by Megan Johnson
What if the greatest lie that Satan whispers to us is: ‘prove yourself’?
~ Ann Voskamp
It’s officially summer! Summer brings freedom. Or does it?
I don’t know about you, but for me, how I parent can be a major proving ground, an idol, and an identity maker. What a burden to live under! Just when I think I’m free from some of that, during the summer months, I’m quickly overwhelmed with ideas for activity charts, chore schedules, and ways to make this summer the most amazing one ever. Whew! All of this drains me pretty quickly and I’m left wondering: am I enough to be my kids’ Mom if I can’t even *think* about all these things without panicking?
If you’ve been around me lately, you might have heard me talk about the rhythm I have each morning to anchor my soul in truth before the day begins. Because I know my heart (that it will bow to many idols and I will quickly seek to find worth, identity, and approval from created things rather than the Creator), I get down on my knees, every morning, before King Jesus. Each morning, I climb down on the hard, cold floor to confess that I am not the Creator, Judge, King, or Savior. I have a small, wooden gavel and I literally hold it over my head as I speak aloud God’s true verdict over me. I remind myself I do not need to live in the courtroom of comparison and condemnation today. I need a physical reminder of what I get to live under (and out of)! I kneel and confess that God is my Father, my King, my Judge, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Savior. AND… He delights in me – overwhelming so!!! (Zephaniah 3:17, Romans 8:1)
I no longer have to strive or prove myself. But I repent of this daily.
I no longer live in the courtroom of comparison or condemnation. Although, by my negative thoughts about myself, you wouldn’t know that.
I am not locked in a prison cell. Although, I place myself there through guilt and shame too often.
Oh, how I am prone to believe lies – to put my value in what I think about how I am doing at “fill-in-the-blank”, and to live for a verdict instead of out of the verdict.
Maybe you can relate.
If you are a son or daughter of God, then it is for freedom that Christ has set you free. You don’t have to go back to the yoke of the slavery of proving yourself by doing all. the. things! (1 Corinthians 4:3, Galatians 5:1, John 8:31-36)
There are all kinds of great ideas for things to do over the summer. If it is life-giving and freeing for you to look at all those ideas (and make the lists, and the banners, and the schedules, and charts, and all the things), go for it! But if that drains you of energy and abundant life, lay it down! Does it feel like a heavy burden or does it feel light and easy? (Matthew 11:28)
Your kids need you to be you. God gave them YOU with your imperfections, flaws, unique wiring and gifts, and personality. Do you live under the verdict of “not _____ enough”? The best gift you can offer your kids is to daily receive grace and live under the verdict of “this is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
We can’t offer to our kids what we are refusing to receive. I wonder how our refusal to receive grace from our Elder Brother, who died for us to be his Beloved, affects how we see, love, and parent our kids…
That verdict has nothing to do with my successes or failures during the day. When I hope in my success (and place my worth there), that just means I have to do it better tomorrow; and the risk of failure is even greater. The truth is, God will do more with my weakness than my apparent strength. He will use my failures more than my successes. When I believe this, then I’m free to parent from abundance and rest.
When we wake up in the morning, before we’ve accomplished anything – the verdict is in. When we go to bed at night, no matter what the day held (or how well we think we did) – the verdict is in. We can ask Jesus to let his verdict over us speak louder than our own verdict over ourselves. Our most authentic and truest identity is that of a beloved son or daughter of God. Receive it. Live out of it!
I am praying for you.
PS – Summer is a time when we tend to get out of our normal rhythms, and that’s okay! It’s a good time to intentionally pick something different to anchor our souls in the truths of the Gospel. I’m switching to using a daily devotional (Truth For Life by Alistair Begg), instead of a more intense study (or *thinking* I’ll make a plan for myself and then – honestly! – not doing anything intentional and purposeful.) I also recommend New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. Text, email, call, or come find me if you want more ideas for encouragement, want prayer, or hearing about my weaknesses and God’s provision!