How My Kids are Teaching Me Self-Acceptance

Confession: I am not the most confident person. I struggle with self-doubt and self-deprecation. I am anxious about how I am perceived. My self-image could do with some improvement. But slowly I am learning self-acceptance. I am growing in my ability to be comfortable in the skin I was created to live in. 

I am loved vs. I can earn love

I’ve been meditating on God’s love recently. I have always believed God loves unconditionally and that He loves all people, which includes me. God loves all people generally, and I believe He loves other people specifically. However, I’ve had to do a lot of soul work to internalize the fact that God loves me. Me. The sinner. The inadequate. The wretched soul. 

But it’s true! And I can’t earn this love. It is freely given in an immeasurable amount. As pastor and author J.D. Greear prays, “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.” This love that God has for me is infinite, unconditional, and aimed straight at me.

I’ve adopted a mantra over the last few years to help me remember the reality of God’s love for me as his child. “I am divinely, deeply, and distinctly loved.” This simple statement serves to remind me that God’s love is divine – it is perfect and from above. It reminds me that His love is deep, like an ocean whose floor I can not reach. And it reminds me that it is distinct. God loves me in a way like no other person can love me. He loves me for who I am. All the good parts about me along with all the broken bits. 

As I walk this journey of self-discovery I am learning that my destination is the arms of Christ, who loves me because I am his own. Being a father, I have learned the weight of this truth. I love my children unconditionally. Yet God loves me more than I could ever love my own children. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” How much more does God love us! This love he bestows on us is truly astounding. 

My eldest son is a phenomenon. He is 13 but he is the most self-assured and confident 13 year old I’ve ever known. He knows who he is and what he is about. He is comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t follow fashion trends and his deep southern accent sticks out like a sore thumb. But that doesn’t bother him in the least. In fact, he is proud of it. He’s goofy at times and hot tempered at others. He takes the good of himself along with the not so pretty parts and owns it. He knows what makes him who he is and he accepts it wholeheartedly. 

I’ve been observing him a lot lately, trying to take a lesson in self-acceptance from him. Because he knows and accepts himself for who he is, I want to do the same. I want to receive God’s love without putting a front on to receive it. I want to let God’s love wash over the parts of me that I enjoy and am proud of. But moreso, I need His love to wash over the pieces that have been in the bonds of shame for so long. I need His love to flood me. 

In his book Surrender to Love, David Benner uses the illustration of God’s love being an ocean or a river. We can enter the water of God’s love, but until we learn to float in it and let the current carry us, we will never feel its complete impact. We tend to want to struggle through the waves but instead what we need to let the water do the work. God’s love is like this; if we allow Him to do the work of loving us, we can rest in that love and be carried away by it.

I am not enough vs He is enough

I can describe myself with both good and bad adjectives. I am creative. I am empathetic. I am caring. I am introverted. I am quiet. I am hesitant. I am cautious. 

But I can also describe myself by what I am not. I am not assertive. I am not gregarious. I am not outgoing. I am not self-assured. I am not adventurous. I am not so many things. It is easy to obsess and mourn over the areas where our personalities seem lacking. I am not so many things but… I know I AM.

The I AM is with me. The I AM loves me. The I AM provides for me. The I AM redeems me. I can rest from all my striving to be enough because I know I AM. 

Being a parent has taught me how to be a child again. A child of I AM. A child who is loved.  When my children disobey or disappoint, do I love them less? Certainly not. So it is with my Heavenly Father. I am to simply accept myself for who He made me to be and receive the love He offers. This divine, deep, and distinct love.

Let the flood of God’s love wash over you today. Be changed by it. Be carried away by its current.

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