You have heard it said that desperate times call for desperate measures. Well, I was desperate. Eighteen years old and about to start a new chapter of my life, I walked onto the campus of the Rand Afrikaans University with new hope. These were going to be the best years of my life. There was a kind of freedom in the air. I was no longer constrained by the school bell or my ever tightening-uniform.
My new schedule meant that I had plenty of time to study or socialise in the cafeteria and I spent many hours waiting for my next class or for my friends to finish their lessons. It was 1995 and we did not have the gift of smart phone technology or social media, but I did have another addiction that would nudge me on the shoulder when waiting became uncomfortable. I would eat.
With six years of yo-yo dieting already under my belt, I knew that I was heading down a slippery slope that would take me where I really did not want to go. Already not happy with the way I looked and watching all the young, beautiful girls walk around on campus, seeing the attention that many of them reveived, made me look for an alternative drug of choice. Cheeseburgers were not going to help, but I could fill the void with a ciggie or two, I reckoned. By then I had tried every diet, pill, injection, patch, therapy, even surgery and nothing worked, so what did I have to lose?
Being the pastor’s eldest and most responsible daughter, I made sure to hide my new habit as best I could, but it wasn’t long until my little sister found a wonderful opportunity to dim the light that was casting the shadow she was living under. She knew something was off and followed me to a park near our house. She watched as I sat on the swing and lit up my new found hope of skinniness. Through the exhaled smoke I saw her little feet run as fast as a squirrel up a tree, towards our house. I knew my time was up. I had been found out and I was about to feel the consequences of my poor decision.
By the time I made it home, my father was ready. He had some time to prepare (I might have been dragging my feet a little on the way home). As I was summoned into my bedroom, I prayed for the rapture to come. I couldn’t tell what the worst part was – having to reach towards a cigarette because I couldn’t stop eating or disappointing my dad? Head hanging low, I walked into my room and sat on the bed. My dad sat down next to me. I waited for the verdict. After what felt like an eternity, he finally said:
“Meliza, this is not who you are.”
What? No disappointment? No ridicule, punishment or shame? I started to cry unconsolably, but somehow my heart felt a little lighter. My father was less bothered about a bad habit, than about me trying to hide my struggle from him. He understood that I was struggling and he wanted to help.
Those seven words did something miraculous to me: it lifted me out of the shame of my mistake. It was a seed planted in my heart that would grow into a revelation of my true identity as a daughter of God. I am often reminded of that very moment, when I feel shame knocking at the door of my heart. When I have messed up and settled for something that was not meant to be my portion (my inheritance), I now have the ability to recognise it and say: “This is not for me. This is not who I am.”
Our Heavenly Father loves to do the same for us when we miss the mark. It is in our moments of greatest weakness that he wants us to come to Him. He is not that bothered about our bad habits. He is more troubled by the fact that we’re hiding from Him. He doesn’t want us to struggle on our own, but turn to Him for the help we need. He wants to heal our hearts and see us live in wholeness and freedom.
Jesus did this very thing for Peter as He met him on the shore of Galilee, after Peter betrayed Him. I cannot imagine the shame Peter must have felt as he sat in his fishing boat – back at square one. This was the place where the old Simon Peter was first recruited. Followed by three years of walking with Jesus, dreaming about the glorious future as the Messiah would rescue His people from oppression. Now the dream was over. Jesus was dead. And Peter, the Rock, the one who pledged to die for his Messiah, couldn’t even stand up to be counted when the going got tough.
Yet, there on the shore stood the resurrected Messiah, the friend of Peter, Jesus – building a fire and waiting for Peter. Not with punishment, ridicule or shame. Waiting to restore Peter. To establish him in his true identity and get him back on track so that he could live out his divinely ordained purpose. (*John 21)
Over breakfast with Jesus, on the beach, Peter is lifted out of the pit of despair. Affirmed as a friend. The unstable one of the group is called to be a firm foundation and commissioned to do the work he had always been created for.
Beautiful friend, what is that weakness that keeps messing with your identity? That thing that keeps trying to disqualify you from the good plans and glorious purpose that God has for your life? Can I encourage you to come out of hiding? You do not belong in the pit of despair. This is not for you. This is not who you are.
You are the beloved child of the Most High, deeply loved and treasured. You have the same power in you that raised Jesus from the dead. You have dreams planted in your heart for a purpose. You are destined to overcome. Freedom is your birth right.
It’s time to lift your head.
There is no punishment, ridicule or shame for you.
Only restoration and freedom. A great commission awaits.
You’re invited for breakfast with Jesus.
So now we draw near freely and boldly to where grace is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.
Hebrews 4:16 TPT
Beautiful friend, you do not need to allow your failure to disqualify you or direct the course of your life. You can turn those moments of epic failure into encounters with a God who loves you and created you for a purpose. He dreamed you into existence and designed you with intention. Your destiny is secure when you walk with Him.
If you are interested in learning how to turn your greatest weakness into your glorious purpose, I love to invite you to join me on the 25th of June 2021 for a live, interactive workshop where I will teach you how to practically walk out this truth. (Sign up here.)
It’s time to run boldly into His arms.
It’s time to walk in your true identity and purpose.
Today, I see Jesus sitting on the other side of the fire as we’re having breakfast on the beach:
“My Chosen One. A million failures cannot rewrite the dreams I have for you. Keep coming back to the fire, come and receive what you need when things are difficult. When you feel like your strength is gone, let me be the source of your life. My heart is strong enough to sustain you. Rest in me and let me love you. Don’t try so hard, but let me love through you. I am your true identity and purpose. Your glorious inheritance. And you, Beloved, are mine.” ❤