In the fall of 1978, during a powerful worship service, I received a prophetic word from a visiting pastor.  Of course, he knew nothing about me, but the Holy Spirit used him to speak a truth I needed to hear.  Basically, he told me that God was going to help me love, accept, and respect myself.   He said “I have said something to you that is so important.  Don’t be embarrassed about it.  God is speaking this to you.  You can never like others or love others if you don’t like or love yourself, and you are going to develop this in your life.  You have got to deal with it, and you’ve got to allow the Holy Spirit to help you deal with it.  No one has whispered in my ear, no one has said a thing to me about you in any way; absolutely not.  This is straight from God.  Allow Him to create within you a love for yourself, a respect for yourself, and an admiration for yourself and your abilities.  Don’t compare yourself with anyone else, with any other relative or any other sister or anyone.  You are an individual particularly loved and liked by God.  God LOVES you.  God LOVES you with all of His heart.  He thinks you are really tremendous!   Allow God to take you as you are and use you for His Glory.  He is going to shine through you.  You just be you as Yeshua lives in you!  Amen.”  Ouch!  Even though I knew this was from the Holy Spirit, I felt extremely embarrassed, vulnerable and exposed.  It was very painful. 

Learning to love myself has been a long journey.  The Father led me to books and teachings of other people, who have also struggled with this very thing.  One of the most important truths I needed to grasp was the true identity of God my Father.  My perception of God was a big mean guy in the sky who punished me when I messed up.  Intellectually, I knew He was my Heavenly Father, but my heart didn’t see Him as a Father who really cared about me.  Because of abuse, feelings of abandonment, shame, and a strong, misplaced sense of responsibility to keep the world together, I was full of anger, resentment, and hatred for who I was and my life.  

On April 24, 1985, our baby boy, Joseph, died of SIDS at the age of three months. This devastating loss brought all these feelings to the boiling point.  I blamed myself for losing another baby bringing the total to three.  Not only was it my fault, but God must hate me so badly that He needed to keep punishing me.  For what, I don’t know?  The anguish inside of me was so intense, and I was so full of rage, the least little thing would send me into uncontrollable shakes.  I had watched my mother have a “nervous breakdown,” and I was sure I was heading in that direction. 

 One Sabbath morning, John said the wrong thing. I handed him our baby, a clean diaper and left the house.  I started walking not caring where I went, I just knew that I needed to go somewhere.  As I walked down the dirt road, homesickness for my Dad increased with every step.  In my mind, I kept thinking, I had just seen my Dad that morning, why am I missing him?  However, I had such a longing for my Dad to just hug me and tell me I was not losing my mind and that I was going to be okay. The emotion was so overwhelming, that I sat in the middle of the dirt road and sobbed uncontrollably.  

It was then I heard the Lord say to me, “It isn’t your dad that you are longing for, it is Me.  I am your Dad, I am your Papa.  You have the wrong concept of who I AM. I will show you who I really am.”  I felt His arms around me, and we sat there together in the dirt.  My concept of God started to change that very day.  I’ve been on a journey to know Him as my Father.  The more I got to know Him and love Him, the more I was able to see myself as He saw me.  I started to love me, and to accept my life.  I started on a path of forgiving myself, forgiving those who abused me, forgiving God for taking my babies, for not doing things the way I would have done them. 

In this season of change it may be time for you to take a new look at God as your Father.  I am so thankful that our Father loves us, has patience with us, and that His plans for our lives include a bright hope and future.  He delights in us and even sings over us.  As the one who created us, He loves us and has set us free to truly love ourselves.

  

Joie Conrad

BYNA Elder

 

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