I was never really great at any sports I played. I tried a lot of them; and tennis was my best effort I suppose, but I considered myself average at best at all that I attempted on the field. In elementary school, at the age of twelve, I somehow became a field day beast. My mom came to pick me up after school, and I came to the car with a huge handful of blue ribbons. Somehow, I had defeated odds and ran harder, jumped higher, and stretched farther than most all of my classmates. I am sure my parents were in disbelief at how their semi-athletic, somewhat gawky daughter had accomplished such a feat, but here I was, proud.
Fast forward a few years to the infamous date known as December 26th. I was in high school, struggling to fit in and struggling to figure out who God had called me out to be. After several lies to my parents and several vodka gatorades ingested (yuck!), I was drunk, sick, and caught in my own deceit. After arriving home, vomit covered, I will never forget the look my mom gave me. Ashamed.
The word proud can be defined as this:
“a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s achievements, qualities, or possessions.” (Wikipedia)
The antonym is actually defined as just that, “ashamed”.
We start using this word early on in the lives of those around us, particularly our spouses, children, or grandchildren.
My Bailey Grace and Ally have been working, for the last 19 months really, at sitting unassisted. They are not mobile, and while they do a ton of kicking and attempting, it’s just not where their bodies are at in this moment. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for them mobility-wise; but I do know one thing: proud is not the word I will use to describe what they do or don’t do, regardless of the outcome.
You see, I would have been in the dark about this if God had not given us the special children that He did. In the past few months, I have found myself tensing up if anyone sees our girls do something “new” and presents with a sense of pride. I feel this same emotion whenever someone else posts their child reaching a new stage of development and tags, “I am so proud”. I believe this is a direct result of some wisdom God has given me into His heart towards His children.
Let’s go back to that suddenly athletic twelve year old prepubescent girl. While the world might say I was more important, more valuable, on that day than the day before (or the day after when I am not sure I ever won another blue ribbon); God actually saw me exactly the same throughout. Our pseudo-accomplishments do not change His unchanging love, no matter how much our culture says otherwise. This might be disappointing, until we look at that confused, broken 16 year old. You see, on that day, a day that I remember as one of mess, mistake, and pathetic decisions, God saw me just the same as the day before or the day after. Our sins, while the sins themselves are displeasing to Him, do not change the way our heavenly Father views us (thanks to Jesus). This is where I feel like “proud” becomes the wrong word all together: because these facts are not based on anything I have or haven’t done; they are based on Him and His character.
I love Bailey Grace and Ally so much. I love them exactly the way He created them, and I can honestly say I do not want them to reach a single inchstone (inches make miles after all) that is not in His plan. I do not think they are any less or more valuable according to what they do or do not “do”. This is something that I cannot really express in words; but I truly don’t feel like their quality of life is changed based on their lack or lack thereof of mobility. I know God’s plan for their life is much powerful than a developmental milestone reached or unmet. This deep seated truth in my heart has made me feel that much more loved by our Father; because it has helped me to understand His view of me as His child. You see, the Lord does not base His opinions of us on our performance. That would be conditional. That would be expectations set in accordance to our works. No. The Lord sees us, if we are in Christ, as that: as Jesus Himself. He sees us as His child, and the love that He has for us does not waver. It is not centered around anything we can muster up ourselves. Whether you are the field day winner or the drunk, deceptive teenager, He loves. He loves perfectly and He loves fully. Now, this is not to say the consequences don’t look differently. I would say that field day was ended with pizza and T.G.I.F.; while the other night puke, a pounding headache, and a moral hangover the size of the room I lay grounded in. But God’s feelings toward me? The same. Based on Him and who He is, not me or what I did or didn’t do. He is using our girls to teach me to love in this counter-cultural way; and I am so thankful that He has given me this vision. Seeing Ally and Bailey Grace through this lens as helped me to see others in this light as well. The woman posting selfie after selfie, living for a couple more likes than yesterday- loved. The kicker who missed the field goal and appeared to lose the big game- valued. The homeless drug addict living on the streets- important. The mom who seems to be “living off the government”, more concerned with paying for a new hairdo than purchasing a new coat for her baby- cherished. All a part of God’s big plan and all capable of being used if yet they would have eyes to see.
My prayer for each of us today is that we would know the truth of how God chooses to view His children. That we would see one another not through the lens of our own behavior or choices but through the lens of His great love. Whether it is a blue ribbon morning or a Tylenol, “oh no” kind of day, you are loved. Let’s bring our praises to the One who truly deserves it. He is always, always worthy.