For most of my life, I’ve felt just a tad less normal than most people. Less put together. Way needier. A huge disappointment. Less capable of taking care of myself. Not a grown-up. Weak. Lazy. Pretty much a screw-up.

As if every day, at the end of my day, I could do a mental walk-through of how I handled myself and I would for sure have people to apologize to, words to take back, choices I shouldn’t have made.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  To everyone, every day.

Basically, that I’m living life wrong. That everyone knows how to live life except me.

I have no idea really if anyone else feels this way. But it sure as heck has plagued me. I wear less-than-you around my neck like an invisible label.

My best guess as to why I feel this way is having a few really difficult things thought about me, implied to me, said to me.

You are insane. You are an ass. You are a lying moron. You are out of your mind.
Why do you care if I’m disappointed in you??
You should be stronger. I guess I’m just stronger than you.
Why aren’t you living your life this way that is clearly better as opposed to the way you are currently living it, which is lame and such?

It’s hard to shake, what others think about you, imply to you, say to you.  (Why do the mean words cut deeper, leave a longer-lasting impression than the good words?? I hate that.)

But a few years ago, my former pastor was talking about the ways Jesus was tempted in the desert by satan and something stirred in me.

The first time being when satan told Jesus to turn stones into bread. My pastor equated that temptation with one we face every day: the lure to identify who we are by what we can do.

Ugh. Been there. (Still there.) For instance, I don’t have a “real” job. Because I don’t leave my house and drive to an office building, what I do doesn’t count as work.  Because it’s not a huge money-maker, what I do doesn’t count as work. Therefore, I don’t work. And I’m lazy.

Another temptation was when satan taunted Jesus to jump off the top of the temple saying that angels would surely catch him, showing everyone how powerful he is. This mirrors our enticement: caring too much what others think about us.

Lord, have mercy. I LIVE in this place. You tell me who I am and I will drink it up whole. You say I’m weak and I’m weak. You say I make poor choices and I agree with you (even if they were thought-through, prayed-through choices) and I apologize over and over and over and I belittle myself again and again and again, and I carry deep, deep shame for a very long time. 

But Jesus didn’t respond to his tempter with acquiescence. He didn’t bow down, cower under those words. He stood up to him.

And, why didn’t he? Because Jesus knew who he was.

Because before he was sent into the desert, he had an encounter with his Father. His cousin John baptized him, and he heard these words coming down from the sky:

               This is my beloved Son, who brings me great joy and delight!

Jesus had just been told by the Father that he was the Beloved. He had nothing to prove to anyone. And so he went out and lived his life, free and free and free.

And the good news is that our Father says this over us today too.

I need to press pause here for a rant because even as I’m writing and self-flogging and sitting with all of these characterizations over me, you know what I’m realizing??  I AM weak. And I am proclaiming from the mountaintops that I DO NEED GOD. I need Him as my Friend, my 1st Love, my Savior, my Counselor, my Comforter, my Heavenly Father. And if that makes me less-than in anyone’s eyes, so be it. And yet, opposite but equal rant: I AM strong. I have been through too much, withstood too much, let go of too much, risen above too much to not acknowledge the strength that God has brought about in me. Which points me back to this truth: I need unashamedly God.

Listen, I don’t know what other people think of you. Your husband, your ex-, your parents, your children, your co-workers, your fellow church-goers, your whoevers…

But we KNOW what our Heavenly Father thinks of us: WE ARE THE BELOVED.


When you feel loved – truly loved – you can fly. You can look your accuser, your bully, your enemy in the figurative eye and you can take the emotional beating and you can move on. (Caveat: if you are in ANY kind of relationship where you are hurt more than anything good, SET BOUNDARIES. Walls around your heart are allowed to go up.)

Today, you might be wearing an invisible label around your neck. You may have had some characterizations affixed to you when you were a little girl, a teenager, a vulnerable wife, a judged divorcee, just a human living her life, and you cannot shake them loose.

I know, I get it. And I am so very sorry for the pain you have been carrying.

I was sharing something with a friend about a person in my life who has hurt me, and she said, “It breaks my heart how afraid you are of this person. It’s not supposed to be like that.”

We can live fearlessly. We can ask GOD to tell us who we are. We do not have to take on other people’s words – who, by the way, are SIMPLE HUMANS JUST LIKE US! (They may act like they have it all together, like they know all the answers, but there is no one human more anything than another.)

No one but God declares who you are, my dear. And this is what he says:

If you know Jesus, you are a child of God. (John 1:12)
You are a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)
You have been given a spirit of love and power and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)
You have been justified and redeemed. (Romans 3:24)
You are no longer condemned. (Romans 8:1)
You are accepted by God. (Romans 15:7)
You are a new creation. (II Corinthians 5:17)
You have been set free. (Galatians 5:1)
You are precious and honored in his sight and YOU ARE LOVED. (Isaiah 43:4)

Today, I want to encourage you to choose one of the above verses and memorize it to counteract the pain.

Because, girl, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved. And you have not one thing to prove to any single person in the world. You are loved and you are free.


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