Thursday, January 7, 2016

a lesson from the ugly duckling

When I was nine years old, my dad told me I was going to be the ugliest of my four sisters. "But don't worry about that, Sarah," he said, "you'll have a great personality."

Thanks, Dad. That's all a nine-year-old could ever wish for: a great personality.

If you know my dad, you know that he didn't say it to hurt me. He was sharing an observation, be it as blatant as it was. What he didn't know was that that single exchange changed the course of my life:

    How I saw myself.
    What I thought of myself.
    The person I would become.

That single conversation at such a vulnerable season in life planted a dark seed that embedded itself and grew in my heart1. Dad said that I wasn't gonna be pretty. But I heard that I wasn't ever gonna be good enough. I heard that I was gonna be the last pick for the rest of my life.

To top it off, it seemed that other people agreed with him. My heart hit lower than rock bottom. Believing your future looks that dismal kinda crushes you when you're nine.

It was only natural, then, to take some precautions. If no one was gonna look out for the ugly duckling, she was gonna have to look out for herself.

So nearly everything I did for the next thirteen years was a competition. I wanted to be the best I could be--so well-rounded I made circles look bad. I didn't want to just shine, I wanted to blind people so that the only thing they could see was how well I swam and not that I was an ugly duckling.

I didn't do well--I did great. I was good at being perfect.

And then I got married (oh, all of the stories that can start that way!). I married my husband thinking I had married the person I had been waiting for all my life: my knight in shining armor. Someone who noticed me. Someone who picked me first. Someone who would fight for me.

But he didn't live up to those standards (newsflash: husbands are human). That realization crushed me. My heart couldn't handle my husband in my life if he was just another person against whom I had to defend myself. He was supposed to protect me, not himself.

The truth was, I was so tired of sticking up for myself. I didn't want to fight any more battles. I just wanted to win that someone who would cherish this ugly duckling as if she was the swan princess herself.

If, like me, you've been hurt along the way and grown calloused to the truth, let this reminder be for the both of us: Jesus wants to fight for you. More than that: Jesus will fight for you.

If we surrender whatever our problem is to Jesus right now, He will take care of it for us.

There's nothing to prove but that God loves us--and that won't happen until we let Him love us--which means letting down our defenses and trusting that if we stop trying to win on our own, Jesus will carry us.
God won't prove He loves you until you let Him love you. [tweet]
"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you." 2 Chronicles 20:17

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

with much love,

1 It truly was horrible timing: adolescent development is such a fragile stage of growth. Comments referring to physical appearance are especially hurtful during this time of crazy bodily changes. Plant seeds of life during this hormone-infested time.