(Part 3 of a Series)
I'm sorry it has taken me a while to get to this post. True, I've been busy, but it's been more than that. The timing just wasn't right, and I couldn't write this yet. I guess there was more of life I needed to experience first.
I needed the good cry that I had this morning.
It all started with sending my precious 10-year-old autistic son to camp this morning. It's not a "special needs" camp. All of the 5th and 6th graders are going. My husband is also going, just to help deal with some of the challenges that may arise for (or because of) our son. But I expect that Phillip will handle a lot on his own. He's fully mainstreamed with "Regular-Ed" kids, only receiving support services on the side.
So there went Phillip, climbing onto the bus with his luggage in tow. Away. Away for three days and two nights. Like all the other kids.
Like all the other kids!
Mostly I cried for gratitude at first. Gratitude to God for making this momentous occasion possible. When Phillip first began his descent into Autism right after his second birthday, everything seemed lost. I thought he had died and been replaced by a screaming stranger. There seemed to be no hope for my Phillip. No hope.
Now he's going to camp! He's going to camp! Thank You, LORD!
"Thank You" isn't nearly adequate, but my Lord sees my heart and my tears. He knows.
But there have been other tears today, too. Tears because I can see so clearly how badly and how often I've failed my children, my husband, and my Lord. And yet these tears don't hurt. They feel freeing, cleansing.
Because I'm abandoning the search for self-esteem, and replacing it with the desire for an ever-growing God-esteem.
That's the key, isn't it? God-esteem.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. (Ps. 112:1)
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. (Psa 5:11 )
And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (Jesus, in John 14:21)
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God (Rom 8:28)
whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)
The joy and peace that come from truly loving God runs far deeper than any pleasure self-esteem can give. Why? Because joy and peace are only as reliable as their sources. When God is my source, there is no limit to the joy and peace available to me. When I am my own source...well...need I say more?
There's also no risk of falling into self-deluding pride, if loving God becomes paramount. Tears of repentance over sin can flow freely, without any need to sugar-coat anything. I have no image to protect in His eyes. No false front to prop up. He sees all, He knows all. He loves anyway. And I can't help loving Him back.
And what of this God that I am learning to esteem? Is He not worthy? What does He do with this broken self that I present to Him? He accepts, He loves, He heals, He re-creates. He shows Himself more than enough not only for my needs, but also for the needs of the children and the husband whom I have so often failed. I can face the fact that I've failed them all, because I know that He never will.
The more I see of His perfections, the less I am discouraged by my imperfections.
But loving and esteeming God does not lead to a lackadaisical attitude about sin. It cannot!
You who love the LORD, hate evil! (Ps. 97:10)
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate. (Prov. 8:13)
Don't we want to be like the One we love? And don't we want to please Him? Love for God cannot wallow in sin. We flawed humans with our imperfect love can (and do) fall to temptation far too often. But it doesn't take long for the muck to start offending our senses. It doesn't take long to keenly feel the pain of separation from our Heavenly Father. We will arise and go back to Him, freely admitting to ourselves and to Him that we're covered in smelly goo, longing for His cleansing, and praying we won't fall again.
Self-esteem grabs a mirror and convinces itself that the goo isn't there. Or if the goo is there, self-esteem says, "I make it look good!" And it will get nasty and hateful toward anyone who doesn't agree with its flattering view of itself.
God-esteem protects us from wallowing. It brings us back, enables us to trust the One to whom we are returning, and gives us joy at being close to Him again. And it frees us to love others in the deepest way possible; the way that wants to share this beautiful God and His love with everyone, demanding no flattery from them in return.
God esteem is precious. Continuously cultivate it. Pray for it. Study the Word and yield to His Spirit until You can't help esteeming and loving Him more.
And pray for me that I will do the same. The Pride Monster has had his claws dug into me so deeply for so long that I know he won't give up without a fight. This morning's momentary, beautiful time of enjoying God will soon give way to soul-bloodying warfare that I can't win without His Spirit. I'll fall many times, but it will be so wonderful to go back to Him just as soon as possible.
God is all-satisfying!
(Photo from Stock.xchng by scol22)