Day 8 Love is the Peeling Back of Calloused Layers

This is my eighth blog post for the Write 31 Days challenge, which I signed up to four days late.

Ephesians 2: 1 – 12 (The Message)

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

As God started using friends to gently shepherd me further into His Truth, He also continued to peel back calloused layers that had grown over my heart. In slowly leading me to recognize my craving for the love and acceptance of those around me, He peeled this back further to reveal deep doubts within me of His love and acceptance for me, by turning me to Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Love Idol.

I saw myself in Jennifer’s story, I saw how I had turned my heart away from God as a child to idolize the love and approval of others. As a child, I failed to realize that I had begun worshipping humans, rather than God and that this was the reason why the image I had built of my Saviour was one of an unforgiving Lord, whose love would be revoked the second I did not meet his expectations. 

Now looking back at the months after my Mom’s passing, I realize that the earthly loss I had endured was causing me to question God’s love for me once again. Without fully realizing it, I was choosing to hold onto deep grief, hurt and anger within me in distrust, feelings that I would later discover did not only stem from losing my mother but also from traumatic memories of my past. And yet rather than turning the burdens I carried to my Heavenly Father in trust, I repressed it all, fearful that if I revealed my true self to Him, a broken and angry child, He would turn His back on me. My experiences of human rejection, loss and broken trust over the years had shaped my image of God, an idol built upon fear, replacing the One True God.

Even with reading Jennifer’s story and being encouraged by friends to trust in God’s goodness, I was at this point unable to see my error. And so, I would sit there in my quiet times in the morning, encouraging myself with the words from Ephesians 2 that God did not expect me to be “good enough”, or earn His love, but loved me just as I was and that therefore I should be “strong” in His love and look to the future, rather than dwell on my grief. I failed to understand the words: “And all we do is trust him enough to let him do it.” And so, I continued battling on in my new teaching job, believing that God had placed me there to bless, despite extreme exhaustion and anger mounting.

However, it wouldn’t be long before I would reach my own human limits and God would lead me into a period of deep rest, a rest He would use to peel back further layers that separated my broken heart from His overwhelming Love for me.

Psalm 62: 8

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Have your experiences of rejection or broken trust ever shaped your image of God? If so, in what way?

What has helped you learn to trust God, to lean on, be confident and feel safe with Him?