Last week, we looked at the lies Satan plants in our minds that undermine the purposes God has for us, and the TRUTH He wants us to live by! Believing that lie distorts our worldview, and taints God’s true intent for our lives. In response, we feel the need to hustle and hide behind facades for love/acceptance. God asked Adam, “Where are you?” not because He didn’t know where he was physically, but because He wanted Adam to be real and honest with where he was at:
"but the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" // genesis 3:9
But at some point, we have to get out from behind the bushes, and continue on with our life. We have to go see our friends, go to church events, go to work so we can make money, go to school, etc. Not only did Adam and Eve hide from the presence of God, but when they eventually came out of hiding, they sewed fig leaves together to cope with their shame- to be in a habitual state of disguise.
[following the eating of the forbidden fruit]
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” // genesis 3:7
At first they hid because they felt naked and exposed in their inadequacies but then they had to cover themselves to be able to “live with” their new feelings of insecurity- as do we all (side note: the shame that is a result of our sin often also disrupts the intimacy between relationship/friendships, in addition to our relationship with God). They felt the need to cover their most vulnerable parts from each other, and from God, with an unsustainable material because they feared ridicule and rejection.
To be completely transparent, this mindset has frequently manifested itself very prominently in my life. It was a strongly held belief of mine (engrained within my family life and the society I was entrenched in) that the way you look is a direct reflection of your character/value. I learned to judge people and assume their lives were a certain way based on their looks; “Wow, they must be unhappy, lazy, not care about themselves, etc.” because they didn’t measure up to the standards I held myself to. But, when it finally came to my own appearances, that’s exactly what I assumed other people thought of me. I was unwilling to be perceived as anything less than perfect, to cover up my ACTUAL feelings of inadequacy. I know this isn’t an uncommon thought process, but this is how it looked specifically for me.
For some, maybe you hide in your success, others maybe wealth, grades, fitness, relationships. You think, “Well, as long as I am ____ people will think highly of me, love me, or see value in me.”
Sooner or later, though, we must up the ante, our mirage fades and we must change the covering because it’s withering and unable to withstand the weight of our shame.
At that point, everything stops and our image still doesn’t identify with what we deem to be valuable. Maybe you’re finally at your goal weight but you still feel overweight, or that new car that made you feel so cool at first doesn’t feel so nice anymore, or maybe you were valedictorian in high school or summa cum laude in college and still don’t feel smart, accomplished or loved enough. Maybe you’re one, two, or even three degrees into your education and it still doesn’t feel enough for your career or family. Maybe it’s having a TON of friendships, or going through multiple relationships and still not feeling sufficiently loved. You’ve accomplished everything you’ve set your mind to but still don’t feel complete. You have everything you have ever wanted but still feel unsuccessful.
We tend to use experiences and people to fuel our need for validation and to prove that we AREN’T actually what Satan told us we were. However, time and time again nothing is sufficient and we are again left with our bare, exposed being.
Personally, I tried so hard to manipulate my body into perfection that I caused myself harm for over 8 years with an eating disorder. There were times when my new “lower weight” fulfilled me, but most times I would have to find a new goal to sustain my need for security, validation, and control. At the end of every day, the momentary security was short-lived and was ripped out from under me. I could no longer hide behind the mask of “being perfect”. I felt that my shortcomings were laid bare for all to see (especially when I gained weight, or even just thought I did). I felt like every roll or piece of flab was a reason for someone to ridicule and reject me, for them to confirm my fear of unworthiness.
Honestly, there finally came a time where I just had to stop (not that it’s just that easy), but we all have to decide to stop covering up our insecurities and our true identity with withering leaves.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
// II corinthians 12:10
It’s only until we realize the extent of God’s GRACE and love that those mechanisms (that we use to cope with our insecurities) can come crumbling down.
You CAN come out from behind the bushes, uncovered and stand before God blameless and confident, knowing that IN your shame (NOT after, NOT with fig leaves covering yourself) He will then: ACCEPT you (exactly the way you are), LAVISH your imperfections with his STRENGTH, & CLOTHE you in His love and sacrifice, making us all COMPLETELY without shame or guilt, because He paid the price. He will cover us with a non perishable, living flesh that died on our behalf (Jesus). He is the only perfect covering!!
So what does that look like on a practical standpoint? For me, it began with being honest with myself and God with where I was at. What would you say to God if He asked you, “Where are you?”; acknowledging what lies you believed that caused you to hide, AND cover up your insecurities with a withering substance. Maybe it’s purposefully posting pictures on Instagram to get a certain amount of "likes, comments, DMs" (aka validation that you’re ___) to temporarily bandage the gaping wound of unworthiness. Maybe it’s fueling your need for admiration through broken relationships and toxic friendships, or like me, an eating disorder to cope with my need for a perceived perfection and control. It wasn’t until I realized why this problem was so deep for me, that I could approach God bare, and confident so He could heal me from Satan’s lie that that's what I needed to be to be accepted. Reading His words and listening to His voice first and foremost was a crucial part of fully accepting myself exactly the way He created me to be- quirks and rolls and all!
Know that His grace has the power to turn YOUR deficiencies into His most effective tool to show people who He is!
we love you, we're with you!!
1 thes. 2:8
because we love you so much, we are delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well