Some of the "dirt" that I've rediscovered lately is my problem with "finding my identity in Christ". For me that has always been one of those Christian phrases that is slapped on as the solution to a lot of problems but that nobody really understands or knows how to apply! At least my experience was that even though I knew I needed to work on "finding my identity in Christ" I couldn't seem to connect emotionally or practically to the idea. So a couple of months ago I prayed with a woman in Princeton. That time helped me to realize that the sense of identity I felt so lacking was connected to my father dying (which of course, I already knew) but in a way I could understand. She encouraged me to remember how it felt when my dad was around- and there was this sense of "I'm really special because my dad is SO cool and he loves ME." I felt a sense of identity and significance b/c this awesome guy delighted in me and called me his own. It was this feeling of "I'm with him...I"m a somebody because I'm a Miller." There wasn't anything I could do to earn his love...he simply loved me, Hannah, and therefore anything I did (ie. sing) was special. The things I did were not what gave me his love- I can't stress that enough. He loved me simply because I was his.
Understanding how I felt about Dad helped me understand why I so desperately needed a boyfriend after my father died of whom I could say "I'm a somebody because I'm with HIM- this cool guy who everyone likes has chosen ME to call his own". I found someone else to give me identity other than my father. But the whole reason that FATHERS (not boyfriends) are supposed to make us feel that way is b/c God created them to teach us about HIS unconditional love for us and the way we ultimately find our identity in HIM, our True Father. The other major problem with my "boyfriend solution" is that unlike the love of my father, I had to "earn" the love of a boyfriend- I had to do certain things to please him or "keep" him, and I had to compete with other girls. So as long as I'm hoping to find identity and significance in a boyfriend I'm ultimately going to remain insecure, b/c no boyfriend (or even husband for that matter!) can truly love me in the unconditional way that is needed in order for me to be totally secure. What happens if he breaks up with me, has an affair, disengages from our relationship, dies, or just disappoints me by being a broken, sinful person? This is why even children with healthy, loving fathers who DON'T die end up needing to transfer this "sense of identity" because children grow up and realize "my dad is just a person, he's not superman like I once thought".
Given this new pattern of relating and "earning" identity, it made sense that I no longer knew how to relate to God as Father, because God's love can't be earned. It can't be competed for- I'm not going to feel God's love for me by being "better" than the next person because that's not a condition of His love. I'm not going to have to do certain things "right" to receive His love and if I try to ignore it, He's going to come after me until I let down whatever wall I've put up and let Him in! This is what is happening. For a long time I've sort of "put aside" God's love for me so I could focus on God's love for other people. Maybe this was my way of trying to earn God's affection and a "place in His family"...maybe it was b/c what I needed most was what made me most uncomfortable. Maybe I was afraid of opening my heart again to "Father" and being hurt again, feeling rejected again.
But lately God has been coming after me anyway. He's reactivated a part of my heart that has been turned off for a long time, subconsciously "shut down"- by showing me His Fatherhood. Reminding me that the love of Father is not earned and is not "kept" by being winsome or wonderful. It's simply given to me because I am His.
I don't have to come to God with a question for someone else or an "item of business" in order to talk to Him...I don't have to manipulate in order to be with Him. This week it hit me that God just wants to be with me. Period. No agenda, no accomplishments, no "reason" to legitimize my visit. He delights in me. In the same way I could simply walk into my daddy's room as a little girl and crawl up next to him, I can be with my Heavenly Father because He loves me apart from what I do for Him.
In the movie Sybil, a motherless girl struggles even in adulthood to find healing. She's so afraid of more hurt that she's unable to realize that what she needs most- a mother's touch- is available to her in the friendship of Dr. Wilbur, the female psychiatrist who meets with her every week. Sybil always wants to spend time with Dr. Wilbur, but she always has her "professional" reason- her counseling appointment. It's not until the end of the movie that Sybil finally ASKS for what she so desperately needs- a motherly hug- the moment Dr. Wilbur had been waiting for. Healing took place the moment Sybil opened her heart enough to ask for it.
This is how God my Father loves me. He is ever present, faithfully loving me all the while as I slowly, so painfully slowly learn to trust Him enough to unclench my fists and reach out for His open hands...the moment He's been waiting for. The moment He has patiently led me to.