We can be much better cheerleaders for others than for ourselves. We will support our friends through their most difficult times. We will stand behind our children or grandchildren in their challenges and as they seek to find their place in this world. We know that God has a plan and a purpose for them and it is good. We will pray for them and love them, no matter where they may find themselves. We watch them stumble and we beam with pride as they pick themselves up and go one more time. When they stumble and struggle, we are there to encourage them. We believe in them. We know they are capable of good things. We see the beauty and the strength – even when they have no idea. We will never give up on them. But we don’t treat ourselves the same.
It can be that in becoming an encourager of others, we forget to encourage ourselves. I am not talking about a false sense of pride. I am not talking about a “look at me and how good I am” type of encouragement. We don’t encourage others in that way. When we see potential in other people, we try to help them find their best. We try to help them live out what God has given them. We try to direct them in the way that God has created. But we don’t always do this for ourselves. We don’t always look in the mirror and see potential. We see flaws. We see reasons we can’t. We see the things which hold us back. We see every reason not to do something. We know things about ourselves no one else does. And so we end up encouraging others while beating ourselves up. We end up uplifting others and tearing ourselves down. And God has called us to something different. If only we knew what God knows about us – we might see potential in those eyes. We might see love in our heart. We may see joy in our smile. We might just see God at work – in us.
But if only they knew… I wonder how many times we think or say that to ourselves. If only they knew what my past looks like. If only they knew how many times I have tried. If only they knew how many times I have messed up. If only they knew. Yet, the only “they” who matters is God. And here’s a fact – he already knows. God knows and God still believes in you. God still has a plan and a purpose for you. God has not left you because of who you were. God has not deserted you because of the things you did. God sees something incredible in you and is just waiting for you to live it out. He hasn’t given up on you – so why have you given up on you?
Whenever I am struggling with who God would have me to be – or struggling with my place in this world – or just struggling with me in general – I turn to this scripture. This particular Psalm says more to me about who I am than any other I know. It also gives me encouragement to see someone different in the mirror. I am given courage to look beyond the flaws and see the man God has created. I see more because God shows me more.
Psalm 139:1-18 – Hear God speak life over you.
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
The Psalmist concludes with:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
God sees , God knows, God hears and God is with us. Yet God does not leave us. He does not give up on us. He does not dismiss us. He does not throw us into the trash heap because we are not good enough.
We are encouraged to look for the perfect in life. We are encouraged to only take the best and to dismiss the rest. But we miss so much when we do. In our home, we have fruits and veggies sent to us from the dismissed. In other words, the fruits and veggies that are imperfect – those that farmers cannot sell in the store – are packaged and sent out. When we go to the grocery store, we look for the absolute best fruit and will not take one that has a mark on it. There is nothing wrong with it, we just want the best. So the fruits and veggies that are marked or didn’t grow perfectly become waste. We want the best and expect the best and seek out only the best. Yet, the rest of the produce is just fine. It may not be pleasing to our eyes, but it is just as good to our stomachs – where it really matters. But we are conditioned to only take the best. And it happens that way in our own lives too.
We dismiss the good in us because we don’t feel like we are the best at something. We don’t want to pursue something because we may be just okay. We don’t see God at work in us because we have bruises and imperfections. Yet, God sees so much more. He doesn’t care about all that stuff. He sees good. He sees possibility. He sees opportunity. He created you for something amazing – amazing in his eyes, not the worlds. We have to change our vision. We need correction to see the possibilities. We must stop seeing the reasons why not and see what God is up to. We may see a completely different person – loved and called by God.
God has not given up on you. That I can promise you. He sees someone that he created and he loves. He is encouraging you to follow, serve, and live out all that he has for you. This isn’t about – “look at me and all I have done” – but rather “look at what God is doing.” God has something good – and it just may be looking you in the mirror. Let’s move forward, children of God. There is work to be done.