“Even when we fall short in the eyes of others, we can still be confident standing tall in His.” Holley Gerth, You’re Loved No Matter What
I underlined that quote because it brought with it the relief of a long, deep breath.
Thirty-eight pages into the book with a title that made me squirm just a little, I found my friend hugging me through her words on the page. The book is called You’ve Loved No Matter What. And the truth is that I believe it… but I don’t always think like it.
Maybe it’s the same for you, because I am confident in God’s love but I am also fully aware of the messiness of my own sin. I’ve been learning a lot about grace recently. The funny thing is, grace is messy too. But it’s the good kind of messy, the kind that works away at your insides and leaves you clean and fresh and new.
Just when I need reminders to give out the grace I’ve received, He sends people along to remind me of that grace. Friends who hop in the car and go on an adventure, family that texts late at night just to see how my day has been, teachers who care about me and not just the grade I receive. All of those people are walking grace.
One of those people mentioned it two months ago, how I’ve done these things and received a few awards but no one knows about them. My face lifted just a bit as I smiled small and answered back “telling all the great things isn’t exactly, you know, humble.”
But her response stopped me. “We’re your friends. When something great happens, we want to celebrate you! But we won’t know if you don’t tell us.”
It’s a crossroads, a weird in-between. I’ve been tip-toeing my way through it the past two months and I’m learning as I go. But here’s what I’ve realized:
I am loved no matter what. In God’s eyes, I am His and He is mine and nothing will change that. I don’t need man’s approval. In fact, their love toward me is simply a gift of grace from God, an extension of His grace. But just as I love to celebrate all that my friends are and the wonderful ways that they’re using their gifts to further His Kingdom, they want to do so for me, too. Because that’s what friends do.
Stop trying to downplay your gifts.
Stop trying to minimize your successes.
Stop trying to skim over your strengths with, “Oh, that was nothing.”
It was not nothing.
It was the spark of God within you.
It was what He called you to, coming forth into the world.
Holley Gerth, You’re Loved No Matter What
So next week we’ll go celebrate. Because God opened a door and we’re gonna celebrate the gifts. We’re going to talk about them right out loud and I might blush a little bit but the truth of it all is that it’s all about Him, all is grace, and no matter what comes or doesn’t come, we are loved no matter what.
Getting to celebrate that together is even better.
I fell in love two summers ago. But it’s not what you’re thinking because I didn’t fall in love with a person. I fell in love with the power of story.
And then late that summer I met her at a restaurant somewhere in Arkansas. And I tried so hard not to be a fangirl. I kept repeating it in my head… “she’s a normal person, just like you.”
It’s true. She is. But she looked me straight in the eye over dinner and asked me about my God-Sized Dream. My palms were so sweaty and I could have straight up lied and the truth is, she wouldn’t have known it. But I decided to look straight back at her and tell the truth, to tell her about story – how much I love it and how I believe when we keep our stories inside, we deny God glory.
Stories are so often meant to be told. Twelve hours later ‘story’ became the theme for (in)RL 2014. And it was beautiful.
My words that evening, though? That first time of quietly voicing my dream and love of story? It wasn’t beautiful in the way you’re thinking. It was messy and probably confusing. The words stumbled out but she simply listened and offered grace.
It rushed out, how I’m so certain that it doesn’t matter how much life you’ve lived or what you’ve walked through, you still have a story. How He knows every part of you – the messy, insecure, broken, beautiful parts – and He loves the mess right out of you. How He is redeeming and writing a masterpiece through your days.
Your story isn’t over. I’m so certain, so very sure. Because look, you’re here and breathing and maybe for one or two of you seeing these words on your bright screen, you’re suffocating, doggy-paddling, confused and feeling so alone and unknown.
But the truth is God is in the business of restoration. You are loved right where you are, more than you could ever imagine or dream. He sees your heartache and your joys, He knows the simple things in life that bring a smile to your face and He’s been right by your side through each and every storm you’ve gone through. He has walked each page with you and He isn’t finished writing your story.
I couldn’t get all of those words out over dinner on a Monday night in Arkansas. But a stranger became a heart friend. And then nearly a year and a half later, that heart friend became my boss.
He’s writing a story we can’t see just yet, friends. We have the briefest of glimpses. We’re looking through the keyhole but He knows all that is on the other side of the door.
My sweet boss released her newest book last week. She is the Queen of Encouragement and each one of her books is wonderful. This one, though, is something special.
You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect is the book all women need. Trust me. Because life is often so far from easy. The story so often doesn’t make sense. But we are so very loved, every day, all the time, no matter what.