I was scouring my old journals (about ten of them) looking for a story that came to mind tonight, but I couldn't find it. Instead, I found something else that really moved me. This is the reason I journal--and why I think EVERYONE should journal. It's an amazing thing to stumble on clues to who you were at some past moment, and to see who you are becoming. It's wonderful to see how God was speaking to you, loving you in your imperfections.
Excerpt From My Journal, 6/22/04
I'm ready to give up on changing myself. I realize that I can't do it. I struggle with the same selfishness, pride, and unkindness that I have lived in for years.
Yes, unkindness. I have always liked to think of myself as a sweet, kind person, but I am seeing a mean streak in myself. I mentally or even verbally ridicule anyone who doesn't measure up to my standards. I have allowed a wall to be built between me and my family.
I can be a huge success in all that I do at work, but WHAT DOES IT MATTER? What impact has my life had on those around me? I fear that the answer is "none." I have not allowed you to shine in me, Father. I have choked out the candle of your Spirit with my pride.
I am a wretch! I need you, Father! Please forgive my selfishness, my monstrous pride, my hatefulness. Please wash me clean, and cast my sin away from me, to be remembered no more.
Make me new, Father. Create in me a clean heart. I know I don't deserve your love or your forgiveness, but I'm opening my hands, lifting them to you, to receive them....
I feel like I have been afraid to let you really change me. I've been afraid of losing myself, who I think I am. I don't even know who I am, but I am comfortable being the old me.
Who do I think "Sarah" is? She is funny. She is smart, very smart. She tries to be likable. She tries to be moral and kind and loving, but she feels dirty and unworthy deep down. She is afraid of change, afraid of new things, big and small. She does not feel worthy to be loved, not by God, not by anyone except maybe Ethan [my son].
What do I have to lose by surrendering to God? Will I lose my sense of humor? I don't think so. I believe God delights in my laughter, that he taught me how to see the humor in life and make others laugh.
Will I lose my intelligence? No, but I might lose my pride about it. And I might gain real wisdom, about what really matters.
Will I be lovable and likable and kind? Yes, if I let God shine through me. People are drawn to Jesus, and they are drawn to real peace when they see it.
Ah, peace. That is what I need most of all. Peace and trust and rest--freedom from my fears.
And can I be loved by God, my Father? Yes, yes, yes. For God so loved the world (me, Sarah) that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever (especially me, Sarah) believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God already loves me, just as I am. He sent his son to die for me, just as I am. I don't have to change, to clean myself up, to earn his love. He loved me before I was even born. He planned my days. He knit me together in my mother's womb.
I like that image of knitting--patient, detailed work that is done with the hands. Not like a sewing machine with every stitch uniform. No, I am a unique, special creation. There is no one else like me, and God made me to be just who I am--only better! He made me to love him, to love my neighbor, to submit to him in everything I do. He made me to trust in him and not be afraid.
Oh, Father! I surrender to you now. I don't want to wait until I am good enough. I want to give you my heart today. Lord, I surrender my all, my very identity to you. Change my heart! Teach me to know you. Take my offering of me that I lift up to you.
Five Years Later
Looking back, I can see that I've grown in the last few years. I am surrendering my fears to God, one by one, and I am learning to love others as he loves me--because I am learning how very much he does love me. I so thankful that God put these desires in my heart, and I want to pray these prayers always.