Who Do You Say That I Am?

 

You are reading the first post in a series called Hearts Undaunted. We are exploring how to live free from overwhelming fear, anxiety, confusion, and worthlessness. For more on the origins of Hearts Undaunted, visit His Pen on My Heart, where Tereasa is hosting an introduction.

 

Sophomore Honors English Comp: Write an essay about the vacation spot assigned to you by using the information in the travel brochure provided.
I got Key West, Florida.
I dove into intense, flowery descriptions of rolling surf and sandy beaches, luxurious hotel amenities and neighboring attractions. I put forth much effort, producing what I (humbly) considered to be the perfect script for a commercial advertising Key West.
I got a 76%. A C!
And I was introduced to the sneaky point deducting, A-stealing culprit: the “implied you”.
Now, I knew the egregious error of using the second person for formal writing, but the “implied you”? As in: Splash in the azure waves lapping the peaceful Floridian shoreline.  I’m implying that you should do this.
Each implication equaled a deduction. Start at 100%, and plummet to 70th perecentile.
That’s how I viewed God, too.
Sitting atop some fluffy cloud, pen poised to deduct each slip-up, each sin:
Raised her voice? Minus 2!
Slept in? Laziness! Minus 5!
Gossiped to her friend about her husband neglecting her? A confessable sin, tsk, tsk. Minus 15!
My image of God was seriously distorted.
I transferred the natures of authority figures in my life to God. I took their competitive, perfectionistic, obedience-demanding natures, and attributed them to God.
I gleaned these attributes, and expectations of my behavior, from individuals both inside and outside of the church.  My bottom line was: when I meet the expectations of those in authority over me, I earn their approval. When I earn their approval, then I am valuable to them. When I fall short, I am a disappointment.
A C on a paper, quiz, test, project. Gasp! We expected more out of you! You’re not working to your potential! You know better than to make those mistakes. I sure hope you work harder and do better next time!
I didn’t get up early every day to pray with undivided attention, using the specific formula given by the accepted expert at the time? Gasp!  Good Christians/Catholics (Insert title here) do this or they are not serious about the faith.
I developed an unconscious belief that God must work that way, too.
I recalled a suggestion I had once heard that struck me as a bit odd. A speaker at a women’s retreat said that, if I wanted to grow in my faith, I should learn more about Who God is.
I didn’t understand. After all, I’ve been blessed to have the faith my whole life. I’ve attended Catholic school from kindergarten right on through college. I know lots about God. I should have faith to move mountains. We should be real close, God and me…
Yes, I knew lots about God, but I didn’t know God.
Heart Verse:
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He hath made.” Psalm 145:8-9
I had memorized words like mercy and unconditional love (agape). I could spout them off when quizzed, but they did not penetrate my heart.
In A Confident Heart, Renee Swope explains that God does not define us by our sins and failures. I am not Mandy, the people pleaser or Mandy, the one who needs to make more time for her kids.
I am Mandy, daughter of the King. I am Mandy, cherished by the One who has my best interest on His heart.  I am Mandy, beloved of the Father, who
“…will take great delight in [me], He will quiet [me] with his love, he will rejoice over [me] with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17
This is a song Ann Voskamp fleshes out in One Thousand Gifts. She explains how each gift she names is an expression of God’s love for her.  It becomes easy to see how intimately God is involved in my life when I name those gifts, too.
That text from a friend, saying she was just thinking of me?
The sunlight streaming through the window, shining so brightly that I have to shield my eyes?
Stumbling upon the exact words that I needed  in a devotional?
These are all God’s way of telling me: I know you. I see you. I am with you. You matter to me. I love you!
Each gift becomes a beat in His love song to me, and an invitation.
See, God doesn’t want just my hour on Sunday. I’m not putting in time and checking things off of a list. He’s not just a big part of my life or even the focus of my life.
He is my life.
God invites me to be in communion with Him. He wants me to stay with Him, always. He is driving, and I’m along for the ride.
Friends, I’m going to be sharing several tools that helped me break chains of fear, anxiety, depression, people pleasing, and living a life overwhelmed.
This one is the most fundamental.Continually seeking to know God better is key to realigning everything else in your life.
I was doubtful. How much difference would this search make? Would anything change?
Yes! And the best part is: this particular process has been joyful! These are not scary discoveries about God. They are eye-opening and positively life-changing.
Heart Tool: Seek God
            Step 1: Study Who He really is.
            Step 2: Cultivate communion with Him
Heart Questions:
1.       What is your image of God? Be really honest. No one is grading you.
2.      Did you discover any perceived characteristics of God that you suspect may not be accurate?
3.      Stop and consider where those false notions about God may have come from.
Heart Challenge:
Ask God today to reveal His true character to you. Ask Him to speak specifically to those characteristics He wants you to understand most about Him right now. Ask Him to lead you to the resources He wants you to study to learn more about Him. Ask Him to show you how to live in communion with Him.
Heart Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for each person reading this right now. You love each of them with an unconditional love which cannot be expressed in words alone. Impress on their hearts Who You are. Draw them close to You and reveal to them Your mercy, Your grace, Your loving-kindness and Your faithfulness. Bring people and resources into each of their lives to speak uniquely what it is You want them to know about You right now, today. Keep inviting them to communion with You, and guide them in the steps to do it. I ask these things in the name of Your precious Son. Amen.
***
It would be a joy to hear from you! Do you have thoughts, questions, or answers to the above questions that you would like to share? Please share in the comment section below. If you prefer, I also welcome comments at mandy (dot) mianecki (at) gmail (dot) com.
Shalom!

Frequently linked, with gratitude, to:
A Holy Experience, WIPWednesday, Whatever Wednesdays, What’s Up Wednesday, Women Living Well, Denise in Bloom, Unwrapping His Promises, Thrive @ Home Thursday. Just for Fun Friday, Leaving a Legacy

Comments

  1. Love this! Reposting :)

  2. Mandy Mandy Mandy. I’m tempted not to tell you how fabulous this is because I don’t want to resurrect that people-pleaser, but God is working in you girl! Great post!

    Thanks for linking up!

    • LOL–as in I actually laughed out loud when I read this! Aw, thanks:) Awesome that you know me that well all ready. Thanks for your kind words and support.

    • My pleasure! Glad I could bring a laugh! My husband tells me I’m not really that funny–I just think I am. You can let me know when we meet in person! Thanks for linking up with WIP!

  3. You have been about much heart work, this is quite evident! Today’s tools are relavent & doable! Thank you for your courage. Congratulations on your guest post on His Pen on My Heart! Am looking forward to next Wednesday:)

  4. This really spoke to me today, Mandy. Thank you!

  5. Love the heart verse!

  6. This is something that I have been learning as well. It’s not about my failures, it’s about His love. WHY oh WHY does it seem to take some of us a while to really get this? Wonderful post!

    • I think it’s because there is someone who would love nothing more than for us to stay stuck in our failures. Sometimes that knowledge alone is enough to make me determined not to let him win! Thanks, Stacey!

  7. This is one of those lessons I have to learn over and over and over… and over…

    Thanks for today’s reminder!

    Visiting from Ann’s today. Blessings!

  8. Nice post, Mandy! I think we’ve all had that image of God at one point in our lives — the celestial scorekeeper, replaying all our missteps on the heavenly jumbotron. (LOL – You know that will show up in a devo on my blog in the future!)

    I’m so grateful for His grace and mercy. I’m a hot mess on my best day.

    • Well said, Susan! I like that:) I’ll be on the look-out for that devo.

      So grateful for His mercy! And to you for stopping by. Thanks, Susan.

  9. So good Mandy, and so true! Letting go of “the list” was one of the most wonderful times in my life!

  10. My heart is full of excitement to go on this journey with you! As a little girl my view of God was a punisher…I had a hard time wrapping my head around the unconditional love concept
    As a teen I felt God was and could be my One and only protector…I am not sure how I view Him now? Anxious to explore that area though

    • So, so very kind of you, Jennifer! I am excited that you’re journeying with me. You answered my Heart Question, yay! How very exciting that your view of God has transformed! Praising Him for that. Explore away, and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

  11. Many…great post…I know this transformation too…I went from thinking I was always disappointing God…ticking Him off…to truly understanding and receiving His unmerited…unconditional love for me. No better way to live:) blessings to you~

    • That is amazing! I am so thrilled to hear it. You’re right. There is no better way to live. Thank you for stopping in here. I’d love for you to join me for the rest of the series. Blessings to you!

  12. I’ve viewed God in that same way. Almost as if He were just waiting to deduct from my score. Glory to Him, He has been showing me who He really is and how much He wants a relationship with me in the last three years. I am blessed to have grown up in a Christian home and to have known Jesus all my life and I am rejoicing that he is growing me in Him so much! Hallelujah!

  13. I loved this, Mandy….oh how I loved it. So much truth and wisdom shared here, thank you! I’m going to read it again….

    • Thank you, Nikki! This morning, I was discouraged by a negative Facebook comment. When I checked my messages here, it was a delight to find your kind words. Thanks for being an encouraging force in my life:)

  14. :0)…lovely words! I had viewed God as the Master list keeper as well…checks and minuses all over my life. Grace is am amazing truth to grasp! So glad He has revealed this to you!

    • Such an insidious lie the enemy binds us with, isn’t it? The freedom that comes with the truth is amazing! Thanks for your thoughts, Donna.

  15. Mandy, I linked up behind you at Allume, and I’m glad I did! I’ve been wanting to get back over to your blog, because I love the heart you put forth in your writing! This is so beautiful! I love especially love the heart verse: perfect timing for its use in your post! I love the challenge at the end, and just overall the way you speak…providing a glimpse of your life. Thanks for sharing this! It definitely stirred my confidence in God’s undeniable love for me!

    • Hi Jacqui! How Providential that you linked up behind me! I’m so thrilled to have you back here:) Your words are so, so kind, and I’m praising God that this post blessed you. I hope you’ll stay with us through this series. You are welcome here any time!

  16. Beautiful post. Keep hearing from God – His voice is so amazing. :) Blessings, Lauren, lholmes79.wordpress.com

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