This morning, while reading my Bible, I had a memory pop into my head.
When I was a teen, before I knew anything of God, I made MANY poor choices. These choices included shoplifting. One morning, before school, a friend of mine and I went to a local store. I’m not sure why, but that morning I decided I didn’t want to take anything. My friend and I had separated, and when we came back together, she had a pack of cigarettes that I had assumed she had bought. She asked me to put them in my purse. I did and we left.
As we left the store, a very angry manager came running after us and asked to see my purse. I knew I didn’t take anything so I immediately emptied it for him. That’s when I understood. My friend had not paid for the cigarettes.
In the moment that followed, so many thoughts quickly ran through my mind. I could see my friend was terrified. I knew of her home life. I knew of her father’s anger and how uncontrolled it could quickly become. I knew my father. He was kind and patient and slow to anger. I knew that I could take the blame in this moment, but when I told my father later, he would believe me and help me figure out what to do. So, in a moment of compulsive compassion, I took the blame.
When I look back, I can’t say I now feel this was the wisest choice. The manager was very angry. I spent the day in the police station, giving prints and having my photo taken. It went to court and I can only imagine how stressful it was for my parents. But this morning I am reminded of my Dad.
He did trust me, even with my previous record of wrongs. From the moment my stepmom (who really should receive angel status for what I put her through during those years) picked me up from the police station until the day it was resolved in court, I never felt doubted. I knew that he believed me. He may not have agreed with the choice I made, but he believed me.
I believe this experience has led to one of my deepest beliefs about God. Throughout the years, like everyone else I know, I have felt unfairly judged at times. I have felt less-than and weak. Many shadows from my past constantly hover, leaving feelings of shame and self-doubt. I struggle with not feeling like I measure up, or I fear what others think. And then, I return to this passage:
“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” Psalm 34:5
When I made that decision as a teen, the only person’s opinion that mattered to me was my father’s. I may not have made the wisest decision, but I made it completely based on who I believe my Dad to be, and the love he has for me.
Now, I am continuously reminded of the same things of my Father in heaven. God is kind and patient, not quick to anger, but finding every opportunity to love (2 Samuel 14:14). Even with my enormous record of wrongs, that He is VERY much aware of, He promises never to let my face be covered in shame. As often as I look to Him for help, He promises to rescue.
No matter how I view myself or what shadows lurk in my past or what judgments may exist, His opinion of me is the only one that matters.
And for some crazy, incomprehensible reason, taking my breath away but also somehow allows me to breathe again, He not only loves me, but He DELIGHTS in me. I do not understand, but I know it can be true because I’ve seen the glimmer of this truth in my own Dad’s heart.
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
(It seems like this post should have been saved for Father’s day, or some special occasion to let my Dad know how grateful I am for this memory. But, it popped into my mind today, just an ordinary Wednesday, and I couldn’t think of a better time to share it.)