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.”
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,
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.