Editor’s Note: Nonprofit Servant Leadership Coordinator Mercedes Matthews reflects on the truth that all too often, we get caught up in our own insecurities and can’t manage to see ourselves the way God sees us.
In Spring 2015 I was part of a parish mission trip to visit orphanages in Nicaragua. Most simply, our mission was to make the children feel loved. At Mustard Seed Communities, children live with varying degrees of physical and intellectual disabilities, which make it unlikely that they’ll see much of the world. Through groups like ours, the world is brought to them.
It was so easy to appreciate God’s love abiding in each of the children. At the same time, I was surprised by my struggle to recognize this same truth within myself. Although immersed in expressions of joy and mercy, I was still holding onto this very certain feeling of being a fraud. I didn’t belong, and for so many reasons, I wasn’t the right person to take up space.
I began to wonder why God had allowed me to be there in the first place. Who was I and what did I have to offer? I wasn’t knowledgeable about children, I didn’t speak Spanish, and I just couldn’t be as outgoing as the others. I felt so unworthy to be in the children’s presence when others were more loving, more fun, and in my mind, just better for them to be around. Why couldn’t I “be better”?
There is so much of me that wants to do/say/be the right thing, to know what’s next and what’s needed and respond accordingly. During this trip, none of that was happening. Living from this place of fear and insecurity was saddening and isolating.
Halfway through the trip, as we traveled to another home a few cities over, I was still clinging to my inadequacies. Rather than engaging with my fellow passengers all I could do that morning was stare out the window, watch the country go by, and (unsuccessfully) hold back the tears.
It was by looking at the scenery that I caught a glimpse of a bright orange structure with clear back graffiti. The inscription that someone had written on the abandoned building and that God was now writing on my heart was “I still love you.” This one line of providential scribble was an invitation to let go of all the doubt I had been holding onto.
God’s love for me and my ability to love others was not diminished by the ways I didn’t measure up or the shortcomings I felt. I learned to let go of a perception of myself that was based on comparison and judgement. For the rest of the trip I was still more reserved than others and obviously I still didn’t know Spanish, yet my fear was diminished.
This reminder that God’s love is so much greater than any of our flaws now filled the space in my life and was the higher truth I chose to live within. When I let go of living from my insecurities I knew deeply the freedom of living in God’s unfailing affection.
Reflection Questions: How can I recognize God’s unfailing love for me? For others? Do I allow my insecurities get in the way of knowing God’s love?