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Created by God… For God, Part 2

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Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:14-15, NIV).

Friend to Friend

But Mama did not say a word. And the look in her eyes told me that she was not happy. Evidently, Robert had not measured up to whatever obsolete standard she had in mind. When I asked her what she thought of him, she smiled and said nothing. Nothing? Nothing! How could she not see what was so very obvious to me – that Robert was absolutely flawless and we were going to be so happy. Together we would change the world!

I would show her.

I would pray about it and let God deal with Mama.

I started praying about my relationship with Robert and off-handedly tossed out a prayer asking God to close the door if Robert was not the right one for me. Never in a million years did I expect God to do that. But He did. With a resounding crash, God slammed that door shut, locked it and totally obliterated my perfect life plan. What in the world was going on? It made no sense – to me.

Before that summer mission trip when Robert and I met, he dated a girl for several years. He assured me their relationship was over and I believed him – until she came to town and I never saw him again. No, I am not kidding. Have not laid eyes on the boy since that day.

I was crushed. I had been so sure. I poured out my heart to Mama who listened quietly until I ran out of words and tears. She then took my face in her precious hands and simply said, “The first time I met Robert I knew he was all wrong for you.” What in the world was she talking about? I could not believe my ears. I stared at her in stunned silence.

Sensing and seizing a rare teachable moment in her not-so-teachable daughter’s heart, she went on. “The truth is that he is not good enough for you.” I chalked those words up to one of those things a mama is supposed to say to her daughter who has just been dumped by the most amazing catch of the century. Mama saw the doubt in my eyes and said, “Honey, if I could buy that boy for what he’s really worth, and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth, I would be a millionaire!”

I can count on both hands – with fingers left over – the number of times I ever heard Mama say an unkind word. But she evidently felt the occasion warranted her brutally honest opinion. With the proficiency of a seasoned lawyer, Mama began to skillfully and accurately lay out her case against Robert. I was in the presence of greatness.

“Honey, he had a spirit of pride about him. He led you on while keeping in touch with an old girlfriend. He lied to you. He took you to a movie that was so raunchy that you got up and walked out while he stayed and watched it (Sad, but true.) And then had the nerve to stand in a pulpit the very next day and preach the Word of God. Yes, he is handsome and charming, but inside – he is not a true man of God right now. He may be some day, but he surely isn’t yet. And you deserve better.” She was right. I did. I just didn’t believe it.

I worked hard at presenting the right image. I wanted people to see me as a confident, spiritually have-it-all-together kind of person, but the truth was that I had spent my whole life struggling to believe God really loved me – just like I was. I could not see myself like He saw me – chosen, loved, planned and wanted. I could not grasp the truth that I was created by God – for God. To think that God wanted an intimate relationship with me outside of my good works was totally beyond my comprehension. So when someone like Robert came into my life, he immediately became the living proof I so desperately craved – proof that I was worth something. Guys like him didn’t look at girls like me. I was certainly not beautiful. I was overweight and insecure. I was simply not good enough. I had allowed the sin of inferiority to rule my life.

Pride and inferiority are the opposite sides of the same coin of preoccupation with self. And both are sin. I have spent so many years, so much time and bucket loads of energy trying to be good enough. I followed all of the rules, hoping to please the Ruler. I said and did all he right things in front of all the right people in a desperate attempt to persuade them that I was right. I spent a lot of years accumulating the perfect mask for every situation.

And talk about irons in the fire – had ‘em by the dozen – all shapes, sizes and colors. If I did good things, I must be good. Right?

The bottom line is that I was running the race of life for the wrong audience until God shut the door, turned off the lights and said, “Daughter, that is enough.” And then I spent two years in a deep, dark pit of clinical depression where I learned what it really means to rest in the Lord. I learned how to simply be instead of frantically doing.

For the first time in my life, I came completely clean with God. I abandoned myself to Him – and He was there – never condemning me – and always loving me. For the first time in my life, I was set free from my own human and very confining expectancies as well as the lifeless expectations of others. They were not my audience. God was. And His heart was for me. I swear I could almost see Him grab those heavenly pom-poms when I quietly turned to Him, leaving a world of hurt behind. And His smile – His smile dried every tear and healed every hurt. I no longer needed a relationship with any human to prove my worth. The only relationship that mattered was with the One who made me worthy – my Father- my God.

I think Mama learned a lot of these truths through the many difficult years of her life. She knew. And she also knew I would have to come to those truths the same way she had – the hard way. It was worth it.

I learned that God loves me – period – just as I am – warts and all.

I learned that absolutely no one could take my place in the Father’s heart.

I learned that I am indispensable to no one but God.

I learned that I am not an accident – even though I was not planned by human heart or mind.

I learned that I was created in response to God’s special and unique plan for my life.

I learned that God is crazy about me – no matter what I do or don’t do.

For so long, I had looked for worth in the eyes of people the world deemed worthy instead of finding my worth in God alone. No more. Mama saw me – just as I was – precious in her eyes and in the eyes of God. And she loved me.

Psalm 139:14-15  (NIV) “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

There was not an ounce of pride in my Mama’s heart and life. I never saw her put her own needs above the needs of others – not once. She was a humble and precious woman who loved God, cherished her family and knew how to be a true friend until the day she died. Maybe that’s why she could so easily spot pride. It was a foreign language that she simply could not and would not speak. I want to live my life the same way.

By the way, the first time Mama met my husband, Dan Southerland, she looked him dead in the eyes and measured every inch of his gorgeous self. Mama then smiled and softly said, “Take good care of my daughter.”

Let’s Pray

Father, I praise You because I am made in Your image. Please help me live my life on the basis of that truth and not on the lies of the world. Thank You for a mother who loved me in such a beautiful way and modeled the very definition of humility. Help me to honor You like she did.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Here is your assignment for the week. Read Psalm 139 at least one time every day. In your journal, write each verse in your own words. At the end of the week, set aside time to celebrate who you are in Christ. Have a praise party – just you and God – or invite a few girlfriends to join you in celebrating how special you are to Him.

More from the Girlfriends

A daily time alone with God in prayer and Bible study will strengthen you to face whatever life throws at you. Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible study, Light for the Journey, for practical ways to tap into the power of God’s Word. The first study of 2013 is Power Up With Proverbs and begins January 14.

FREE MP3s on Mary’s website in the Freebies Section!

Do you or someone you love struggle with depression? Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression,offers practical steps you can take to get out and stay out of that pit. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

15 Responses

  1. Esther says:

    Thanks for sharing. This was a blessing to me right now. Praise God.

  2. Monique Clarke says:

    Mrs.Southerland,
    Your words touched my heart to it’s very core . Thank you for being so transparent & real . I too am in a place of finally realizing my worth in God & that I can’t change anyone but myself . Thank you for giving me a boost of confidence to believe that God see’s me & know’s me by my name (I’m not alone) .. I’m praying to be in relationship’s that only bring out the best in me & vs.versa.. I appreciate you sharing a piece of your heart with the us ( your faithful reader’s) …

    Thank you ,

    Monique

  3. TL says:

    Thank you for this devotion. It is just where I am at with my daughter, and you spoke to my heart.

  4. Jackie C. says:

    Hello GIG’s,

    I just wanted to say how helpful and inspirational your daily devotionals are and to comment on Mary Southerland’s “Created by God…For God devotional.

    I wish I understood when I was 20 yrs. old how important choosing a life partner was. Being in love with a person you think you want to spend the rest of your life with is not always enough. My husband and I were only 20 years old when we got married to each other but neither of us realized at the time we were not right for each other. We still are together after 28 years of marriage and have three beautiful children we love very much but our marriage has corroided over the years and there is no love between us anymore. I wish I had listened to God showing me all the signs when we were engaged that this man was not right for me. Though I have been a devoted, faithful wife and mother all these years, it saddens me that I am almost 50 and have never really known true love. If I had listened to God and the people around me more back then telling me I was too young to get married I may have been in a better Godly marriage. If I had been more patient I may have found a husband who treats me with respect and love and not verbal abuse, telling me everyday how imperfect I am. But I am created by God and God loves me the way I am. God sees and knows how I’ve been treated by my husband all these years.
    I have a daugther who is 20 now and dating a respectful young man. My hope for her is if and when she is ready for a marital commitment that she chooses her spouse wisely and listens to God before she walks down the aisle.

    Thank you to all the GIG for sharing your stories and inspirations.
    God Bless.

  5. juliet roimen says:

    Hey GIG, Thank you and may our Lord Jesus bless you. Am inspired. Its been hard for me to see my worth. Am trying to live a happy life and have the peace of Jesus everyday. I have been depressed and psychologically abused from a previous relationship. I knew God didn’t want me in it but i ask him to transform my then boyfriend instead. Am glad that his will has been done in me and i choose to wait for him. To cast my low self esteem away and live like his child. Be blessed

  6. Mayeila says:

    It’s interesting how the Lord led me to this very devotion at this point in time. God is really a perfect God and he confirms any word that he sends to you. Your devotion completely covered the lesson God has been trying to teach me. I’ve been a bit hard of hearing. Reading this devotion has totally removed the blinders from my eyes. I’m in tears and I can finally accept the truths that the voice of God is telling me. Thank you. For being an inspiration. For being a vessel of love and hope.

    • mary mary says:

      Mayeila, thank you for your email. We are all hard of hearing form time to time. So glad you heard Him speak today. Blessings.

  7. Tracy says:

    Thank you! I too have been stubborn and it is a daily challenge to wait on Gods will. I do believe in His ultimate plan though. Thank you for sharing your path to letting go and letting God have his way. When we do, the outcome is awesome! I pray to be more in tune and responsive to His divine will.

  8. Miriam says:

    My heart is practically doing summer saults of joy!!!!!
    God bless you Mary.
    Surely God works out all things good for those who love him,those who have been called according to his purpose.

  9. Susan says:

    My story is very similar to yours. I finally lost it – I unraveled. But that’s when God released me and gave me His freedom. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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