I was standing there, looking in the mirror. Maybe you other mamas can relate, but in that moment, I was overwhelmed as I saw all of my flaws – my belly, that not so long ago was rounded out and twice quite literally bursting with life, now just there and sort of limp. My teeth, several shades darker than they should be from too much coffee to get through the days. My dark circles from sleepless nights seemed to take over my face, fighting with the postpartum acne and bald spots for who wins the award for most awful. Standing there, I had convinced my heart that other people only saw my flaws as well and that I don’t have anything valuable to add until I “get myself together”.
That’s when my husband walked in and I burst into tears as he saw me this way. How could he love such a mess? He said something to the effect of, if I wanted to see the flaws then that was all I would see. I stopped then and did what I should have done first; prayed about it. As I showered and prayed, God opened my eyes and my heart to some truths that ran much deeper than the mess on my face or my stretch marks. Don’t I sometimes also believe that those thoughts are the truth about how God feels about me? That I’m not worth it until I “get myself together”? That I have to be clean and pretty and blemish-less before I come before Him?
God just seemed to whisper to my heart right then and there, “I loved you before you were lovely.”
Before I could do anything at all, He chose me. Before I could clean myself up or do good things or be “good”, He chose me. Just like my husband sees only his wife of nearly 9 years and the mother of his children when he sees me, and doesn’t see my acne or stretch marks, God sees His Son Jesus when He looks at me, and not the ugly scars or stains of my sin. The blood of Jesus has made me lovely in His sight, and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
It hit me then in a fresh way that it is also so true that if I am so focused on what I see in the mirror, I am not looking outward, which is what we are called as believers to do. If I’m so caught up in what I look like (or don’t look like!), how I feel, or what I perceive my flaws to be, then I am not using that energy or focus to see and serve others in the love of Christ, which is what I have been called to do. If I’m lacking personal confidence because I am so tied up in knots about who I appear to be, then I am also lacking the boldness to step out in love and believe that it is Christ who carries me and uses me.
This is the same with my spirit – If I am so strong in my belief that I need to wait to be better or to be “good enough” to serve, then I won’t step out the way I am called to. I was reading the other day about how Gideon was called, in a situation where he felt seriously unqualified, to step out in the strength he had and bring victory to Israel, and God used that amazing moment to show up in a big way and remind Gideon, and us all, that He is the one who carries us and is our strength and ability. (read the amazing story in Judges 6!)
God covers our weaknesses – He doesn’t want us to sit on our hands and wait until we feel like we are strong enough. He wants us to step out, just as we are, and allow Him to work and do in His strength and power. The enemy would love nothing more than to have us right where I was in front of the mirror last week – completely absorbed in ourselves, crippled by what we see as our flaws, not committed to walking in godly confidence or stepping out in faith. He knows just how to get to us to render us useless – if he keeps us weak and broken and tied up in knots of self doubt, what kind of kingdom work can we possibly do??
Go in the strength you have. Walk with confidence that God has called and equipped you and will be your strength and portion, no matter how many flaws you see. You were loved, and appointed to your calling, before you were lovely.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.Psalm 73:26