Today is the happiest day of my life.
Today, I realized that in all my life, I have never been able to accept or love myself because I have been measuring myself against my mother. What I am about to share in no way detracts from all the wonderful ways she has loved and taught me. But somehow, I had learned to see myself as good when I measure up to her standards, and lacking when I don’t. And so it is that even while I consciously recognized that I was different from her and I should be able to accept myself, in my subconscious I rejected myself in the ways I failed to be like her.
If I was more easy-going than her, I felt it was because I was not serious or responsible enough. If I was more passionate or emotional, I felt it was because I was too immature to control my feelings. My entire life, I have lived with the subliminal message replaying in my head that I am less good than my mother because I could never measure up to her discipline, rationality, infinite ability to self-sacrifice and will-power.
When I was growing up, I never knew how to view myself except in comparison with my mother and through the feedback I received from her. Eventually that extended to the feedback and response from other people in my life – teachers, classmates, friends. No wonder even in my primary school days, I remember the longing to find just one person, one friend, who could understand me completely and love me for who I am. I had such a longing because I did not know how to love myself – and desperately wished someone would show me how.
Zibin has often told me that the reason he fell in love with me was because I was pure in heart. But I never understood that – I felt lucky that he thought so, but I didn’t believe I had such goodness in me. Last year, during Alpha Course, a woman who has often had prophetic images of the person she prayed over told me that when she prayed over me she felt deeply the purity of my heart. My response then was relief and gratitude that God had shielded my ugliness from her. It never occurred to me, nor would I have been able to believe, that what she saw was really how God saw me – pure in heart. That showed how deeply I failed to experience and receive God’s love for me.
Today all that changed. Zibin had taken the day off and we spent a wonderful day talking, reading together at a cafÃ©, visiting Serena and Hannah, shopping, and more long hours of conversation. As I shared what I was going through with him and as we went over how we have changed and grown in the last 10 years together, I was given the great insight I have been praying for. God showed me how to see myself.
I suddenly saw that I had been blinded by the false belief that I had to become a certain way in order to be loved by God. I suddenly saw that God never wanted me to be more like my mother in any way. He had created me perfect in His eyes – but I had been too busy trying to become somebody else to discover the Ann He had created and delights so much in. I realized that I have been hiding from God in shame from all the failures I felt I had accumulated – ‘failures’ from measuring up to a standard I was never meant to use as a benchmark.
In my confusion, I have become accustomed to seeking external validation for reassurance that I am ‘measuring up’. I could have no internal validation because I never really knew what the standard was. I always believed that I needed to strive to be ‘better’ – and no matter what I achieved, I could always do better. The mark was always out of reach, no matter how close I came. Approvals gave me instant relief that never lasted and criticism and rejection reinforced my belief that I was not good enough to be loved. Because my self-doubt was so great, I clung to praises and the strengths I saw in myself while criticisms and weaknesses were glossed over as lightly as possible because I was terrified of losing my tenuous hold to self-esteem.
But today, God gave me the grace to break free of the false belief that had enslaved me. Today is the first time I could understand and believe that the most precious gift God gave me when He created me was a pure heart. Today is the first time I can believe that EVERY thing about me was not a mistake – my sensitivity, passion, spontaneity – and everything I had subconsciously rejected as flaws were intricately carved into my being with loving detail by God to serve His purpose and to bring Him joy.
My self-rejection had been the source of the insecurity and destruction in my life. How could I be able to hear God’s call or receive my mission when I reject the very powers He has given me to serve Him?
Finally I understand! Finally I can see myself as I was always meant to be. Suddenly I can let go of my fears and insecurities and be able to trust that I AM worthy of love! Not by anything I ever did or could ever do – but JUST AS I AM. And in realizing this, for the first time in 10 years, I could understand and really trust in why Zibin loves me. It is not in anything I did or could ever do for him – it is because I am ME.
Only now do I experience what it means that I am God’s BELOVED child. I am perfect and beautiful in His sight because of all He has done for me.
Today I rise unshackled and free and I bask in my Father’s love for the first time without shame.
Today is my Liberation Day.