Funny when people give you a definition for your name, it kinda sticks with you! Urghh!
J– Jesus First O-Others Second Y-Yourself Last
“Remember, JOY, Y-is Yourself last!”
And so I kept “YOU” that is “ME” last!
And in keeping myself last, I lost my joy somewhere down the round, when signs of Five-Finger-Frayers drove me to the self-pity-turned-self-destructive highway.
Oh the famous, much loved, religious folks teach you – FIVE FINGER FRAYER (read Prayer), where the thumb denotes family and friends, index finger is for teachers, middle is for authority or govt., ring finger for weak or sick (cos that’s a delicate finger) and lastly and surely the least – the pinky finger denotes – “Myself Last.”
I laughed when I first heard it preached – because the man kept holding up his pinky finger saying ‘you pray for yourself last and keep yourself last always.’ I just could not believe “I” was the pinky finger or well, let’s just say it – I was the ‘susu’ finger. Every Indian grew up having friends who flashed pinky-aka-susu finger to the teacher, for permission to pee!
Surely enough, I allowed myself to be trampled upon, had a low self-worth (yes, despite the many talents), thought I deserved to be heart-broken, thought I was mistake-prone, and would punish myself for being so unholy, un-righteous, and a wretched sinner. Guilt-stricken, I felt so small on the inside, just like the smallest finger L
So anyone who made me feel better about myself always won my affection. And here’s where I used my talents to make me feel special.
I wondered, what happened to the joy that I had? Religion had killed it. Legalism stripped it. Condemnation destroyed it.
I was paying for my mistakes, mess-ups, by settling for a low- life, by hurting myself repeatedly through overly loving people and deliberately not getting my expectations met, and getting hurt – that cycle continued.
Though I felt miserable in all this, I felt holy and righteous, thinking this is my cross to bear.
No wonder I could not enjoy life, or celebrate life, because I could never celebrate that one person, who is there with me every stage of my life … ME!
Here I was, being the BIG one, spreading love and forgiveness to the whole world, my self-righteous spirit getting pampered all through. And God spoke to my heart: You have given the gift of love and forgiveness to the whole world – but to yourself.
And here’s what God revealed to me: I am not the least or the last … I am the one person I have been neglecting all my life. It is Jesus first, myself second and others last. I am my first priority!
I was living in a wrong identity – mistaking humility for a beat-me-up mindset that placed me last in the list of people to be loved. It was the self-righteous spirit, disguised as humility that made me do that. Somewhere, I took pride in being selfless.
Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Love yourself! Wow! “Me” was back in the picture. God doesn’t want me to give something I do not have – if I can’t love me, I can’t love you.
I was someone I had to tolerate, because I did not like me – I always fell short
When I looked in the mirror, this is what I saw – someone I had to tolerate. I always felt that I fell short, I lacked, I did not fulfil God’s expectations of me, I could not please him, I was not worth it, not deserving – I always saw myself as someone I WAS NOT. I was someone I had to tolerate, not someone I could celebrate.
But if you see yourself as God sees you, joy comes crawling back.
God does not tolerate you. Here’s what he feels about you:
The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy. Zep 3:17
Other versions use the word rejoice – the root word denotes properly to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion). So literally, He dances over you!
Yes, Jesus delights in you, and celebrates over you by dancing over you, which is the highest form of celebration.
God does not tolerate me. He is not the one calculating my mistakes, remembering my failures and judging my performance. He is not the one counting what I AM NOT.
May be your parents or church elders treated you that way: always focussed on what you are NOT, never forgetting your mistakes, calculating your messes, and fed up with your bad performances – morally or academically or both!
You are so used to being treated that way you can’t accept this truth that God is celebrating you. But that’s the truth, beloved. Let this truth sink in and set you free from the religious abuse that’s left you stripped of all your worth.
What a revelation! What a relief to the hurting soul!
Celebrate with a shout: God does not tolerate me. He celebrates me!
(Next Post: “But the truth is also that I’m a horrible person. How can he celebrate me?”
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