I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at Lansing Christian’s Mother Daughter Tea. When preparing, I decided that since I am not a mother or a daughter (surprise, surprise) I would write a letter for a daughter I might have someday that I could read at the event. The following words are not just for my future daughter, but also for these terrific young ladies who have so much ahead of them. Congratulations!
There are plenty of ways in which men and women aren’t all that different. When it comes to brokenness, I find that all people have more in common than we sometimes pretend. Though we often face different cultural demands, and combat distinct styles of social pressure, men and women alike are haunted by the same question. The question directing all decisions of what to buy, how to dress, how to talk and act and pretend, the question I’m asking as I try my hair one way then another, or as dress like this Monday and then like this on Tuesday, or even as I ponder future decisions of what to drive, where to live, what to do with my life; the unanswered question that shrewdly influences almost every single thing I do is this: WHO AM I?
I have the incurable tendency of going back to my insecurities day after day. Each morning I am inclined to crawl into my old skin of self-consciousness, self-centeredness, and even self-contempt. This fragility I know all too intimately manifest in different ways in different people. For some it means constant mirror checking, for others it looks like the frantic pursuit of success, others manage the hurt by going time and time again to others for confirmation, endorsement, validation of the lie that I have it all together, that I am what I appear to be. But the truth is, I am wounded. I am broken. I am looking for something and don’t know where to find it.
Oh but there is a remedy.
Do you remember the story of the Greek warrior Achilles? He was nearly invincible in battle. No one could scratch him from the hairs on the top of his head to the skin on the tips of his toes…except of course, for that vulnerable heel. This was his one shortcoming—the very weakness that led to his downfall when an arrow almost aimlessly struck him in just the right place. But do you remember why the heel was the weakness of Achilles? The story goes that when he was just a baby, Achilles’ mother, dipped her son into the magical River Styx to make him immortal. The only part of him that was not touched by the water was, of course, the heel by which his mother held him.
Daughter, I know of a river that makes old things new, that makes impossibly broken things whole again. There is a river that washes clean and restores life. This river is the love of God. Like Achilles, those whose hearts are bathed in the rush of this water will be strong, while those places in your life that go untouched by the powerful current will sprout weakness and insecurity. The most important thing I can say to you is this: immerse yourself in this river every day. Submerge, plunge, cannon ball into it so that every inch of your soul is dripping with God’s love for you. Soak in this love and it will become your identity. Soon it will well up and spill over, flowing through you making rivers in the wasteland of this broken world.
So never let it out of your sight. Take your coffee with it each morning. Christ’s perfect love drives out fear, it drives out jealousy, it drives out distrust, envy, vanity, judgmental thoughts, poor attitudes, self-absorbedness. Perfect love drives out impatience, gossip, the fear of what others think, doubts about God’s heart, terror of the past, worries of the future. There may be many locked doors in your heart, but God’s perfect “I love you” is the Master Key that unlocks them all and lets in the fresh air of freedom. God’s love is so effective, so powerful, so practical, and so incredibly applicable because it always addresses the heart, the deeper reasons behind our actions. Love changes everything. In fact, I have found that the extent to which I still sin is an exact measurement of the extent to which I have yet to receive God’s love.
Sin germinates in hearts that distrust God’s love. You see the first sin wasn’t eating a fruit in the garden of Eden, it was doubting the loving trustworthiness of God! The serpent’s whole victory was in distorting Eve’s perception of God’s heart. The same is true of the second sin. Yes, Cain murdered his brother Abel, but only after he’d been corrupted by jealousy because Abel had offered a better sacrifice. And why hadn’t Cain offered an acceptable sacrifice? Why did he hold back? Could it be that he didn’t trust the good heart of God? That he couldn’t offer God the best of his crops for fear that God’s provision wouldn’t be enough? Could it be that in his heart of hearts Cain refused to believe that God is love?
You see, the heart that trusts this love despite the Enemy’s attempt to sell you a lie, that heart will be made perfect in love and will have no room for evil. As one authors says, “Nothing you will ever do could make God love you more than he does right now: not greater achievement, not greater beauty, not wider recognition, not even greater levels of spirituality and obedience. Nothing you have ever done could make God love you any less: not any sin, not any failure, not any guilt, not any regret.”
My daughter, put plainly, you are stuck in the love of God. And though your disbelieving heart will sometimes contend that you are unlovable, and though you may, in low times, be so intimately aware of your shortcomings—things you’ve thought, things you’ve done, things you’ve been—you must remember that these evidences have been tossed from God’s courthouse, that the verdict has been decided and the jury is unanimous, the judge has already slammed the gavel and there will be no further argument: you are loved.
Clinging to this love will be your great strength. For out of the soil of God’s perfect love grows confidence, kindness, joy, true beauty, life, and all other good things.
I know who you are. God has given me the privilege of experiencing just a little bit of his heart for you. And you, my dear daughter, are loved.