I am reading a book called Abba's Child by Brennan Manning. I also just finished another book of his called The Furious Longing of God, which was a wonderful book, and highly recommend as well!
Already the first chapter has spoken to me. (as has the preface) The first chapter is called "Come out of Hiding" and speaks to the fact that "we so unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves. As Blaise Pascal wrote, "God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment." Thus, if we feel hateful toward ourselves, we assume that God feels hateful toward us."
"But we cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves - unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely. In human form Jesus revealed to us what God is like. It takes a profound conversion to accept that God is relentlessly tender and compassionate toward us just as we are - not in spite of our sins and faults (that would not be total acceptance), but with them. Though God does not condone or sanction evil, He does not withhold His love because there is evil in us!"
"Because of how we feel about ourselves, it's sometimes difficult to believe this!"
Manning says, "Thomas Merton said, "Surrender your poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers you and understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon! ... The reason we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with God is that we so seldom acknowledge our utter nothingness before him."
hmmm.... these quotes out of chapter one, have already hit close to home. I believe that we, okay I will speak for myself and say ~ I - struggle with loving myself at times, and sometimes have reduced my relationship with the Lord to a "formula" as Dr. Larry Crabb talked about in his books. (If I do A + B it will = C or I will do my part and God will do his part!) It has truly been over the past 21 months since we lost our little grandson, that I have really wrestled with a lot of stuff that before then I would only acknowledge briefly and push out of the way. A lot of stuff that has focused around loving myself, and I have come to see the insecurities that have been there all along - just slightly under the surface waiting to rear their ugly heads!!
I have experienced (through the brokenness, and vulnerability) great grace and healing. It has really been over the past year that I have worked hard on what I am experiencing, feeling, sitting with (so to speak) and walking through along this journey. The walk has not been a pretty one... but I have come to begin to trust Him more and more as a result.
I have seen areas of my life as a result, where things have surfaced like insecurity, self-worth, rejection... and see them for what they are (NOT God-given!) and for what they do to drag me down! It is no secret to people, that I have struggled with "loving myself" and yet have realized, believe and find it really necessary and important to tell other women how beautiful and precious they are in the eyes of God!
It has been a hard journey (incredibly hard) and well - continues to be. But it is changing along the way, and I am truly experiencing how much God loves me, and thinks I am beautiful, and valuable! Imagine that!! GOD THINKS I AM TOTALLY WORTH HIS SON GIVING HIS LIFE FOR!! and YOU ARE WORTH IT TOO!!
Manning tucks reference in there to the story of the Prodigal Son. Nothing like the story of the prodigal son, to bring you back to the reality of God's unwavering love for us!
Along this journey - I have often imagined myself "cozied up" on the lap of the Father!! With his arms around me - and feeling the beat of His heart. Just the picture of that itself - brings me such incredible sense of such great love! I am a child of the KING and yet sometimes I think I forget my identity as ABBA's CHILD! I figure its time to reclaim that!
I have come to see that when I feel the best about myself - about loving myself.... that happens in conjunction with how much time I spend with the Father! My relationship with the Lord is about feeling loved, feeling safe, and living in trust! And honestly, when I am feeling secure in His love - then there is nothing that will make me think otherwise about myself too! He wants me to feel loved, precious and beautiful .... and I do!
I am learning - day by day! It is a call to live in grace; to accept my brokenness, and realize that God redeems it for his honor and glory! (There is a reason we are referred to as clay!) It is a call to draw nearer and nearer to God, and fix our eyes on Him instead of on our own navels! It is a call to follow Him by laying down our lives and picking up the cross daily! It is a call to trust in the amazing love of our heavenly Father - our daddy, our ABBA.
In the preface to this new edition of Abba's Child, Manning writes about his "spiritual director" whose name is Larry Hein, and who wrote an original blessing and as well, a second blessing, which Manning does include in the book. I really like it - but man, it gives great food for thought. (Can I really say yes Lord, this is what I want for my blessing?) Here it is ~ what do you think when you read it?
*** going to go and do my jog/walk on the treadmill and think about all this. Figure it should last me the whole 40 minutes. Hope it makes you think too!