I have been playing the song “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave over and over and over again the past couple of weeks. It’s a song I’ve listened to many times, and really enjoyed – I like their music generally. But we used a video in church recently as part of our worship set dealing with the idea of redemption and it featured this song – and on the platform that Sunday, I heard this line as if for the first time:
All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
And, oh my heart was pierced. Because I have carried that hurt around for a long time.
In that moment, I heard the voice of my father, telling me – over and over – that I would never live up to my potential. I heard the voice of a much loved pastor telling me he’d done his best but he just couldn’t be a steward of my gifts any more because of my failures. I heard the voices of people through the years who have found my big personality and passionate approach to life in general just a little too much to deal with, who have found me too much… or not enough. Who have found me wanting.
I am deeply grateful to have walked through a season of fire in the last 18 months or so, when God literally burned out of me the desire for approval. It was a painful process – oh was it ever! – but on the other side of it has been complete freedom. For the first time in my life, I understand what it really means to be free in Christ, to embrace my frailty and failings and know that in Him they are met with grace and love and compassion (which is not the same as empathy, by the way). And, too, I am able to embrace my gifts and my abilities and unapologetically step out in them – not in arrogance or entitlement, but in gratitude and excitement. God made me, and He made me for a purpose, and the passion and big personality some people find fault with are part of how He has equipped me to do the things I’m called to. There is freedom in knowing – in really believing – that I will never be too much or not enough for God, and that He will never leave me where I am.
But that morning, listening to those words, I realized how deeply the wounds go and how tender the scars even after the passage of time. I was reminded that while I am free, I am not yet healed and whole, that those sore places in my spirit need tending so they don’t fester. And I heard God telling me it was time to let it go – to do the work and let it go.
So I’m working on forgiveness. I’m working on grace. I’m working on putting the past to rest and loving the ones whose voices have played on that endless, hurtful loop in my head, even as I firmly press the stop button and eject the tape.
Because I am redeemed. And God isn’t done with me yet, even if others are.