We’ve all been presented with the question, “What do you want to be remembered for when your time is up?” I could go on all day about characteristics and attributes that I hope I am known for when I die. I would love to make an impact and leave an amazing legacy. I want to be known as a great wife, friend, daughter and hopefully, someday, mother. But, above all of those identities, there is one that is even more important to me. I want to be known as one who is loved by God.
Initially that phrase might sound kind of funny to you. “Sagan is, ‘One who is loved by God.” Like, wow, isn’t she a little full of herself? Look at her thinking she’s worthy of God’s love. But hang on and let me try to better communicate my intention. I haven’t always tried to live my life as someone who is loved by God. No, for most of life, I have lived as someone who loves God.
You see, I grew up a PK (preacher’s kid). For as long as I can remember, I attended Sunday School, was a leader in my youth group and was always known as the ‘good christian girl’ in school. I am very aware of the labels that others placed on me and, for the most part, I wore those labels with pride. I was proud of the the fact that I was someone who loved God. I tried to love God well. I went to church and invited my friends to church. I read my Bible and was comfortable praying out loud in a group of my peers. I knew all the words to say and all the things to ‘do’ for God (and others) to communicate just how much I loved Him. While all of that sounds good and admirable, it became a major problem.
When I was in high school, I began struggling in some of my relationships. I put boyfriends and friendships ahead of my relationship with God and they became idols in my life. I was able to maintain a facade on the outside by saying and doing all of the right things, but on the inside, the guilt I carried around was destroying me.
I didn’t have a solid understanding of how loved I was by God. Although I knew in my head that there was nothing I could do or say to make God love me more or make God love me any less, I wasn’t allowing that truth to transform my heart. I was living in a vicious cycle of feeling ‘close to God’ when I knew I had my priorities straight, and keeping him at arm’s length when I felt guilty about a poor decision. My identity as a child of God was placed solely on my ability to love God, not His ability to love me. At some point, I started viewing christianity as a set of rules I was supposed to follow and it became exhausting. I started searching for answers. There must be more to this following Jesus thing than always feeling like a failure.
Just in these last few months, I have started exploring what it might look like to live as one who is loved by God. In my mind, this means learning to walk in grace and freedom and remaining accepting of God’s love no matter my successes or failures. How many weeks did I intentionally not pray because I felt like God was disgusted with my actions? How many opportunities for reconciliation did I let slip by because I was so embarrassed about how I had failed, again?
Friends, if you can relate to my words in any way today, I want to encourage you to shift your perspective. Stop second guessing if you’re ‘good’ with God. Understand that he is SO in love with you. He is overjoyed when you reach out to him every. single. time. You don’t have to have your act together to be in relationship with Jesus or to receive God’s love. Romans 8: 38-39 says this:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Go back and read that again.
Seriously, this amazing news!! We have got to stop living as people who love God. We will fail, every time. God’s love will never fail. When we let that truth transform our lives, we will find so much freedom. Freedom to truly walk with Jesus in this tough, messy thing called life. Can you feel the pressure lifting from your shoulders? You don’t have to have it all together.
When the love of God fills us up, we are then able to let His love pour over into the lives of those around us. That is when we will begin to see the fruit of our faith. It is not about what we can do for God on our own, because honestly, it’s not much. It is first and foremost about putting ourselves in a position to be loved by Him and watching that love shape the way we live our lives for His glory.
Be encouraged, friends.
This post was originally published on the blog, Putting on the New.