There is always a lurking temptation with a new beginning. This new thing will make me good enough, smart enough, happy enough, etc. Fill in the blank with your longed for desire. We all have that deep, inner voice that knows the secrets we try not to share, the voice that knows our underlying motivations for our actions. You can ignore it for a season, but it will return.
Coming to a new place has been such a blessing for me and, also, spiritually unique. Everyone says it’ll be the time of my life. In many ways it has and in many ways it absolutely has not. Instead, it’s been a mirror. A mirror of my sin, a window into my heart. You can run from a lot of things, but I’ve learned in these last two months, you cannot run from yourself. Let me back up and explain.
When I was 14 years old, my mom left. She got married and moved away. Just before this time I bounced back and forth between her and my dad, but for most of my life I lived with her. She was my parent. While I love him, my dad at that time in my life can be best described as an every other weekend dad physically, financially faithful, and emotionally absent. When my mom told me she was moving to Texas, I had no idea how to feel, but nevertheless I learned something that day: people leave. I spent the next 9-10 years of my life working really hard to make that lesson of my life no longer true.
I’ll be good enough.
I will measure up.
I will make myself worth loving and keeping.
It was CRIPPLING, and exhausting, and I never want to go back to that place. At about 24 years old, I found some freedom in Christ. I wrote part of Isaiah 43:1-4 in the Message translation on paper and taped up next to my bed, willing myself to believe it.
“...Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end -
Because I am GOD, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you… That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”
This scripture brought me through a really hard place.
Yet, it didn’t bring me out.
From the moment my mom left, I have always wanted one thing: approval. It is the idol I must continue to bring to the altar and ask Jesus to take. It is the deep desire that sneaks up on me and drives my directions.
Insert present day Moniqua, in beautiful Barcelona.
Meeting all these new people at once is so hard. I want them all to like me. I need them to know that I’m worth being here - or at least that’s the lie I can tell myself. I want to achieve, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing - until it becomes a bit too much, like today.
I didn’t feel well today. Not terrible, but not great. I had a migraine last night and I woke up just feeling MEH. But you know what? Show must go on. So I go to work, and I attempt to power through, except insert a slight problem: I work with Spirit filled people who see right through your mask. And see right through it, Krista did.
Have you ever met someone with the spiritual gift of discernment? Krista is just DEEP, all the time. When she talks, you can tell she spends a lot of time and intimacy with the Lord. It isn’t for show, but when she speaks, it’s as if your spirit is drawn to what she says. She’s in a program to be a biblical counselor, which essentially means she spends a lot of time studying people and she’s too wise for the fake it til you make it crowd.
Krista and my boss Marla encouraged me to go home and get some rest, but I’m like “I have too much to do”. I have Spanish today for two hours, a church event tonight, etc. Krista asked me if she could tell me something, and I said “Please, don’t”. My flesh did NOT want whatever biblical wisdom was about to come. She ignored my wishes.
The conversation went something like this:
Krista: Mo, [takes a deep breath and pauses] I see you as someone who serves with excellence. You want to perform. You desire to do things well. But I need you to know that He (Jesus) has you, even when you don’t. You can rest and He can handle it. He still wants you when you aren’t excellent”.
Mo: *bursts into tears*
I’m embarrassed because we’re in the office but I can’t stop it because she spoke to my small voice. She spoke life into the remnants of the 14 year old still trying to perform enough to make herself worth it.
This was hours ago and I’m still pondering it, feeling very tender. I crossed an ocean but I didn’t leave that little girl behind. And yet I know, his Word still remains true. He has redeemed me. He’s called my name. I am his. When I’m in over my head, he will be with me.
Today, I can rest.
I’m not sure who needs this, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with needing to be approved of. Let me go first and tell you to share it with community. Allow people to go deep and remind you of God’s truth. It’s scary (trust me, I know, I’m sharing it with all of you!) but it is freeing.
Father, I surrender all of my heart to you. The good things, the bad things, and these deep things I wish that no one had to see. I pray you would continue to speak to the messy places of my heart, and I thank you for giving me your Church who sees beyond the facade. I pray you would help us all go deep with one another. Help us not to hide our mess, but to embrace the parts of our story we wish we could rewrite, knowing that you are the true Author who made no mistakes in your design. You are a grand and magnificent God. And yet still you are intimate and personal. I thank you today for being close.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.