Jesus loved me when…

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my brokenness lately, how flawed I am, how confused and difficult I’ve been in the past, how there have been far too many times I’ve been dramatic in my life. I am far too hard on myself. My friends say so. My husband and kids, too. I introspect. And I dig around unearthing all my faults.

I’m not sure why I do this.

It must be that I have a wrong belief that to be worthy and loved, I must prove my perfection. Have you ever felt that way? It’s goofy and wrong and impossible, but still I fall back to that. I must perform. Must do better. Must have perfect habits. Must check off all the lists–even spiritual ones.

So during one of those “happy” periods of introspection of late, the thought came: Jesus loved me when I was sixteen years old–a mess of a girl, wholly confused, longing for acceptance, pining for a boyfriend, trying to get all As. And yet? He loved me then.

Jesus loved me in college when my heart fell under the weight of my own story. When I cried-cried-cried so many times, asking questions no one could answer, praying prayers that bordered more on desperate than holy.

Jesus loved me when I lost my first baby to an ectopic pregnancy, when I shook an angry fist heavenward, declaring Him unloving.

Jesus loved me when my first daughter reached the milestone year of five years old, the year of my own sexual exploitation, when all those carefully stuffed down memories came raging back to the surface and I could barely breathe. I felt like I was swimming through darkness, and would the light ever come?

Jesus loved me as we moved across the country to a town I pronounced wrong, where all that was familiar to me had flown away. I mothered my children there, in loneliness. I wrote unpublished words in a sort of exiled obscurity. As our marriage rollicked and bent, Jesus loved me then.

Jesus loved me as we moved to Dallas so Patrick could enter seminary, be trained for ministry, when I had aspirations of writing full time, but very little time to do so. Money was tight, and I worried far too much (I’m ashamed to say), but still He loved me then, frailty and all.

Jesus loved me when we picked up and moved to France, all bright eyed and naive. He loved me as I dismantled, and my personality melted into the Mediterranean. He loved me as I questioned him, sunk into depression, and wasn’t the attentive in-the-moment mom I should’ve been. He loved me as I led worship in France, in another tongue, with unskilled guitar hands. He loved me as round after round after round of spiritual warfare pummeled me and my family. He loved me when we flew home for good, and I felt the weight of failure.

Jesus loved me through my first book contract–again I was wide eyed and naive and the world looked rosy with promise. And He continues to love me as I persevere and write more books. When I’ve battled jealousy and envy (oh I hate that I have, Jesus forgive me), He lovingly exposed me, and taught me more than I can write about in this space by sending trials my way. He taught me that success is an illusion, that the kingdom matters far more than my rank, and that gurus and techniques were not things for me to pursue. I fell flat on my face so many times in this journey, and yet, Jesus has loved me.

He loved me when I was naive and broken and young. And He loves me now as I face that cynicism that comes with life and age.

So I’m suddenly aware that His love has nothing to do with my perfection. In fact, I seemed to have understood it far more when my perfection fell into dust. All the trials. All the brokenness. All the painful relational strife. All the losses. In all those places of grief, He has loved me. And He has taught me resilience and grit and joy.

This week launching a podcast has, oddly, brought up all my insecurities. Laid them bare. And my tendency has been to beat myself over the heart with all the truth of my inadequacy. Instead, I’m fighting to change the way I view me. Instead, I’m choosing to believe that Jesus’ love for me has nothing to do with my perfection and everything to do with His sacrifice. His death on the cross nailed my worth. It secured my fortune. It empowered this broken girl. It’s constant. It’s true. It’s rock. It’s real. It cannot be shaken.

I will be shaken.

I will fall.

I will bend under the weight of my expectations and the expectations of others.

But Jesus? He is not bound by my insecurity. He is bound by love.

And He loved me when . . .