God Wants Me to Be Happy
Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
I think I always struggled with my self-image. It was hard for me, growing up, not to compare myself with others. I always obsessed over the things I lacked in, focusing and emphasizing on my failures rather than my accomplishments. In my mind, I thought I had to stay humble, and to keep myself humble I told myself that I wasn't good enough for good things. Whenever I felt a little proud or encouraged, my immediate reaction was to tell myself that it's not a big deal. How could I see myself as anything worthwhile? It was God who made me who I am. For years I reminded myself over and over again that my life was insignificant.
At times I was so miserable, but I thought, “This is what it means to live as a Christian.” God calls me to suffer. God calls me to have hardships. Good things only distract me from God. So, in my misery, I convinced myself that this is the God I believed in. I started to get more and more hurt by Him. It was hard to trust Him in the little things, and my doubt in His love for me grew. I would run away from things I might want, and I would never let myself dream bigger than what was necessary. I restricted myself and set up walls around myself, so I could stay “humble” and only focus on God.
Because of my own set limitations, whenever others called me to do something out of my comfort zone I would refuse. Every blessing and new experience I received had to be dragged out of me.
This past few months I was preparing to apply to graduate schools. The vision I had for myself was so little. I only wanted to apply to schools I knew I could get into. One day I had to meet with my advisor to ask for a letter of recommendation. As she was reading over my credentials, she looked at me and said, “Why are you aiming so low?” I didn’t know what to say. She started to encourage me to apply to schools I wasn’t even thinking about. Because I really needed something from her, I decided to apply to four more schools upon her recommendation. I didn’t do much research in the schools because my assumption was that I wasn’t going to get in. I wasn’t planning to be the best speech pathologist, so why bother applying to such hard schools? I would apply because of my advisor, but I already knew where I belonged.
A couple weeks later, I had found out I’d gotten into almost all the schools she had asked me to apply to. I remember after reading the acceptance letters, I got on my knees and cried. I felt this huge sense of assurance come over me. As I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, God reminded me of His love. Even when I don’t believe in myself, God does. I built up so much resentment towards Him. I had thought that God wanted to make me into a cold and unfeeling Christian. I had been separating my “secular” blessings from my “spiritual” blessings and thought that God didn’t want me to enjoy the “secular” blessings. I honestly didn’t want to apply to these schools, because I was scared to feel rejected. I didn’t want God to give me proof of how I thought of myself. But seeing my acceptances that night made me realize the lies that I was telling myself. The confidence I was lacking was not in me, but it was in His love for me.
My problem was that I think I know what I deserve and what I don't. I like staying in this state of feeling bad for myself and demeaning myself, and I have this arrogance that I am so special that God's grace covers everyone besides me. God asks me to suffer because I don't deserve happiness, so instead I will choose to suffer. This way I wouldn’t have to find out what I deserve.
But as I read the Scripture from today, how He was pierced for my wrong doings, crushed for my sins, and by His wounds I am healed and have peace. So why do I doubt His love for me? If God loved me enough to die for my sins, doesn't He love me enough to want good for me? His love for me isn't to teach me a lesson, but it's just to love me. I can live a joyful and meaningful life because I have a God who loves me. He blesses me in my sufferings, and He blesses me in my happiness.
I am not above His grace, but I am under it. I am covered by it. And I get to live with it. Not because of who I think I am, but who God knows me as.