Not good enough syndrome

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!”  Psalm 139:13-14

cave near body of water at sunset
Photo by Jeff Nissen on Pexels.com

Do you struggle with self worth?  Do you tell yourself you aren’t good enough?  May be you tell yourself you aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, or worthy enough?

Many of us suffer from the “not good enough” syndrome.  In most cases, we don’t see our worth and value but everyone around us does.

Were you ever caught off guard when someone told you that you had a beautiful smile and were beautiful?  May be someone complimented you on a project you completed that you didn’t think was done well?  May be in your weakness, someone saw your strength and endurance prevail and you were awestruck by their comment on how strong you are?

Sadly, we are the hardest on ourselves.  We are often our own worst enemy.  We find it hard to love ourselves, feel deserving of love, and worthy.  Yet our hearts desire love.  We were made for love, made to receive and to give love.  Why is it so difficult to love ourselves?  Why is it difficult to see ourselves as God sees us, “wonderfully made”?

I have suffered greatly with self worth and acceptance.  Growing up, I had low self esteem.  I would rather be hidden, blended into the background, than draw attention to myself.  My family often told me I was pretty.  I never believed them.  I didn’t feel pretty.  I didn’t think I was.  I just thought they told me that because they were my family.  As I became an adult, this low self esteem expanded like a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber.  If you haven’t seen a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber, as you pull vacuum on the chamber, the air bubbles trapped in the marshmallow have a higher pressure than the surrounding chamber and the pressure of the air causes the marshmallow to expand and it gets really big.  This expansion of low self esteem became very evident in my marriage.

In my marriage, my self worth was the size of a tiny seed.  I never felt beautiful, never felt I could do anything right. It wasn’t until after my separation that I began to find myself and my self worth. It was my faith that pointed me in the right direction, the direction to my heart, centered on a God who loves me.

I won’t say that I still don’t go back to the “not good enough” syndrome, because I do. Today, that often hits me when it come to my role as a mother and sometimes even the things I think God is calling me to do. Fear is not good enough’s best friend. Both keep you from being the person God created you to be. Both place you in a cave and fill your mind with lies.

Are you going to let the lies convince you, you aren’t good enough? Are you going to turn off the vacuum chamber and shrink the marshmallow called “not good enough” into a small speck? Are you going to tell yourself, you are “wonderfully made”? And lastly, are you going to thank God for the wonderful work you are?

What walls obstruct your view of God?

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you…. Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you…. Fear not, for I am with you;”. Isaiah 43:1-7

stones wall
Photo by 500photos.com on Pexels.com

Who is God for you? How does God see you? Is God a loving, tender and forgiving Father? Or is He a tyrant, task master, and disciplining Father? Do you think God sees you as a beautiful child of His, wonderfully made, faults and all? Or do you think God sees you as a constant screw up, someone He is ashamed to call His?

Our experiences in earthly relationships sometimes dictate who God is to us and how we think God sees us. If you have bad experiences with earthly relationships, it can have a negative impact on your relationship with God. You may build walls that prevent you from growing in a deeper, more intimate, loving relationship with Him. You may have walls of judgement, lack of trust, inability to feel loved, shame, failure and the list goes on. Each of these separates your ability to experience the greatest love of your Heavenly Father.

Walk through this journey with me. Each day, you get up, go to work or may be you stay at home doing daily tasks.  Your day ends, you go home, rest and get up the next day and do everything over again.  Simple, nothing extraordinary or bad happens and life goes on.  One day, you wake up and the day is different, life suddenly becomes complicated and it feels like you are caught in a raging river and are drowning.  You reach up and feel a hand holding on to you.  It is God holding you because He will not allow you to be “swept away”.  As your life spins out of control, this trial you are suffering through feels like you are being consumed by a blazing fire.  Suddenly, you feel an immense feeling of peace, a warmth in your heart you never have felt before.  As you suffer in this heated moment, you are being purified just as the impurities of gold are separated from its surface in extremely hot temperatures.  God is purifying you into the precious gem he formed you to be and you can feel the transformation.

As you are emerging from this fire, He speaks ever so gently to your heart telling you what you mean to Him. He says you have been redeemed. So all the sin and shame you feel, is not the judgement He passes on to you. When you screw up, He wants you to let Him embrace you tightly with His loving forgiveness, not punish you for your wrong doing. When you didn’t hear Him call you, He wants to continue to direct you towards His calling by sending you His voice in another or direct you by means of another way that you can hear Him.

He wants you to know that you are precious in His eyes and He loves you. If you have been in unloving relationships or an unloving family, you may have trouble with accepting and receiving this unconditional love from God.  Over time, you built walls that place limits on God’s love, preventing you from seeing Him as a loving Father or being able to receive His love for lack of loving yourself yet He looks at you and sees a gem within you, behind the walls you have created.

So how do you remove these walls that are invading your view of who God is and how he sees you, so you can experience His unconditional love and mercy, see Him as the loving and forgiving Father? How do you see yourself through His eyes, see how beautiful and precious you are to Him?  Perhaps it starts with uncovering the cause of the wall, loving and forgiving yourself, loving and forgiving others, and looking to God like a little child. Pick up your sledge hammer, His Word and prayer, and destroy these walls.  Open your arms and heart and receive His love, see yourself as He sees you – the most beautiful pearl shining before His eyes.  Let His hands lead you through the waters and through the fire, accepting His forgiveness and knowing He is always there giving you love and mercy.  He is not dictating, judging, and punishing you for who you should be and are not, for what you should do and have not.  He is embracing you for who you are, even in your weakest, most sinful moments.

Motherhood – A Unique Gift

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I wanted to honor all mothers on the beautiful gift of motherhood that God reserved just for you.

A delicate flower
Grown from a seed
A design like no other
One would concede

As strong as an army
As gentle as a dove
She inspires and uplifts
With a nurturing love

Patient and trustworthy
Supportive and caring
Clothed with beauty
Vibrant and glaring

A heart like the ocean
Stretching to no end
She embraces her role
Like the touch of the wind

Grown in His garden
A mother is she
To fulfill His desire
Through all eternity

God created mothers with very unique gifts.  He knew that she would be exhausted at times, so he made her stronger and more determined.  He knew that she would be unappreciated at times, so he gave her little embraces of love.  He knew that she would feel that she wasn’t good enough at times, so he gave her little rewards of her hard work.  

Men were created with a physical strength and women were created with the strength of compassion.  I know there are many times that many mothers feel exhausted, underappreciated and that they are failing their children as they try to balance life or experience tough teaching moments.  Some moms stay at home, some are working moms, some are single moms and some are beautiful moms to others.   With each variety, each mom has a role and that role is unique to each child.  It’s unique in the way she loves each child, unique in the way she supports and encourages each child, and unique in the way that she teaches each child discipline and to survive in this world.  Each mom has one thing in common, she was created with compassion and love that connects her heart from that of God to another.  As she recognizes this, she fulfills his role as mother perfectly.

Along my journey as a mother, I have struggled and adjusted wanting to make sure I teach my children to love God and others, be accountable, responsible, trustworthy, respectful and above all the “best version” of who they are.  In doing so, I have tried many techniques, some that were successful with one child and not the other and some that failed miserably.  Above all, 3 things that have never failed:

1.       Praying with them before bed

2.      Reading the Bible with them and/or a devotion centered on a verse

3.      Encouraging and challenging their abilities

There have been frustrating moments where I felt they were not listening or paying attention and what I was doing had no value.  Just when I needed it most, God would send me a message through one of them revealing the impact in their lives.  One of these moments happened on an evening I was exhausted and needed reassurance that I was fulfilling my role as a mother and role model in my children’s lives.  That evening, one of my daughters told me she needed to tell me something.  She said, “Mom, thank you for having us read the Bible.”  She continued to tell me why this made such an impact and then told me, “Mom, you are a good mom.”  My heart was full and I knew God was beside me, letting me know that I’m doing my role to my best, that I am making an impact on these young souls.  I am not going to always get it right, but the things I will get right are the things that will matter the most.

Today as Mother’s Day approaches, know that you were created for this role as a mother and no one else could do it but you.  He knew that your children would need empathy and compassion, so he gave them you.   

 

Finding love and forgiveness

pexels-photo-334978.jpeg“You have never been in love” Antonia Lipari Mire

Words spoken by my late grandmother as we sat on her front porch swing. I was in my early twenties. I was a baby in my career, just graduated college, on my own in a small town in Arkansas. I was cocky, independent and lacked wisdom. My grandmother lived about 45 minutes away from where I lived after graduating college. I often would pay her a visit on the weekends. One conversation I remember clearly was talking to her with a very self centered attitude about marriage. I remember telling my grandmother that I was glad I had a college education so that I, unlike my aunts, would not have to put up with marital issues due to lack of the ability to support myself. My grandmother put me in my place in a matter of seconds. She looked at me and told me, “you have never been in love”.

Later I realized how much that conversation really impacted me. As I grew wiser and settled into my own marriage, I recognized what my grandmother meant. My grandmother was a model of love, love to her family and love to my grandfather. My grandparents had separated for as long as I could remember. My grandfather from what limited knowledge I had of him was not a very kind person to my grandmother. He appeared to be very lonely and didn’t have great relationships with his kids. When he was dying of cancer, 20+ years after they separated, my grandmother with the loving heart she had, moved in with him to take care of my grandfather until he passed away.

I remembered that story from my college days, yet the love and forgiveness didn’t sink in until after my grandmother had told me “I had never been in love” and after I was married. Both of those memories of my grandmother merged and gave me a lot of food for thought as I struggled in my own marriage and a divorce. The example my grandmother showed me was an extraordinary example of love and forgiveness. My grandmother had an immense capacity to love and she also had a great ability to forgive. Both of these were gifts that came to fruition when she took care of my dying grandfather, a man that did not treat her with love and respect.

It’s been a little over 2 years since my grandmother’s passing.  As I think of this memory of her,  my heart sings with joy because of the impact her words and example of compassion has had on me.  I truly believe as God has worked in my own heart, the example of my grandmother is a gift that has helped me to love and forgive even when it has not been reciprocated.

How many times should you forgive your brother or sister? Jesus tells us that we should forgive seventy times seven.  I’m sure he really meant infinitely.  St Paul also tells us in Colossians 3:12-14, that we should put on “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.  If one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”  Forgiveness is very difficult when you have so much pain buried with in you.  It is important to lift that pain to God and trust he will fill your heart with love to pave a path for forgiveness and healing in your heart.  In order to forgive you have to love.

 Are you practicing your capacity of love and forgiveness, especially to the one person who has inflicted the greatest pain upon you?

Where there is love

“Where there is love, obstacles disappear, thorns are turned into roses, crosses into pearls.”  Before the Altar, Concepcion Cabrera De Armidarose-blossom-bloom-red-rose-87469.jpeg

In our life, God gives each of us a tool – His gift of love.  Love is not just a feeling, it is an action.  Love is the basis for trusting in Jesus and accepting God’s will.  Trust in Jesus is absent without love.  Concepcion Cabrera De Armida explains it perfectly in her meditations Before the Altar,“ where there is love, obstacles disappear thorns are turned into roses, crosses into pearls”.  Filling our soul with Jesus’ love allows us to trust Him, to detach ourselves from the things of this world and rely on the will of God.  This love is an infinite love that pours out and satisfies all desires of the heart.  With that satisfaction comes a renouncement of self and reliance on God.  Concepcion Cabrera De Armida also states, “where there is love, the heart is filled with the most sublime aspirations, with irrepressible zeal and fiery ardor, with a thirst for purity, a hunger for martyrdom, endless crosses and an unlimited confidence in God.”

What does it mean to fill your soul, your heart with Jesus?  Can Jesus occupy your heart if it is filled with self-love, pride, egotism?  One must renounce oneself, surrender to God, void the heart and soul so that only Jesus can occupy it.  Allow Him to come into your heart and occupy it completely, to reign as King in your heart.  You will be consumed with a love that is larger than anything and God will reveal more to you.  He will give you more trials with more victories.  He will show you areas in your life where you have relied on yourself versus Him.  

This is where I found myself many years ago, embracing this love.  As I embraced it and consumed it, releasing myself, God revealed much more to me in my life.  He revealed areas that I knew I had to change.  The struggles came and the strength overpowered them.  There were times that I would reflect on a situation and wonder how I was able to react the way I did, how I was able to overcome it.  In many cases, it wasn’t me.  It wasn’t the way I would have normally reacted.  It was larger, it was an act of a consuming love, a greater confidence in God.  It was Jesus reigning in my heart as King, His heart beating in unison with mine.  He was the center of it all. 

Love is the foundation of it all.  It allows you to trust in God and let Him provide the strength to lift the burdens of your crosses you bear in your life.    

How does love provide this foundation to trusting God and carrying you through your struggles?  Concepcion Cabrera de Armida speaks of three dimensions of love in her meditation of charity in What Jesus is Like.  She states that we must first love Jesus with all of our heart and soul.  Most of us have this love for Jesus.  Where we begin to struggle is to allow Jesus to love us, the second dimension of love.  Once you have established a love for Jesus, then you can open your heart by your own will to allow Him to love you.  After you have allowed Jesus to come into your heart and love you, then you are giving up your own will to that of the Father.  Jesus wants you to look at Him, gaze upon Him and see this reflection of love He has for you, embrace it and exhibit it.  By soaking in His gaze and reflecting His love, you must completely empty yourself and then you will see the Father through Him and will your life over to Him.  By loving Him and allowing Him to love you, you will surrender to His desires.  This leads into the third dimension of love, to surrender the soul to only pleasing God.  By surrendering the soul to think only of pleasing God, you will resemble Jesus.  Jesus came into the world to seek your love and to surrender His love to you.  By resembling this dimension of love, your eyes and heart will be fixed on God and you will “live in God”.

What is it like to resemble this dimension of love, the goodness of Jesus?  This was another question that pondered my thoughts in the struggles in my life.  How can I resemble Christ – love as He did?  He graciously, lovingly, selflessly carried His cross for mankind.  With every thorn in my life, I weep, I complain, I ask God to take it away.  Is that the solution?  Does God want me to resemble Jesus in these moments?  Does He want me to rely on Him, embrace His love and allow it to overflow during my darkest hours?  How can we resemble Jesus’ goodness to forgive, to love unending, and to be compassionate to suffering?  It is an act of self-sacrifice. 

What does this self-sacrifice look like?  It is emulating Jesus’ compassion, His love and forgiveness to bear the crosses you are given just as He did.  It’s accepting these crosses in your life and asking for strength to bear them.  In What Jesus Is Like?, Concepcion Cabrera de Armida mentions an analogy of the striking of a harp and picking of the petals of a flower to a good soul.  She states that the good soul is like a harp and a flower.  “When it is wounded by criticism and torn apart by ingratitude, it can only respond with harmony and the perfume of goodness.”  This is what Jesus’ soul is like.  He radiates with self-sacrifice and kindness even though He was/is persecuted by mankind.  Through all the trials you experience, you are called to do the same.  You must seek kindness, compassion and love in each moment versus anger and pride.  You must humble yourself, holding true to God, seeking His guidance and strength in each moment of persecution.  Through these acts of love, kindness and humility, He will shower you with His love and He will carry you through any circumstance, big and small. 

The Endless Well

drops-of-water-water-nature-liquid-40784.jpeg

Imagine you are the woman at the well.  You travel a short distance to go to the well at an hour that you know no one will be there.  You feel lonely and ashamed.  There are things hidden in your heart that are unwanted guests.  You feel unvalued, unloved, ugly, broken, alone, ashamed, guilty, humiliated, and hopeless.  As you approach this place to draw water, the basic necessity of life, you see a man standing near the well.  You’ve never seen him before.  As you draw near, he ask you to fetch him some water.  His tone is gentle but surprised, you ask him “you ask me for water?”  Why would anyone want to associate with you?  He looks at you with love in his eyes and he tells you that “everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water [he] shall give will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14).  You look at him in wonder.  “What is he talking about?  He doesn’t even have a bucket.  How will he get any water?”  His words “whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst” resonates in your head.  So you lift your eyes to his and ask him, “can I have this water that you speak of?  I wish to never thirst.”  As he casts a smile upon you, it feels as if he sees all these things that are weighing on your heart, tucked away and hidden within.  You feel this warmth of love wrap you and all the feelings of your unwanted guests are lifted from your heart.  “Who is this man?”  You ask yourself.  “He knows my heart, my past yet he looks upon me with love and compassion.”  He is like no other.  As you look upon him and feel the embrace of his loving eyes, you know he is not like any other man you have known.  

Just then, he tells you that he is Jesus, and he loves you.  He tells you that there is nothing in your past that you should be ashamed of.  He tells you that you are beautiful and that if you drink from the well of his love that you will have eternal life.  You will never be alone, hopeless or broken again.  Your eyes begin to glisten with tears.  Tears for each of the unwanted guests that you know are no longer hidden in your heart and tears for your joy knowing that you will never thirst and hunger for love, beauty, hope and joy because you have found the endless well, the love of Jesus.  Peace settles as you return to the town square to proclaim the love you have just found. 

A Captivating Banquet

eucharist-body-of-christ-church-mass-161081.jpegWhen I am invited to your banquet, you captivate me.  My heart is wide open.  I’m ready to embrace all that you offer.  I kneel in your presence anticipating this feast.  I long to taste all that you are, to be consumed as I consume your body and blood.  The moment draws near, my heart beats faster with eagerness and delight.  I slowly approach and bow in your presence.  My heart skips a beat as my body becomes weak.  There in front of me your body is revealed, illuminated and perfect as the priest offers it to me.  I see you veiled in the priest.  You place yourself up on my tongue, the sweetness of honey, the bread from heaven.  To your cup I approach and your blood I intake.  How precious and great is this kiss to my lips?  As I walk to my pew, I feel your presence through my veins and in my heart, your body imparts the sweetness of love.

In this beautiful gift small and meek, a grand entrance of love manifests within me.  I can’t contain the tears as they flow from my eyes offering praise and thanksgiving for all you have given.  You sacrificed yourself upon that cross that I glance up on in this moment.  A river of mercy and love for me and mankind streamed as my tears do right now.  How can I repay you for such a grand gift?  You whisper to my ear “accept my love and follow me”.  I can no longer refuse.  “Here I am at the foot of your cross, waiting for your hand and your guidance.”

Have you been captivated lately?  Have you taste of the sweetest love, savoring within your heart and soul?  Have you longed for a greater love?

Open your invitation that was sent to you this week to the most marvelous banquet.  You are sure to fall in love with the one who is waiting for you to celebrate his love for you.