Ministry

Undeserving

This is a hard post for me to write. It’s hard because, for one thing, it’s difficult for me to discuss pain and hardship I’ve endured without feeling like a whiner (and we’ll come back to this point later). It’s also hard because God has been doing a difficult thing in me lately, hard work down deep in my soul that hasn’t been pleasant to walk through but that needs to be done. And it’s not easy to talk about.

At the end of January, on the anniversary of my dad’s passing, I opened up here about how my dad wasn’t exactly perfect — far from it, in fact — and how God has healed the damage his damaged-ness wrought on my soul.

But the truth is that the enemy started in on me at an extremely young age, and he used a lot of different people in my life to try and destroy me. Abuse, mean kids and bullies, teachers who despised me for reasons I couldn’t (and still can’t) fathom, adults who failed to protect me, the perceived indifference of loved ones that comes with being a middle child, constantly feeling either overlooked and ignored, misunderstood, or downright hated . . . this pretty much defines the majority of my childhood and adolescence.

I was always so focused on the hurt my dad caused, that I pushed down all that other hurt that was inflicted on me growing up and focused on him instead. But now that I’ve made peace with my dad, God’s been digging down deep in my soul and exposing all of these other wounds and, bit by bit, has been taking me through a process of grieving for my lost childhood, and ultimately of healing.

And somewhere in the midst of all of this, He’s exposed a couple of lies that I’ve believed and carried with me throughout my adult life. I didn’t believe them on a conscious level, but deep down in my soul, I have believed that I deserved every bad thing that ever happened to me.

But I didn’t deserve that. I didn’t deserve any of it, and I refuse to believe that lie any longer.

{And if deep down you feel the same way, sweet sister? IT IS A LIE. You didn’t deserve it, either, and whatever suffering you’re going through now, you don’t deserve that, either.}

The other lie is the flip side of the same coin — believing that I don’t deserve good things. Part of this is good ol’ First World guilt — it started from a healthy place of trying to gain perspective on my struggles by comparing them to what people in other parts of the world have to deal with on a daily basis. But somewhere along the line that morphed into thinking that it’s wrong of me to want things that bring me pleasure, or are just plain good for my soul. See above re: thinking that talking about my own suffering makes me a whiner for one example.

Here’s another example. Recently, I read an online devotional in which the writer talked about taking joy in the simple pleasure of matching her nail polish to random items in her environment. As I read that, I looked at my own nails, neatly trimmed, but bare with ragged cuticles. I used to love giving myself manicures and pedicures, but somewhere during these hard years, I stopped. I thought about how I’d love to start doing that again, but there are obstacles. It’s not really in the budget, for one thing. I decided that I should pray about it and ask God to provide a way to restore this simple pleasure to my life, but when I bowed my head to ask, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt too frivolous, and it felt selfish. Manicures and pedicures are fine for other women, but somewhere along the line, I decided that I don’t deserve them.

And the Lord’s been showing me that I’ve done that with a lot of things, and he’s been showing me that it’s not about deserving. He gives and He takes away. If He decides to bless me with something, my job is to be thankful and, if possible, to use my blessing at least partly to bless others. My job is not to feel guilty about whether or not someone else has been similarly blessed. My job is not to compare myself to other people at all. Mine is to remember that He’s a loving father who delights in me and knows how to give good gifts to His children.

There is one thing, I realized, that I truly don’t deserve, but I have it anyway–and that’s His unfailing love. It’s the Love that remained with me throughout my painful childhood, comforting me, giving me strength, and holding me together. It’s the Love that’s at work now, healing and undoing all of the damage to my soul. There’s nothing I can do to earn that love, and it means that I don’t have to earn my place in this world. I can let go of feeling like I have to explain myself or justify my existence.

And I can let go of feeling like I deserve to be punished for simply breathing air and taking up space.

I pray, dear sister, that you can let that go, too, and bask in the blessed assurance of His love.
Zephaniah 3:17

PS – Click here to download my free printable, A Prayer for the Weary Woman!

PPS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth and Missional Women’s Faith-Filled Fridays.

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8 thoughts on “Undeserving”

  1. Beautiful post – much of what you write mirrors my experiences and resonates deeply – thank you so much for sharing your heart and this journey of healing – it helps. His unfailing love never ceases, His mercies new every day.

    1. Thanks, Tracey. I was reluctant to share it, but I felt like God could use it to help others, so I’m glad to know you found it helpful.

  2. Wow, you just whacked something into perspective for me. I’ve never really wanted manicures/pedicures. They bring me frustration more than anything, because I use my hands SO MUCH, and so manicures are usually ruined within 6 hours, lol.

    But… while, legitimately, we haven’t been able to afford massages, they are something I enjoy, and are even GOOD for me. But I’ve always treated them as a luxury.

    But a 1-hr massage at the beauty school, once a month, is probably a fraction of the cost of what many women spend per month on manicures. And so I think I need to make those a priority. Because I hurt. A lot.

    Somewhere along the way, I was able to disconnect with thinking I deserved the ‘bad things’. My problem is in knowing I don’t deserve them, but never being able to break free of them anyway.

    I have a harder time believing I deserve anything more than what I need to survive. And I have no idea where to start fixing that, because mere really isn’t enough.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve been stuck in survival mode for so long that anything that’s not a basic survival need feels like an extravagance. I’m gradually (re-)learning that there is a difference between surviving and thriving, and that there are things I legitimately need in order to truly thrive that aren’t actually necessary for survival, and that’s not a bad thing or something to feel guilty about.

      I hope you get a massage. I myself am wishing I could afford regular chiropractor appointments, but now I just might look into a beauty school massage as an alternative. I guess they probably do mani/pedis too. I always forget about that option.

    2. Also, this: “My problem is in knowing I don’t deserve them, but never being able to break free of them anyway.” Oh my heavens, yes. If you figure that out, please let me know.

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