“I just want to speak the name of Jesus”. These are the words to a song I was introduced to recently (‘I Speak Jesus’ by Here be Lions and Darlene Zschech). The lyrics continue: “To every soul held captive by depression, I speak Jesus… Shout Jesus from the mountains… in the street… in the darkness over every enemy.”
When I was 18, I experienced a relationship breakup. I took it hard. If I was no longer good enough for him, who was I? I’d spent my life to this point, making myself into the person others wanted me to be… a people pleaser! And yet, this too is true, I’m rebellious at heart. I hate being told what to do and when to do it. It seems a contradiction of terms when I think about it in passing, being both a people pleaser and a rebel. And yet, it’s not God’s plan that we become who others want us to be, thus within us resides the need to be our authentic selves which when stifled, can appear as rebellion. That “self” must fight to be seen. To say the least, I’ve experienced a great deal of inner turmoil because of it, turning first in this direction, then off to that way. I have at times, felt as though I’m coming apart at the seams; unravelled at my lack of identity. My ability to be God’s creation has been distorted by who I thought I was supposed to be…
Shouldn’t I have had it all together? Shouldn’t I work toward and obtain the socially acceptable body, skin, hair, and clothes? Everything should be fine, right? When the church says to “come as you are”, they can’t mean me. I should understand algebra. I should be able to run for kilometres at a time, in an acceptable time. I should like camping, craft, and kid’s ministries. I should cry at that injustice but stifle that internal emotion. I should’ve made my kids do sport, drama, dance and participate in community fundraisers (apparently having highly academic kids wasn’t enough). I should have had a career, had more time for the kids, kept my house spotless, and had an open diary for serving in the church. No way should I have had time to watch TV, but why wasn’t I keeping up with what was happening on the latest reality show? My thongs don’t match. Is it okay to wear thongs? Wait! Now I’m being accused of being too high and mighty to wear thongs. You’re stressed, I should be too. You can’t serve that for dinner! What! You don’t make everything you eat and wear? You’re not enough. You’re too much. Come here. Go away. Stand still. Move! Did I mention that you should absolutely love camping, craft, and kid’s ministries?!? Is this striking a chord with anyone?
When I was 18, I forgot how to process my feelings. I became numb inside. The pain of the breakup was overwhelming. I broke the glass in the photo frame of the now ex-boyfriend and used it to cut the soles of my feet. I didn’t even know that was “a thing”. It wasn’t till another 18 years later when I was working alongside a social worker that I learned about ‘cutting’. It’s an emotional leakage of sorts. A tool you could say, in trying to feel something, anything; to express the ‘too much’ inside. I was so hurt; so lost, that I simply couldn’t find the words to articulate what I was experiencing.
I’m 52 now. My kids are grown, I have grandkids and greying hair and my body is definitely succumbing to gravity. I still don’t run, camp, do craft stuff or help-out in kid’s ministries. But here’s what I know… God sees me for who He made me to be.
What changed, you ask? I began to listen for God’s voice. And what I heard blew my mind, blew my world apart… I was to consider creation. Oh, how I love creation! The beach, the flowers,
the mountains, the ever-changing sky etc., but He told me to also consider the creation of me. So, here I am looking at myself… If I say I’m not good enough or don’t measure up, aren’t I disparaging God’s handiwork? Am I not disagreeing with what God Himself has declared good? He designed me; Scripture tells me so… it’s right there at the beginning of the Book! He made me to reflect His image. Like all nature, like all living things, I must conclude that I too am carefully formed by the hand of God. His word tells me how important I am to Him; not just that every hair on my head is known to Him or that He promises to provide my every need, but that God the Father sent His only Son to die for me. A love so great, so uncomprehendingly immense, caused Jesus to take on flesh in order to save even me from death. I am valuable because of who God is and what He’s done for and on behalf of me. My value is not in myself but in and because of the One who claimed me. In Christ I have the ultimate value. A value which the world has minimised, dismissed, and failed to comprehend.
You know, when Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit, they said in their hearts that they no longer agreed with what God had declared good; their trust in the Almighty failed and they chose to look to their own understanding. Since then, humanity has sought to be their own god. When we look back, what we see is people trusting their own wisdom and causing greater depravity, fear, doubt, and overwhelming shame. We have progressively made life worse and in our self-instigated efforts, we have distorted the beauty of Eden. The flow-on effect has been devastating both personally and corporately.
Scripture says: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Gal 5:1 (ESV; emphasis mine).
I have lived my life bound by incredible shame, by so much fear and filled to the brim with doubts. What about you? This is NOT God’s way for me or for you. But, in order to overcome what the enemy throws at us through his conduit, the world, we must enter into REAL relationship with Jesus; we must learn to trust Him in everything… EVERYTHING! The Apostle Paul wrote this for all believers: “Therefore, take up the whole armour of God, that you might be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Eph 6:13 (ESV; emphasis mine). When we find ourselves chained to expectations, to such shame and despair that our words fail us and we seek other avenues for relief, we need to know, unequivocally, that this is not the voice of the One who died for us! This is NOT the voice or the way of Jesus! The confusion, the angst, the bitterness, and resentment we feel, these are not from God our Creator, but the enemy, our adversary.
Today, would you say no to the voice of shame? Say no to doubt? Say no to fear? Would you align your focus to the voice of God instead and hear His words of pure love for you? Trade the world in, just as Jesus did, for a life of eternity with the Father. YOU are loved. YOU have immense value this world will never understand. YOU are a child of the Most High; God Almighty. He calls You (yes, even YOU), to come, literally, just as YOU are and to say ‘Yes, Jesus and amen.”
As Jesus says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” Matt 11:28-29 (NASB2020).
By Mel Paddick