Today is my first official day of not being an employee of retail cosmetics. The decision to leave a job that has held me financially steady for six years was a scary one, possibly one of the hardest easy decisions I’ve ever made.
I say “hardest easy” decision because knowing that my time with the company I was with was over couldn’t have been more clear. Everything going on in my heart and my life pointed right towards the door, but taking the actual steps to walk out and facing the fear of all of the “what ifs”, took every bit of guts I have.
And here I am.
I jumped with both feet because I couldn’t not.
My constant prayer these days is, “Here is my life, God. Wreck it. Ruin it for your glory.” But don’t go thinking I’m super brave because most of the time I have to choke the words out in between sobs. I oscillate between terror of the unknown and a sense of adventure unlike anything I have ever experienced every day.
A big part of what has driven this big change in my life has been trying to wrap my head around how I am loved by God. I realized that I was living a huge lie. My mouth claimed that God loves me just as I am while my heart believed that there were parts of me that were unlovable and I was in constant turmoil trying to cover, hide, and mask those parts. I could logically understand that God sees everything, but it didn’t stop me trying to block him out of the dark parts of my soul or pretending to others that those parts didn’t exist.
About a year ago in a moment of divine disaster God’s voice thundered through my head and my heart and said, “I see you Katie Elizabeth Brown and I LOVE every piece of you. ” And for the first time in my life that truth felt like a refuge in a storm instead of a threat.
The world needs THIS kind of love.
The answer is love and it always has been because God IS love.
I am determined to love without a disclaimer because I am loved without one.
A disclaimer is a statement that denies something, usually responsibility. In Christian culture we are used to “loving” with disclaimers that say things like, “I love you, but I don’t accept your sin”, “I love you, but only when you do what I think is right”, or “I love you, but don’t hurt me and or I will cut you off”. We are fearful of guilt by association when those we love fail, get dirty and maybe don’t get right up. We don’t want to be stained by their sin, hurt, or have to sacrifice anything in the process of helping them up so we hold these disclaimers up so we can deny responsibility and make it understood that our love only reaches as far as their ability to deserve it.
God’s love doesn’t do this to us.
God’s love took responsibility for us on the cross. God CLAIMED us as we are and I believe with all of my heart that he asks us to do the same for each other. 1 Peter 4:8 says,
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
How would the world change if we loved like this? If we claimed each other in love, if we didn’t hold anything back, if we took responsibility by going all-in for one another?
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put my whole life into finding out.
One of the ways I’m committed to “walking as a child of Light” (Ephesians 5:8) is by working with a bunch of students on a project called Just As I Am. ProjectJAIA is an opportunity to come forward with those parts of ourselves we’ve worked so hard to hide from God and everyone else and to step out into the light of God’s unconditional love for us. Through our pictures we hope that ProjectJAIA will encourage us all to let God and his love for us into the places we feel the most vulnerable and that in the process we will learn to see each other the way he sees us.
I hope you will check ProjectJAIA out and if you’re feeling brave add your own photo! What have you let make you feel unlovable? Bring it into the light.
You can follow ProjectJAIA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. If you have questions, comments or would like to email a photo submission for the project you can contact ProjectJAIA at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also participate by hashtaging your photo #projectJAIA on any of the social media sites mentioned above.