you is smart. you is kind. you is important.

the helpyesterday was oscar night; i was traveling so didn’t get to enjoy the party but always play my part in seeing as many of the movies as i can.  so many of you have probably read the help or at least seen the movie.  a friend reminded me of one of my favorite lines from it this week, the words of the black nanny telling the little girl she cared for:  “you is smart. you is kind.  you is important.” 

sadly, this little girl also received a powerful message from others in the her life that she wasn’t any of those three things.  her mother was caught up in christian activities, putting on a good face, and keeping up with the jones’.   passing on love & encouragement & acceptance weren’t her mother’s strong suits, and the nanny did whatever she could to make up for this lack.

when we’re honest, many people don’t feel smart, kind, or important.

many people don’t feel really secure.

many people don’t feel really loved.

sure, most can articulate “yeah, yeah, i know God loves me” but feeling and experiencing God’s love remains elusive.

we’re afraid to believe in ourselves.  we’re afraid of our passion.  we’re afraid of our gifts.  we’re afraid of goodness.

we are much more comfortable and familiar with our badness. our lack. our always-falling-short-ness. our so-not-okay-with-who-we-are-ness.

my theory is that a lot of our faith experiences haven’t helped us with security; rather, they have sometimes increased our insecurity.  the messages passed on to many of us through our families, relationships, and some of our church experiences are more like:

“you’re somehow not enough.”

“you’re a wretch.”

“you are missing the mark.”

“if only you were more like or had faith like ____ or ______.”

“if you could just do A and B and C, then X, Y, or Z will magically be yours”

“you’re not supposed to want anything good for yourself, because that’s selfish”

in these moments, there are some that would say i am soft on sin and dismiss our depravity. they don’t know me very well.  i am well aware of our human tendencies toward doing-all-kinds-of-stupid-things-that-mess-with-our-freedom.  i am well aware how much i need God, even though i don’t really want to.  i am well aware that i am a flawed human being in desperate need of Grace.

but i am not only a broken, jacked-up sinner.  i am also a whole, fully-loved-just-as-i-am saint.  God’s beloved child.

and i think God’s children are supposed to feel smart, kind, and important.  not so that we can be haughty or prideful, but so that we can be free and secure, holy and dearly loved, shining Christ’s light instead of letting it remained buried & hidden.

if we are reflections of God, what are we reflecting?

it’s said that the world will know us by our love.  is that what the world sees when they intersect with us? do they see freedom?  do they see hope?  do they see security?  do they see belovedness?  do they see gentleness?  do they see kindness?  do they see passion?  do they see something that they are drawn to?

i often don’t think so.  in so many ways, i think what the world sees is angry, mean, insecure, and harsh.  because that’s how many of us feel toward ourselves. 

Jesus calls us to love others as we love ourselves.  that’s probably a big piece of the current-state-of-the-church’s problem.  how can we love others when we hate ourselves?

this is one of my deepest passions when it comes to cultivating a redemptive dignity-restoring faith community–that we could participate in helping each other shift from feeling insecure to feeling secure.  from feeling imprisoned to feeling free.  from feeling unloved & unworthy to feeling loved & valued.  from feeling stuck to feeling empowered.  from feeling dumb to feeling smart.  from feeling useless to feeling important.

the other day i was with a friend who shared, “i’m starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, i really am loved….i’m liking myself for the first time in my life.”   for me, one story like that will sustain me all year!

only God can do this work.  it is a wild & beautiful movement of the Holy Spirit. but i also believe it flows most directly through people.  God’s love will remain elusive unless we have tangible examples of it here. now. on earth. in our real lives.  in our real experiences.

we need to not just tell each other the truth (that’s easy and a lot of churches are good at that).

we need to start showing each other the truth.

that we are loved. important. valuable. worthy. 

that we have stories to live and songs to sing.  

to get there, we must ask God to break through all of those crazy messages life & the church has passed on to us, to help us see more clearly our worth, our value, the possibilities that exist before us despite the obstacles.  this lent, that’s what i hope we could know more deeply:

you is smart.  you is kind.  you is important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

19 Comments

  • Christianity, the story of amazing grace, the Kingdom of God here on earth ushered in by Jesus, has a tendency to get stuck on how bad we are, how bad the world is and we’d better hurry up and die so we can get to heaven where everything is wonderful.

    This past year we’ve been spending time with a friend whose wife died. He sees everything through black-colored glasses. Doctors, hospitals, churches, politicians, the government and life in general. Basically, he’s depressed. Reminds me of Christians – We’re bad, and so is the government and everything that’s happening in our country. Let’s hide inside the church, commiserate with each other about how crappy life is and wait for God to get us out of this God-awful place.

    For most of us it’s tough to love others when we aren’t feeling so loved ourselves. Maybe we’re not feeling so loved by others because they’re not feeling loved either. Maybe we can’t force anyone to love us, but we can choose to love others. We know people who will never believe we love them, but hopefully we also know people who return the love. We all need some of those people in our lives.

    Reply
    • thanks sam. yeah, “for most of us it’s tough to love others when we aren’t feeling so loved ourselves…” i am glad that it’s not a deal breaker, though, that the two can run simultaneously, meaning that we don’t have to wait until we have the love thing figured out in order to pass it on, but as we cultivate more and more of it, more and more of it gets passed on.

      Reply
  • I’m in the middle of learning this Kathy:
    “i am not only a broken, jacked-up sinner. i am also a whole, fully-loved-just-as-i-am saint. God’s beloved child.”

    Thanks for the reminder, beautiful friend.

    We DO have stories to live and songs to sing!

    xoxo

    Reply
  • O Kathy wonderful friend soooooooo much here to absorb and soak in like a sponge!!!! I think the *soft on sin we are all totally depraved and need to always know it* is so deeply embedded in us as you shared that a reflex response just happens when a message of grace and love as you share is heard. I think translators did us a disservice way back when they used the word *perfect* instead of *mature* in a few key verses. Like you spoke of in the post previous to this one, so easy to feel/think/believe we are failing and disappointing God if we are not *totally clean* of all our sins!!! Seriously??? You breathe freedom,peace,love and hope in your sharing and especially your transparency Kathy.Brennan Manning is so good at speaking about our paradox of being both sinner/saint all at once!!!

    Another thought i would like to hear you speak on Kathy is the whole idea of moral ethical integrity and how being a Jesus follower does not mean we will attain a perfection in this simplky by being believers. I just see so much judgment and aspersion cast on people when they fall to varying sins as though it removes their entire faith walk because of it. I hope i am being clear here my friend and hope anyone else who feels what i am saying will share also. Hope to see you when your here Kathy!!!

    Reply
    • thanks, robert. yeah, i like that topic. integrity. i think we have a lot of misconceptions about it and default most easily into all or none thinking. it’s interesting, sometimes people are disqualified from certain positions for being honest (in that, they acted in integrity by being honest and are then punished for it). and then those who hide are rewarded. it’s all very interesting. i will have to think more about this but you’re giving me some good ideas. i hope you got my email and look forward to seeing you in portland in may, i hope. dates will be firmed up this weekend!

      Reply
      • Kathy- came here first before checking my email so will get it once i respond back lol So agree with you about the integrity/honesty thing. I look forward to you tackling this more later on. More thoughts i had on it all are how expectations get put upon us by ourselves, the church and our relational environment and putting on a brave front of appearing to have it all together because of fear of all sorts of things if we let go of the mask. I now am looking soooooo foeward to may!!!

        Reply
  • Thank you for such a beautiful message. I know that I want to know God’s grace and redemption more so I can pass it to others.

    Reply
  • Kathy, what a beautiful post. It lifted me up this morning. It is the sound of grace and truth ringing out. I appreciate you and your perspective so much. Thank you for this. I shared the link. You rock.

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing…and for reading…and for understanding how important this basic–and oh so tricky to believe in deep places in our hearts–is to our healing & transformation. looking forward to hanging out sometime this spring.

      Reply
  • Not going to lie, this was really really really hard for me to read. Really. In moments, especially this past year, I have felt loved and wanted aaand, even have had moments of security. However, what hurts, what stings deep, is that it doesn’t stick for as long as I would like. Oh how I am wanting, praying for the depth of security that seems to elude. How to not to be so unkind to myself when my brain has love sieves. I is hopeful for one day at a time..

    Reply
    • yeah, as karl says, developing that love receptor–velcro of our hearts (and heads) is easier said than done, but it is coming. slowly, surely. love that last time. that was awesome.

      Reply
      • i love that last “line” (sorry, typo!) “i is hopeful for one day at a time.” love.

        Reply
  • Thank you for this beautiful, challenging, affirming post. I am new to your blog and you are a new favorite, for sure. Thanks for sharing your voice!

    Reply
    • hey rebecca, thanks so much for reading & sharing. welcome to the carnival 🙂 also, i just put 2 and 2 together and remembered meeting you all those years ago in SD at the out-of-the-mud stuff we were doing down there. time flies.

      Reply
      • Kathy -Wow! I had no idea we had met before when I found your site Great memory and, yes, small world. Again, love your words and I love your “carnival”. Thanks for refreshing my memory! Blessings – Rebecca

        Reply
  • I so needed to read this. It spoke straight to my heart. This is exactly what I’ve struggled with for a long time:

    “you’re somehow not enough.”
    “if only you were more like or had faith like ____ or ______.”

    And it’s so true that I’m more comfortable and familiar with my badness.

    Thank you for this very necessary reminder that we are more than just broken sinners. I need to start telling and showing myself (& others) the truth. I so appreciate your voice and perspective, Kathy. It’s refreshing and it gives me hope. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • thanks stephanie, for reading & sharing. oh those two that you shared are ones that i can really relate to.

      Reply

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