Lois, a forty-five-year-old woman, had been a Christian for over twenty years. She came to us struggling with depression and a terrible self-image. When she experienced conflict, particularly with her husband, she blamed herself. Sometimes she would physically hurt herself out of self-directed hatred and anger.
A committed Christian for most of her adult life, Lois participated in Bible study groups and attended conferences on personal healing and on growing in intimacy with God. To the best of her ability, she put God first in her life.
Yet through all her years of following God, Lois had a fundamental problem: she didn’t know the true heart of the Father and the grace he offers. Of course she knew that it was only by grace that she had been saved, not by her own effort (Ephesians 2:8). However, this truth existed primarily in her mind, not her heart. Besides, it seemed more applicable to a person just coming to Christ than to someone who had followed Christ for many years. Like countless other Christians, Lois didn’t understand the real, too-good-to-be-true gospel, so of course she wasn’t living it out.
But in the course of the work that the Father did with Lois, she experienced a heart revelation of his grace. And that’s when everything began to change.
Lois’s journey into grace wasn’t simple. She first had to see the core lies that misaligned her heart and behaviors from God’s heart. She had to call upon his grace to touch childhood wounds that had significantly contributed to her distorted image of God, the gospel, and herself. Lois had to grieve. She had to forgive. She had to begin the process of embracing truth and rejecting lies, and she had to deal with destructive, toxic shame.
But as she partnered with God and walked with him into these places, he began to unfold his true beauty to her as well as allow her to see how beautiful she was to him.
There is a good, actually wonderful, part of Lois’s story of finding grace. But there is a sad part as well. The good part is the freedom that Lois is beginning to experience in her relationship with God. Her intimacy with him now is tremendous compared to the past. The bad part is that she has lived the bulk of her Christian experience without this freedom and intimacy.
Although Lois is elated with her new relationship as a grace-filled follower of Christ, she still has had to grieve the loss of living so many years without this freedom. She has also begun to experience the Father’s grief over his many children who do not truly know his heart. For many Christians—sold-out-for-God Christians, including leaders—live as Lois once did.
(Excerpt from our book, "The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself - New Expanded Edition")
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