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In the last couple of articles we've discussed some ideas that might have stretched us and challenged the way we see things. Why stop now? I think it's important to challenge ourselves to see differently. Perception can easily become reality. We are so often told to keep the focus off of us, today I want to do the opposite I want to make us to focus.
Full disclosure I am not a very introspective person, I very rarely spend time trying to sort through my internal goings on. I always try to keep the focus off of the area of lack and onto the source of provision. I might need to expand on that idea in another article but I will try to sum it up quickly. I love Jesus, my desire is to be like Him in love, word, and action. Instead of focusing on being less like me, I try to focus on being more like Him. It was a struggle to get to that place but I can tell you it was a battle worth fighting. In the process I learned to love myself. Here is some of that experience, my hope is that it will help you experience the freedom to love yourself and see how valuable you truly are!
I lived a pretty reckless lifestyle for the majority of my youth and adult life, I cared very little for myself or others and my decisions made that quite clear. As a result there was a lot of damage left in the wake of my choices. I didn't love myself and I had made it my personal mission to bring others down with me. What I felt internally exploded out to others. As time went on I sunk deeper and deeper into depression and isolation. I had no value, no self worth. It took me too some dark places, I was homicidal, suicidal, quite honestly I was a mess.
The first time I experienced the love of God, I was in a prison cafeteria. I was serving time, a 1-2 year sentence, for my 3rd DUI (drunk driving) arrest in 2 years. I had come to the end of myself, a failed suicide attempt prior to my trial and subsequent incarceration had left me with a nothing to lose attitude but here I sat at a Bible study in prison. To be completely honest I wasn't there by choice, a friend had bribed me into going with a honey bun. In prison honey buns are like gold bricks! So here I sat hearing the testimony of a man I had disqualified before he ever said a word. As he began to share every single word he said spoke directly into my situation. It was as if he read my case files or my criminal history.
Not only did he know my story but it was also his story. Up until this point I thought I was unique, as if nobody ever had been as bad off as I was. I was so wrong! Not only had this guy been through it all but he had overcome! I so desired to know how it was even possible. He gave me the answer, it was the love of Jesus! I didn't really know what that meant except in theory, I had been to church, heard the sermons, even went to an altar a couple times but this was different. I would never be the same.
That night I went back to my cell and prayed like I never knew was possible, I confessed everything I had ever done. I felt unburdened by my past, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Then began the journey to understand this love. I read stories of people in the Bible who had made bad choices, guys like David, Peter, and Paul. David really stuck out to me. He was a murderer and an adulterer but also a man after God's on heart! How was that even possible! David had experienced rejection, and isolation but he was also a giant slayer, he had experienced tremendous victories and agonizing defeats, how did he get through it all?
When I found the answer it changed everything, it was the radical, relentless love of God. David knew that his value wasn't found is his choices but in his Creator, he wasn't defined by his past, he was defined by his Father! I began to make David's story my story I began to make the Bible personal, proclaiming the love of God over myself and over my life! I proclaimed that I, with all my baggage and dysfunction, was fearfully and wonderfully made! I sought God and asked Him to make this a reality to me and to settle this in me so that my value would never be found in anything or anyone but Him and what He says about me!
God is faithful, He led me to victory in this area. He did it for me, He will do it for you! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! You are precious in His sight! When you grab a hold of this you will begin to truly love yourself and only then can you begin to truly love others!
I hope this article has been a blessing to you, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Anthony and his wife serve as pastors feeling called to focus on their local community and work in the drug and alcohol recovery and the inner city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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