There are days when things simply do not go as planned.
One time when I was like 15 my family and I went to Cabo San Lucas for vacation. The trip in general is what we affectionately call the “vacation from hell!” Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Oh how we laugh about it now, but it was the longest week which brought with it a new mess each day.
The beaches at Cabo are lovely, but some parts of the peninsula apparently are not the calmest of shores. The waves are tumultuous and loud and break so hard and the current can be deadly. Of course, my father and brother braved the waves and were having a blast diving into them before they would crest over. They had been dragged and pulled and somewhat beaten while having a great time. They call me over and say, “it’s not that bad, come on in.”
Well, first there is something you need to know about me – I love the beach. We are beach people. The greatest vacations are those where you have nothing to do but order drinks and turn every 30 minutes. And I love the water. I can boogie board and dive into waves and float and snorkel all day long. It fills me.
Another thing to note about me is that I don’t like getting hurt or being afraid. I try to avoid it as much as possible. The funny thing is I hate roller coasters (I get nervous every time I have to ride one), but I love water parks. I do not experience any fear or uncertainty around water (unless my kids are with me, then its a little different)…but in this case I was 15, before marriage, kids, responsibilities, etc.
So I go into the water with my cute little 15 year old body and teeny bopper bikini and the beach is beautiful; cold and blue and the waves crash and leave a thick foam all around my legs. I make my way to my dad and brother and the pull of the current is rough. I dig my feet into the sand as best as I can. The waves are coming harder one after another. Before I know it, a huge wave comes in and pulls us in and wails on us. I swallow salt water and it burns as it goes down into my nose and throat. I roll so many times and hit my head against the sand. It was terrifying. I finally find my legs and get my footing and I stand up only to realize that I was missing my top!!
Luckily and by God’s grace, my top was floating around not too far from me. My father and brother are laughing, though the wave got them pretty good too and luckily NO ONE was around because we were the only idiots brave enough to disregard the sign that said in red, “rough waters, swim at your own risk!”
Honestly, it’s funny now, but I had never been afraid of the ocean like I was that day. We had been to many beaches, we had wrestled with some hard waves before, but that time was different. It was a beating and it was harsh.
There have been days in my life when I feel like a wave is beating me down, and its harsh.
Something gets messed up or I miss something and all of a sudden this wave of insecurity and doubt and feelings wail on me and berate me saying, “you don’t have any of this life together.”
One would think perhaps this happens on days when I really mess up. When I lose my temper with my kids or when I get into a fight with my husband or when I hurt someone unintentionally. And though many times those mess ups tend to be the breaking point or the force that brings on the wave, usually when I feel really insecure and overwhelmed and beaten is when I make a small, insignificant mistake.
Like the time I was late for a class I was taking because I wrote the wrong date on my calendar.
Like that time I couldn’t find my sons jersey for football and I missed his first interception and was mean to my daughter. Yeah, I won mom of the year for that day and made myself pay penance for quite a while.
Or maybe it was that one time forgot to pay the water bill and we were charged a late fee.
In the grand scheme of things these mess ups weren’t huge. They were all remedied and really no big deal. Well, the one with my kids and the jersey was more significant for me, but usually, these mess ups start with something small.
But let me tell you, they become big. Huge. Like a small wave breaking at my feet which then begins to get pulled back by the current and before I know it, it breaks over me.
Feelings, emotions, lies, insecurities crash over me.
That one time I was late for class, I cried all the way, beating myself up for being so stupid and unorganized.
The time I didn’t find my sons jersey I never once took off my sunglasses, hoping to hide my bloodshot eyes that constantly filled with tears because I simply couldn’t get my life together and was pulling my children along for the beat down.
And yeah, we didn’t get our water cut off or anything and my husband was so patient and kind, but the shame and guilt overwhelmed me. I felt like such a disappointment.
On Friday I spoke to women at an event on how we must stop believing the lies and taking the leftovers in order to live out our passions and live beyond the physical. On Sunday lies were beating me down.
I began to unravel after an insignificant mess up.
I was filled with anxiety, overwhelmed with insignificance, beaten down by doubt and insecurity. The same things I had preached about being free from on Friday, mocked and humiliated me on Sunday.
Finally, after falling into the wreckage, I laid on my bed and cried out to God. No, I just cried. I didn’t even know what to say. I was pitiful and weak.
And then I remembered who I was in Christ. Well, sort of.
Identity in Christ. It’s one of those Christian phrases, but what does it really mean? I was reminded that I bear Christ’s image, I am a new creation, an heir, daughter of the King.
I know this. I do. I sat there thinking and praying and I said, “God that’s great. I get it. I do. But how does that help me with my issues and more importantly feelings right now?”
And I felt God press upon my heart this…
“You forget who you are because you lack self control and you love your self worth.”
Psalms 4:2 says, “How long will you love what is worthless?” The message says, ” How long will you lust after lies? How long will you live crazed by illusion?”
Shut the front door!
This Christian life is so contradictory to the world isn’t it? We are suppose to turn the other cheek, forgive, be weak, be humble, and ultimately, lay down our lives daily.
When Peter was on the water and the waves were crashing and maybe there was foam at his feet, he messed up. He became insecure, maybe he looked at what His friends would think, maybe he got scared because he realized he had zero control. He was terrified of failing, of sinking, of drowning. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by his past mistakes, lies, sin, mess ups.
Peter didn’t sink because he was a screw up. He didn’t sink because he got scared. He sank because he looked within himself and looked away from Jesus. His safety was Jesus.His rescue was Jesus. His dependence was on Jesus.
But he loved himself more.
How do we realize our identity in Christ when our self-esteem is crashing down?
Realize you don’t need self esteem, you are fully esteemed in Christ. Esteem is defined as respect and admiration. As image bearers of Jesus, we must deny ourselves, deny what we admire about ourselves and what we desire to be respected for. It’s part of dying to ourselves. We are saved by grace so that no one can boast.
Realize you lack self control. When difficult situations occur we lose ourselves, more importantly our identity. We put aside who we are and gather around us all our feelings and emotions and desires with little regard for anyone else. Pray for self control. Desire it.
Stop with the pity party. I am the queen of pity parties. The song, ‘Its my party I can cry if I want to’…yeah written for me! When we wallow in self pity, even for a little while, we become so absorbed with our own lives and interests and desires we lose out on God’s favor. We are His favorite and yet, we become disillusioned by our own selfishness. When we are so involved with ourselves, we become weary and consumed with things of this world…we become consumed by mostly just ourselves.
When the wave crash over you and you start to tumble again and again, and the water fills your lungs and nostrils and it burns and you can’t get your footing and you are stripped of everything, in that same moment realize God is tumbling and turning you, it is God who fills your lungs and nostrils and consumes you, it is God who plants your feet and it is God who strips you of everything that you are.
In that same moment, you breathe in, yet you are still breathless.
In that same moment, you cry out in pain, but you are held close and safe.
In that same moment, you can stand.
In that same moment, you recognize who you are is who He is.
And so we must die to self. Daily. Tumbled and broken, breathless and stripped. No one said dying was easy. Yet in the same way as we die to ourselves daily, we are perfected and made new. Redeemed and Restored.
Let us no longer forget our calling and let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who is faithful to complete the good work He started in us.