I just read a post shared by a friend of mine on Facebook that said “Your ministry is found where you’ve been broken…your testimony is found where you’ve been restored.” I have been both broken and restored.
There’s a wound in me that I believe God is bringing towards healing. It has to do with self-image, how I see myself. I have always had a poor self-image. I can remember being in grade school with my classmates and always aware of feeling less than the other kids. My family was not poor; we had all we needed. But we didn’t have what many other kids took for granted. A lot of my clothes were hand-me-downs or (the more P.C. phrase) gently used.
I remember one day, I believe in 5th or 6th grade, I had on a shirt that I wasn’t all that crazy about. I can’t remember why, whether it was the color (in the green family) or the style (kind of a tunic). In any case, I remember it had a tiny little collar on it, a short row of buttons at the neck, and long sleeves. One of the other girls in my class, one who very rarely talked to me, actually spoke to me that day and said it was a cute shirt, and I just needed to lift the collar up and I’d be stylish (it was the 80s, don’t judge-besides it’s coming back around again like fashions always do).
I remember being so flattered that she would speak to me, that she would be even remotely interested in my appearance. But the shirt is what caught her eye, not me. It was incidental that I was the one in the shirt. She spoke to me that brief moment that day, then went back to her friends.
The shirt brought me her attention, however briefly, and the attention was what I craved. Since I remember it so well, even close to 40 years later, it obviously made quite an impact on me. A conclusion was drawn there, and it has been part of the foundation of my belief system since then.
That system of beliefs has told me that it’s not who I am that is worthy, it’s what I wear, what I own, what I do for a living, who my friends are, who has picked me. That belief system has told me I’m not good enough, just not quite there. Close, but not close enough. I can walk down memory lane right now, as far back as I can clearly recall, and see over and over again where I’ve felt less than, just not good enough. Where I’ve not been picked for a part, where friends seem to come and go quickly, where those I idolized seemed to have no interest in me. I blamed it on not having enough money growing up, but underneath, subconsciously my fear was that it was just me. I was never going to be enough.
I have a tattoo on my arm that reads “I am enough” in Gaelic. It is a reminder to me that no matter what anyone else thinks, I am enough. I had that tattoo done out of my pain, the pain that had built up year after year of never feeling good enough for my ex-husband. I’m not vilifying him, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m quite sure he could and would tell a different story. But this is my story, and I don’t have to defer to anyone else’s perception of it, so I get to tell it the way it was to me.
There were so many instances in this primary relationship in my life, my only experience with romantic love, that reinforced my core belief system. I was thrust into situation after situation that layered proof upon proof that I was just never going to be enough. I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, sexy enough; or smart enough, a good enough housekeeper, good enough money manager. Later it was that I just didn’t love him enough, didn’t try hard enough to please him. I just needed to change who I was, to become more like what he wanted me to be. I needed to be more open minded and try new things. My hopes and dreams were never good enough. My concept of marriage wasn’t the right concept. I was damaged by my upbringing. These are all things I heard throughout the course of that relationship.
It’s hard to hear that over and over again, to never feel heard or understood. When it’s piled on top of a lifetime of feeling like you never measure up, it becomes a deep deep wound in your soul.
I believe in my heart of hearts that my ex-husband truly never intended to tear me down the way he did. I know he is flawed and damaged himself, and needs restoration from our loving Father. I know that our Father is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or think, and can restore a broken and flawed human who has broken others.
I know our Father can restore, because He is restoring me.
I am so thankful that when my rock bottom came, when my breaking point came, God had me in a season of living alone. I’m thankful that I am still in that season, because He has so much more to teach me.
I am particularly thankful that for a period of time, it was just me and Jesus day after day. For exactly 40 days, it was just the two of us alone, and just me, Jesus, and my mom once a week. He had not urged me to begin attending church yet. But He had me alone, and He began to heal me.
I can’t begin to describe to anyone now how He loved me during that time, and every day since. His love is pure and holy and true and healing. His love seeps into every area of my heart, my mind, my soul.
I can truthfully say that I am unworthy of the depth of His love; we all are. No one is worthy of it. Yet, He sees us as worthy of His love. He sees us as worth any effort, as worth any price, not on the basis of anything we could produce or become, but because He is love. He created us out of that love, and He calls to us, longing to be in relationship with us, longing for us to love Him back.
It has nothing to do with what we wear, where we live or work, who our friends are. He loved us before we were ever born. Psalm 139 says that He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs.
No amount of effort on my part, no amount of trying hard, no amount of work or worry will ever make Him love me any more than He already does. No amount of failure, no flaw, no fear, no baggage, no sin will ever make Him love me any less. I don’t have to get better first, I don’t have to make myself righteous, I don’t have to make this sow’s ear into a silk purse. He just wants me. He wants all of me. He chooses me.
He is healing me day by day. There are days when I let Him down, when I disappoint Him, and yet He still shows me that He loves me. There are days when my tongue gets away from me and I regret what I’ve said. There are days when I do something stupid and feel foolish and less. There are days where I feel those same feelings, when I feel less and not enough, and He stops me, and He whispers the truth to my heart.
I am enough because He loves me, and He says I am enough.