“You are worthless.” “All you do is disappoint people.” “You will never be enough.”
These are the demons in my head. And in the minds of the children we serve. Rich or poor, Satan wants to entrap us. For the children we serve, Satan wants to convince them that the absence of material wealth equals the absence of love from a Heavenly Father. For those of us in the developed world, that negative voice might be just as loud, but for different reasons.
Years ago, I began making agreements with evil. I listened to these voices spouting hatred at me, these voices saying there was nothing special about me. Believing the lies led to crippling despair.
All I could think about was how bad I am. Shame overwhelmed. I felt trapped inside of myself.
All I could do was lie on the couch, watching the beautiful and exciting people on TV. Criticizing myself that my life wasn’t as interesting as the characters I saw, or that I could never fit into an actress’s tiny dress.
“What if I opened the clenched hands wide to receive all that is? A life that receives all of God in this moment?
How do you do that when the terror tears up your throat and you wear the burn scars of a razed past?” ~Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts
As I read Ann’s book, I feel like I’m sitting with a dear friend. Her words intrigue and encourage. She has discovered the key to joy and contentment: the discipline of thanksgiving.
By giving thanks for all that God offers, I am able to see beyond myself. Small things that might otherwise go unnoticed. But through gratitude, I have fresh eyes to see God’s generous heart.
Through my new, open eyes, I see fear loosen its grip. Self-hate has no room to speak. I see Christ everywhere! He is in these big and small things, whispering His love. I write in my gratitude journal:
- Pale pinks in a morning sky
- The utter silence of falling snow
- Gold ribbon
- Forehead kisses
- A cozy, old sweatshirt
My chains begin to fall away. The key of thanksgiving has unlocked my inner prison of self-hatred. Feelings of fear and self-doubt are replaced with hope and expectancy.
Instead of feeling trapped by personal inadequacy, I learn to believe in the promise that God is for me and with me.
I pray our Compassion kids feel this same wellspring of hope when the cycle of poverty is broken in their families.
Through One Thousand Gifts, the Lord is taking me on a journey to experience more of all He has wants to offer. To not settle for a life of complaint but to jump into a life of joy.