I thought everything in my life was trucking along just fine. I thought I was OK –until that was a recurring issue in my life had me heading into freefall and my world was turned upside down. Crying before God I asked “Will I ever be free, truly free? Am I inherently evil that I struggle like this?” Straightaway the following passage of scripture was quickened to me: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
No, I responded! love can only be earned if I do the right things, never fail and perform well. (See the problem there?) “Do not strive” God replied gently and still my soul railed “No, I must start achieving, do some courses, make my mark and validate my existence”
A memory flashed into my thoughts. I was aged 7 lying in my bed one night when I was overwhelmed by a sense of evil in the room, an evil so intense I could not breathe. I prayed for the first time, “God, place 4 Angels in each corner of my room to protect me”.
I saw those huge Angels, handsome with amazing feathers on their wings. Each with long, glinting swords which radiated light in the darkness. Even at 7 I was aware that a battle was taking place between good and evil. Light filled the room and evil was driven back.
When I shared this my husband challenged me – “Do you remember what was happening in your life when you were 7?” It had never crossed my mind so I asked God if He would show me. As I waited on God for that answer, I asked Him why I struggle with performance orientation; why I am so driven. God amazed me by swiftly answering both my questions.
Aged 7 my Dad became irritated that I was not ‘doing enough’ or earning my keep. He wanted me to spend more hours on the farm helping out. In my little girl’s heart, I resolved to earn my Father’s love by working harder. With tears in my eyes, I remember writing in my diary “I am not enough, I must do better and work harder” I started to perform to earn love and worth.
I also developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which lasted over 30 years before God set me free. It began as I cleaned my bedroom in a certain way each week. I’d start with the window sill and the skirting boards, then clear out and organise each cupboard, every drawer and every book on my shelf until everything was perfect.
Worth was found in being orderly and until my tasks were accomplished to a certain standard I would hold of going out of having fun. Fun had to be earned.
Healing of my OCD was progressive and deep, but performance orientation remained. I kept feeling I was not enough and had to work harder. Striving, striving, striving. Yet I was craving love which I could not seem to find anywhere.
At night I’d go to bed troubled with these thoughts of not being enough, that I was not lovable as just ‘me’. I believed God and man expected so much of me and was aware I was seeing God as I did my earthly Father. The Holy Spirit gave me a key in a revelation – He showed me how as a 7-year-old girl I had made an inner vow stating that in order to earn love I must work harder.
God led me to break that inner vow for it had reaped an unholy harvest in my life – the Performance Orientation and the belief that love was conditional. I repented for believing lies that I was not enough. I forgave my lovely Dad, who was only busy with much work on the farm at the time. God showed me that Jesus’ death on the Cross, was pure love and because of what He had done I was enough - whether I did anything or not, whether I failed or succeeded. His love was not conditional. My worth was not based on how good or bad I was.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
The cry of my heart for so many years has been “Somebody please love me – just as me”. When my Dad died in 2013, it was one of the first cries of my heart, for now, my Dad could never affirm me, I could not earn his love – he was gone. And I started looking for love and attention in all the wrong places, reaping more and more from that inner vow.
But even this message isn’t all tied up and neatly finished, for now I must learn to replace my thinking and allow God to pull down the ‘structures’ of behaviour I’ve had for many years. I am a work in process, no drive thru breakthrough here, it’s a journey of broken-ness and truth – but I know I am on the way to true freedom.
And I know that while I am a work in process, often only seeing the mess, He sees the end. And He will complete what He’s begun in me; like a master artist, He’ll keep putting His finishing touches on the canvas of my life until I can see the glorious work He’s done.
Where do you need to embrace being a work in process and rest in His faithfulness to bring wholeness?
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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