I invite you to read an encouraging message from Isunji for Women Walking with Jesus.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22: 37-39 – NIV) [Bold italics are mine]
As the saying goes, “if I’ve read this verse once, I’ve read it a thousand times.” Not only have I read it repeatedly, but I focused on the same portion each time, loving my neighbor. It’s one of those familiar scriptures you can sometimes read on autopilot, so it’s easy to skip over the “as yourself” part. Skipping over it, however, is a mistake. As women, daughters of the Most High, it’s important that we learn to see ourselves the way God sees us. It’s the only way to truly love our neighbor.
In all honesty we women can be our own worst critics. We take the blame for relationships not working out. We take the blame for our children going astray. We set impossibly high standards for ourselves, or we buy into the impossible standards society dictates, then we beat ourselves up when we don’t meet up to them.
Case in point, I had a conversation with one of my best friends the other day where I confessed to her that I feel like a fraud sometimes. Like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, I feel like I should be the one saying, ‘pay no attention to the (wo)man behind the curtain!’ The perception that others often have of me can be intimidating particularly when I know how far from perfect I am.
When those moments come; the moments when I’m halfway through the workday before I realize I haven’t read my devotional yet, or when I roll my eyes when my boss wants to make yet another change to the project I’m working on; the negative thoughts rush in. Thoughts like, “Mmm Hmm… and you’re supposed to be a Christian.” “Girl, what would your readers think if they could see you now?” In the past I would just accept those thoughts, hang my head, tuck my tail between my legs and vow to do better the next day. Ah, but those days are coming to an end. You see, I read 2 Corinthians 10: 4-5 which says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV) [Bold italics are mine]
The more I thought about what it meant to ‘take captive every thought,’ the clearer it started to become. It dawned on me that I don’t have to accept every thought that makes its way into my head, especially when those thoughts are contrary to what God says about me. Instead of rehearsing my mistakes, I have started to rehearse the Word of God concerning me. For every negative thought that comes, I try to have a scripture ready to combat it, and can I just tell you that it really works!
I guess it’s easy to forget that we are in a war, not against other people or even against ourselves. The fight is to hold on to, to believe, God’s word concerning us. Arming myself with the Word has strengthened my relationship with God and allowed me to see myself through His eyes. I know that in spite of my imperfections, the Creator of the universe is crazy about me. He loves me warts and all! He loves YOU. Yes even after you shot a nasty look at the driver that cut you off this morning; even though you were short with your husband last night for no good reason. He loves you, He loves you, He loves you! If God deems us worthy of loving, who are we not to love ourselves? When we know that we are loved unconditionally, and we learn to love ourselves unconditionally, we are free to live out the “love your neighbor” part of Matthew 22. Wow!
Ok, so is it just me or does anyone else sense the freedom in this? I feel like shouting!!
Isunji Cardoso started writing when she was just 8 years old. Her third grade teacher asked the class to write an original story. Her story was a hit with the class, and a writer was born! Isunji describes herself a a word-nerd who believes in the power of a good story to touch hearts, educate minds, lift spirits and even change the world. The Lord has given her many stories that she hopes to release to the world as He leads. In February 2013 Isunji published her first book, a devotional called Faith Lifts: 31 Daily Boosts for Sagging Faith which is now available for purchase. The book is designed to encourage, inspire, entertain, and, most importantly, to refresh the weary spirit. Please connect with Isunji on Twitter or Facebook.com/isunjicardoso2