“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – Matthew 6: 26-27
Holidays are a natural time for self-reflection, as many of us are able to spend some time away from work or school. Unfortunately, when we look into the mirror, we often aren’t very pleased with who we see looking back. So we make resolutions to improve in certain areas of our life, such as developing healthier eating habits, spending more time with family, and exercising the body and mind with more regularity.
But why don’t we do this all year long, instead of only during holidays or weekend retreats or summer camp? What if every week we took a minute or hour or day to reflect on who we are and where we are right now?
Could it be that we’re afraid of self-reflection because we won’t be happy with what we find?
Walking by faith is hard. Letting go of control is hard. Living with deep pain that just won’t go away is hard. Real life is really hard.
The truth of the matter is, we aren’t promised tomorrow. Therefore, we cannot wait for our circumstances to improve before we choose gratitude for who we are and where we are in life. Instead, let’s choose today, right now, to be thankful for the blessings we have, large and small.
Keep a “gratitude journal” and write down every day a few things for which you are thankful. Pray for those who have less; share the gifts you’ve received with others, and do so generously. Resolve to stay “tuned-in” to your life and the lives of those whom you love. Choose to embrace grace – for others and for yourself.
“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” – Genesis 1: 27, 31
If we can somehow manage to accept ourselves and where we are as “very good,” then we may not be so hesitant to look in the mirror, because the person looking back will be full of faith, hope and love. Then, just maybe, our eyes will see more clearly the opportunities we have all around us to draw closer to God and to our neighbors, in the good times and the hardest times.
What’s keeping you from looking in the mirror today and accepting who and what you see as good, and even “very good”?
I’m sorry for the lack of blog posts the past…month?! Wow. We have been staying busy with retreats and meetings and all sorts of things. I always find it neat how God can teach through seasons of busyness. You don’t always have to stop and meditate for God to show you something. Take notice of the little things that point you to Him- whether it’s the joy in someone’s eyes when they smile, or the warmth of your bed when you wake up in the morning, or the deep belly laughs- they can all serve as reminders of Dad’s love for us. Through this season of busyness Dad placed something on my heart that I struggle with a lot. I have a feeling that a lot of us struggle with it too. I struggle with failure. Being seen as a failure, not meeting expectations, falling short of goals, letting people down…any aspect of failure is to be avoided at all costs. In my efforts to avoid failure at all costs I feel at times like I’m putting on a show- that I have to earn people’s approval through my successes or what I can do for them. The show that I put on, that “What have you done for me lately?” attitude, also plays a role in my relationship with God.
A father’s love is unconditional. I’m reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-31. Despite the son’s abandonment and disrespect towards his father, he is welcomed back with open arms and the relationship is instantly restored. The son had failed, yet his father still loved. At that moment the son realized that his relationship with his father was not based on his successes or failures. His father loved him just because. If an earthly father can love like this, how much more can our Heavenly Father love us?
For me personally, not knowing and feeling love like this really affected how I viewed my relationship with God. My earthly father didn’t love me just because, so why would my Heavenly Father love me just because? This way of thinking has led to me to try and earn God’s love and approval. I get caught up in a works-based faith that rises and falls depending on my successes and failures. I can’t fail because then God won’t love me. I can’t fall short because then I’ll be stripped of my position as His son. I need to work for His love so that my identity will be secured. The good news is that those are all lies! Our Heavenly Father loves us just because!
Romans 8:38-39 reminds me of His unconditional love.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reminds me to rejoice in my weaknesses and to rest in Christ.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
And Jesus’ words in John 10:27-29 reminds me that my position as God’s son is secure.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Despite our failures, He is waiting with open arms to embrace us. We are utterly exposed before Him, yet unconditionally loved by Him. Run to Him today instead of running around searching for approval. Dad loves us just because.