with me. His work is gentle work. It’s not a condemning work but an empowering work. He defined me at creation. And my acceptance of His gift of salvation has delivered me eternally.
I’ve wanted to write about this experience ever since, but couldn’t seem to find the words until today.
I’m ending this with the anticipation of writing some more about it but not today because I am still trying to process some thoughts. Thoughts that were stirred today by this word from Charles Stock
“We shouldn’t be complaining about God’s standards, we should be celebrating His mercy.” And “If God was small enough for our brains, He wouldn’t be big enough to handle our problems.”
Today I am celebrating God’s mercy to me. To give me what I don’t deserve just because He loves me that much. And grateful that my limited perceptions of who God is do not begin to scratch the surface of who He actually is.