Connecting with God
When I was growing up, people in my church often said that they felt as though they were “God’s favorite.” Though I would laugh and nod my head, the truth is I never fully understood.
My relationship with God has been complicated.
That may sound strange coming from the daughter of a pastor or it may even be expected, given the stereotype that exists about preachers’ kids. I just couldn’t fully fathom the concept of there being a higher power that had great affection and love for me as an individual.
When I look at the earth, the miracle of birth, and the vast natural wonders that exist, I know undoubtedly that the source of civilization began in the mind of a Master Creator. The barricade that existed for me in my relationship with God was constructed by many false representations of God. Those false ideas derived from experiences in church, low self-esteem, mistakes, and disappointments that produced extreme tension. To put it frankly,
I believed in God, but I struggled with the idea that God believed in me.
That internal quarrel made it difficult for me to have a personal revelation and relationship with Him.
When the day-to-day frustrations of life begin to pile up, it may be difficult for you to remember, but living in the consciousness of this truth each day will give you perspective on how to navigate circumstances that are out of your control. I have come to the realization that you are more than a body taking up space on this earth. Your life was manifested because of a need that existed in the world. Feelings of unworthiness don’t just damage our relationships; they diminish our ability to maximize the power available to us through our divine connection with God.
There is nothing that has ever happened to you or anything that you’ve done that cannot work to produce peace and joy in your life. If you’re like me, you may be thinking about all of the memories that invalidate this thought. I totally understand, but the truth is there is not one incredible thing in my life currently that did not come through the by-product of something that once caused me great pain. From the depths of your sorrow, God wants to manifest blessings that far outweigh any hurt you’ve experienced. When life becomes tough, we begin to believe that we have been dealt an unfair hand. No matter how much we believe this to be so, we always have encounters with people who are experiencing something worse. When you become so consumed with counting what is going wrong with your life that you don’t take the time to truly appreciate what is going well, you invite despair.
Regret obscures the possibilities that exist in the present.
You don’t get do-overs in life because you don’t need them. You needed to mess up. You had to make those mistakes. Your heart had to be broken. You needed to lose your way. There are lessons in those moments that could not have been delivered any other way. You cannot live in the past and maximize the present.
I’ve got a list as long as the Mississippi of things that have occurred in my life that were less than ideal. With each disappointment and setback I found myself drifting further and further away from the idea the possibilities that God has a perfect plan for my life. I couldn’t understand why He would allow some of the things I experienced to happen to me.
As if those thoughts were not tormenting enough, there were the other thoughts that plagued me when I tried to believe in His unconditional love. It was the idea that I’d done too much to receive the redemption I so desperately wanted. Convinced that any hope of better was reserved for those who’d chosen a more righteous past, I created a faith relationship that worshiped God but demeaned myself. You cannot love God and hate your life at the same time.
Our greatest responsibility and challenge in the quest for higher thinking is daring to find light in our darkest situations.
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Lord, It’s taken me all of this time realize how much I mean to You. I look back on the times when life was breaking me to my core and I see Your love constantly surrounding me. Somehow I let the idea of what our connection was “supposed” to look like rob me of the beauty of what it truly was. I can remember the moments when I felt so connected to everything around me. I remember the moments when life felt so much bigger than me and instead of making me feel afraid, it invigorated me. It made me feel like all things were possible for me. Now that I’ve hurt a bit more and cried a few more tears, I realize that hope is an endangered emotion in a world full of fear. Yet, You’ve constantly refilled the jar that holds my hope when I needed it the most. The more I followed the voice within that challenged me not just to feel good, but to be better, the more I realized that voice was You all along. I always felt like there would be this moment when a deep booming voice would grab my attention. I didn’t realize it was truly the still small voice that was the inside of me ordering each of my steps into a direction that would reveal the best of me. Thank You for preserving me, for keeping me protected, for trusting me with this breath. Now that my eyes have been opened, I see You in everything. I see Your love staring at me in the craziest of moments. It’s in the words that find me right when I need them. It’s in the way I thought I was down to my last, but I got a second chance right when I needed it. It’s in the way You gave me the strength to walk away. It’s in the way You gave me the discipline to withstand the pain and process of change. All this time I thought that I wasn’t good enough for You, but the truth is You were waiting for me see that even when I felt the most alone, You’ve been covering me.
Excerpted with permission from Don’t Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes Roberts, copyright Sarah Jakes Roberts. Published by Thomas Nelson.
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Don't Settle for Safe
Sarah Jakes Roberts
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