I was raised concealed by a blessed shelter of a God-driven family. I honor them for the foundation laid and for the way God used them in my life. From a young age, church was a constant, tales told by veggies taught me about Jesus-y things and nightly devotionals cultivated my sense of self, God and the rest of the world. But even amidst the best intentions and hope, pain and brokenness have a way of twisting good things out of shape. Growing up in the wake of divorce and navigating realities of relational tension, my Christian rearing morphed into a religious algorithm in my mind and heart: perform to gain God’s love.
For the last two years, God’s taken me on a journey. In the process of recovering from religion and rediscovering relationship, I’ve dug up tangles of roots feeding deceptions and lies about my Creator and Father. Through sweat and dirt, I’ve exposed three major inaccuracies that I believed about God. My reason for sharing is both simple and essential: relationship with God is better than you’ve quite possibly ever dared hoped. And if your experience is anything less than astounding, could it be you have similar distorted roots sucking Life from your soul garden?
1. God only knows the things about me that I tell Him.
Relationship at its fullest is to be fully known and fully loved - at its worst, to be fully known and unloved. Because performance played a vital role in my religious algorithm, it seemed reasonable that if I broke them, I ought to keep it in the shadows, rather than risking God’s love for me to wane. I used to sweep mistakes into the crawlspace of my mind, covering them with shame and secrecy. But when you smuggle a soul secret, you are only keeping it from others and yourself. Jesus came face-to-face with my heart on September 8, 2013 when I heard this truth: Jesus knows you. He knows your name, your heart - even the secret places you don’t even know, your thoughts and all your motivations — AND — He loves you. The Trinity knows you better than you know yourself and loves you infinitely! That truth turned me into a beautiful pool of holy tears that washed away the smudges of secrecy and fear.
Walking in freedom means welcoming in the utter vastness of being fully known. Being known means telling it all, not just that which you desire to disclose. It’s throwing open the curtains and allowing all the light to pour in. It means keeping nothing from our Father, knowing NOTHING can separate us from His love. Not the, “Ugh, I guess I will try and see past thing” sort of love. On the contrary, God’s love declares, “I see you. All of you. I know what potential I created your heart for and where I am taking you. And in through it all, I love you - like I always have, like I always will.” I now willingly hand over my murkiest and muckiest mistakes and motivations, knowing there is ONLY holy love waiting to receive me, as I receive Him.
2. I can earn more of God's love.
I’ve become accustomed to earning what I thought was love. You know why? Because it is effective in this quid pro quo, conditional world we live among. I craved the pat-on-the-head, good grades, kudos at work, compliment from a cute guy, kind of love. And the more I got, the more I wanted, the harder I worked. Once I knew that God could see all of me, I thought I was able to affect the amount of love I received based on the ‘good’ things I’d done. I worked to earn my keep in the Father’s heart. Like some how going to church, singing the songs, having ‘quiet time’ and reading my bible earned me more of God’s love than I had before.
Ya’ll - that is a LIE. Any love you have to earn, isn’t love at all! You know what the Father told me a couple weeks ago? Laying fetal position on my floor, Holy Spirit whispered, “You could stay here for the rest of your life and I’d love you just the same as I do now: infinitely.” Do you believe that?! All our work, hustle, accomplishing, pushing, striving and earning gets you NO MORE of infinite and eternal love because you already have it all in Jesus! There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God AND there is nothing you can do to earn more! Be free. Be loved.
3. God is constantly disappointed in me.
Performance in itself is a tightrope of control stretched across the abyss full of fear of rejection and disappointment. Weebling and wobbling across, I’d always get stuck in the middle with nothing to grab on to and no hope for balance. Raised up on self-imposed expectations, I believed God continually gave me that disappointed, aggravated look that testy dads give their children who stumble - yet again. I assumed that because I couldn’t meet even my own standards, there was no way I would ever please a holy and righteous God.
But that was a lie and now I walk in the Truth: God’s grace was a breath’s width away from the tightrope I walked on. I know now that I actually possess the bought-with-Jesus-Christ’s-life right to step down from my performance and control onto the unfaltering gift of grace lavishly poured out by my Father. Mistakes and criticism do not inhibit me from living fully and loving freely. My life is not hindered by coloring in the lines in avoidance of reprimand. In Christ, I have become the righteousness of God and it’s Christ who lives in me. I am right with my Creator. It takes control to walk across a tightrope but it takes grace to walk out His love in the world.
We are never told to control - we are commanded to love.
Over the last two years, God’s opened my eyes to see the falsehoods that kept me bound by fear. Through walking in relationship with Jesus, I experience the truth of the gospel more and more each day. I am awakened to life overflowing with freedom, delightful nuances, joy, mystery, forgiveness, hope provoking tension and intricate - yet simple - love.
And with that, I implore you to invite Holy Spirit to dig around in your own soul and uproot any lie you’ve believed. You are not worthless. You are not hopeless. You are not evil. You are not unwanted. You are not inadequate. You are not rejected. You are not stupid. You are not alone. His love is meant for you. It is infinite and you will receive as much as you choose to allow your heart to accept. You were meant for Him - just receive.
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