As You Are

I have an honest confession: I’m not who I say I am. I’ll elaborate in a bit but here’s a bit of backstory to this confession:

I’ve watched a lot a movies this year and have liked every single one I’ve seen. As Hollywood (as well as the world) becomes more aware and accepting of different backgrounds and idea, although slowly and long overdue, the movies seem a lot more relevant to me personally. It may also be the fact that the 90’s have made its way back into our lives and I cannot even begin to express the amount of love I have for Winnie the Pooh. With that said, there’s another movie that completely took me by surprise.

There are few people who don’t know who Mr. Rogers is and have never seen his show. This is sad for me. I grew up watching him and in contrast to a lot of people out there, believe he was and still very much is a great example for a life well-lived. In an interview that one of his sons gave for the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, he mentioned that his father was somewhat like the "second coming of Jesus”. Some critics say that he instilled a false sense of pride in Millennials because he would say that we are special just as we are. But like… that’s just irrational.

Throughout the last 10 years of my life, I’ve had a fair share of lost relationships. In high school, I lost my closest group of friends who I had grown up with because of some life choices they made that didn’t resonate well with me. I then went on to lose the rest of my connections as I got involved with a church that made me completely cut off everyone else in my life. Then there were lost relationships within that church when I became a “rebel” and didn’t agree and conform to their way of life, more so when I left the church. And finally my last relationship in which I am partially to blame, and along with that, my closest friends. So here I am back at square one, learning to be okay without certain people but still a very hurt soul.

Looking back on all these relationships, I realize the common reason they all ended. Sure, there were factors in why things happened the way they did, but the core of it all is this: acceptance. Whether it had been my accepting those people as they were or vice versa, that’s been the issue the whole time and I didn’t realize it until now.

This past Wednesday, my pastor sent a message out to our community group telling us to think about our dads and that we’d share stories that night. I’ve become comfortable about sharing certain things, but nothing this personal. Though my plan was to pass on sharing, my pastor’s wife said we’d fo around the circle. There were some tears while sharing (mostly from me because I’m a baby), but it was just so good to hear these stories. 10/15 people had unsatisfying relationships with their fathers and the point of the message was that God is a better father than the best there is here on earth. But after all the sharing and the message, my pastor talked about wanting all of that for our group. That we are our own little family and the reason we meet is to open up, listen to each other and be known in an environment that is loving and accepting. We can come with our stories and our highs and lows without the fear of judgement, knowing that each person there is rooting for each other.

I am literally tearing up writing this, just as I did when he was saying this.

I have a really hard time believing that people will accept me as I am, especially in the church. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Something I remember people saying of me in my previous church is this: “I give up on her.” This, among other things I’ve heard said about me in that church completely shut me down both mentally and emotionally. It caused me to not only give up on people, but to kind of give up on myself. And it wasn’t because I would show signs of atheism or didn’t believe in God. It’s because I wasn’t who they wanted me to be. I wasn’t buying into the crap that would later be revealed to everyone as deceit and lies. Nonetheless, it gave me a really false sense of worthlessness and that’s what I began viewing myself as. Unworthy of time. Unworthy of friendship. Unworthy of love.

Church hurt is real, as its a place run by people who are still imperfect no matter how high up they are on the chain. I’ve spent the past 2 years going late to services and leaving immediately after, never wanting to getting involved or form any type of relationship because of the church that hurt me. But the one thing I didn’t realize could heal me of church hurt is, in fact, the church. I’m so glad to have found the church I’m at now and can honestly say I’ve healed more in the past 6 months of being there than I would’ve on my own.

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. - Fred Rogers

I hope you know you are loved and accepted just as you are. If not by people, by Mr. Rogers. But since he’s gone - and this is of much more importance- you are loved and accepted by God. It’s taken me a while to come to grips with this, and I know I’ll have my times of doubt and still continue to call myself unworthy. But I am not who I say I am.

God sees me differently. He made each and every one of us, unique as we are, in his image. He saw us in our sin and deemed us worthy of the ultimate sacrifice: his only son. So when you begin to call yourself unworthy, I hope you don’t think of the times somebody else has called you that. I hope you don’t think of your flaws or mistakes. But instead, think of God, his love and sacrifice and find your identity there. And know that wherever God’s love is experienced, his love is also given. I’ve found a place for that and I hope you have or will too.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

-Psalm 139:13-16