For many years, through school and teenage years, I felt there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I thought I needed to be someone different in order to be loved and accepted. I felt that I had to change myself - my personality, my temperament, my perceptions, my thinking, my actions - or no one would ever really want to be with me. I always felt slightly gauche, uncertain of all the unspoken social rules. Uncertain of what was expected of me and whether I could ever fulfil it.
I needed to grow a lot to come to terms with who I am.
But most importantly, I needed to know God.
Yes, there was one thing fundamentally wrong with me, but it did not have anything to do with what other people expected and wanted from me. The real, fundamental problem was sin, i.e. estrangement from God.
You see: God knows us. Each and every one of us. And He loves, loves, loves us. Even when I mess up, He does not expect me to make myself better so that I would be worthy of His love. His love does not fail when I fail.
I did not know or understand that love. I was estranged from Him. Sin.
God did all that had to be done so that I could be reconciled to Him. He wanted me to know His love and live it. He did what was needed to clear away my sin, so that I could learn to know Him.
It's been a slow process for that love to really sink in, from head knowledge to the deepest parts of my heart, and the process is still ongoing. It's amazing to me that Jesus really did suffer and die for me. He considered me worthy of His love even before I came to know Him.
Now, if and when there is any positive change in me - in my thinking, my habits, my actions, my speech - the love of God is the real source and motivation of those changes. God has redeemed me, forgiven me, and made me free to live a new kind of life.
New life in God means not fearing whether people will accept or reject me. It means that God is my ultimate source of acceptance and love. I need God's love to fill me, so I can live that love in relation to others, too.
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.
God is love, and the one who abides in love
abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4: 16,19
Of course I fail many times. The old selfishness does not die easily. Fails and falls teach me humility. I cannot change myself, no matter how hard I resolve.
That's where God's grace comes in.
Grace is the strength for walking in the light and not hiding it when I fail.
By the grace of God, I can accept myself and see what He created me to be.
By the grace of God, I can also obey God, just as I am.
I don't need to become someone else for Him. He wants me to be myself in His presence.
And when I am in His presence, His love changes whatever needs to be changed in me.
The good comes from Him. His strength. His Spirit.
All I need is to walk with HIM.
That's how I am myself, and yet a new creature.