I had a muddled view of God throughout most of my teenage years. I believed in Him, but I had no clue how deeply He loved me. Because of some of my life experiences, a part of me even thought that I had to earn His love.
I was often viewed as the “responsible girl” who made all the right choices. I was very much of a “people-pleaser” and a perfectionist. And while the face I presented to the world might have been one of a girl who “had it all together,” the truth is—I did not.
On the inside I was confused and hurting. I yearned for love and affirmation, but I often felt like I didn’t measure up. I tried to earn acceptance by doing the right things and striving to be beautiful in the eyes of the world. I was living with a “you have to earn it” mentality, rather than living under God’s grace.
When I was 18 years old, God got a hold of my attention in a gentle yet very noticeable way. I realized that while I believed in Him, I wasn’t following Him with all of my heart—I wasn’t following His path for my life because I was trying to do things my own way. My heart was unfulfilled, and I longed to be satisfied. It was during that season of my life that I chose to fully surrender every part of me to the Lord. I stopped chasing after an illusion, and I decided to start trusting Him.
About 13 years have passed since that time, and my feet are now planted on the path of life. I have experienced the joy and peace that comes from allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life.
I no longer believe the lie that I have to earn His love. Instead, I believe that His love is unconditional and never ceasing. I know that He loves me just as I am. I know that His grace is always enough for me. I know that He is faithful and trustworthy. His promises are deeply rooted in my heart and no one can steal that away from me.
God transformed my mind and my heart. I went from being a girl who believed that I had to “earn” God’s approval, to becoming a woman who thrives in God’s unconditional love and grace. God healed my heart with His love. God calmed my fears with His love. God crushed the lies with His love. God gave me hope with His love.
And now it is…
My joy to honor Him. And not because I have to. But because I get to.
When I think about how God chose to pour out His love on this world by allowing His only Son to hang on the Cross and take our place, I can’t help but want to honor Him. He’s my King and I love Him. It’s not a chore to honor Him—it’s a privilege. My life has been changed by His love and I trust that He knows what is best for me. His Word, the Bible, is full of truth and wisdom—and it’s not meant to be a book of rules. It’s meant to point us in the direction of Him and His love. He desires to bring good to our lives. And if He asks us to stay away from something, it’s out of His great love for us. He doesn’t want us to choose the things that He knows will harm us.
Jesus said this to His disciples shortly before His death:
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
~John 15:9-11 (NLT)
True joy comes from abiding in God’s love. And we can have joy at all times, because unlike happiness, it doesn’t depend on our circumstances. Obedience to God is not always easy. Sometimes it means that we will look very different than the rest of the world. Sometimes we will loose friends because of our faith. Sometimes we will be stretched beyond the realms of our comfort zone.
But remember all that Jesus experienced during His ministry here on earth. He was mocked, He was rejected, He was betrayed…He was crucified. And He endured it all for us. He understands it all, and if we remain in Him, He will help us every single step of the way. His love will give us the strength we need to endure the bumps in the road.
Understanding God’s love changes everything. It changed my heart. It changed my thoughts. It changed my perspective. It changed my attitude. It changed my actions. It changed my entire life because it gave me ‘new life’ in Him. God continues to renew me, and as He does, day by day…
It is my joy to honor Him.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
~Galatians 2:19-21 (NKJV)
(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood