“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Anabel Gillham was a woman who loved God, but had trouble accepting that God could love her. Sure, she knew the Bible verses that talked of God’s unconditional love for her, and yet she knew herself, and doubted a God who knew her innermost thoughts would approve or her.
The root of her problem was how she saw God and how she believed God saw her. She knew what kind of God He was. She read, Exodus 34:6, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth…,” but she believed she had to earn that love. She believed she had to be good enough to deserve it.
Then God used a very special person to help Annabel understand the depths of God’s love for her—her second child, Mason David Gillham. Mason was a special-needs child who could barely speak. I’ll let Anabel tell you her story.
I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved my little boy. It didn’t matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and on a certain special night walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never go to high school, or that he would never be a dad. I knew that Jesus loved Mason.
What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason’s mother, Anabel. You see, I believed that in order for a person to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for him. My standard for getting love was performance-based, so I “performed” constantly, perfectly. In fact, I did not allow anyone to see me when I was not performing perfectly. I never had any close friends because I was convinced that if a person ever really got to know me, she wouldn’t like me.
I carried this belief into my relationship with God, and as I began to study the Bible, I found, to my horror, that He knew my every thought, let alone everything I said or did (Psalm 139:1-4). I was standing “bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God” (Hebrews 4:13, TLB). What did that mean to me? That meant that He really knew me, that He saw me when I wasn’t performing well. Based on what I perceived as my responsibility to perform in order to receive acceptance, I concluded without a doubt that He could not possibly love me, that He could never like what He saw.
One day, as I was washing the dishes, Mason was sitting in his chair watching me, or at least he was looking at me. I stopped washing the dishes and got down on my knees in front of Mace. I took his dirty little hands in mine and tried so desperately to reach him.
“Mason, I love you. I love you. If only you could understand how much I love you.”
He just stared. He couldn’t understand; he didn’t comprehend.
I stood up to the sink again. More dishes, more washing, more crying—and thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness. I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said:
“Anabel, you don’t look at your son and turn away in disgust because he’s sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don’t shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he’s sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself. Anabel, you don’t reject Mason because all of the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don’t reject him because he doesn’t perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. I love you, Anabel, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.”
Hearing Anabel’s story transformed my thinking about God’s love for me. For years I lived as though I had to be “good enough” for God to love me. I understood that salvation was a gift of grace—a free gift from God that I did not earn. But somewhere along the way I began believing the lie that I had to perform properly to keep the gift. I feared if I were not good enough, He would take it back. But that is a lie.
I could never be good enough to earn salvation, and I could never be good enough to keep it. Jesus did it for me. Jesus keeps me still. And the same is true for you.
Hear God speak to you today: “I love you, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.”
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for loving me just the way I am. Thank You that I don’t have to earn Your love, but simply accept it. And God, I thank You that nothing can separate me from Your love.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Look up the following verses and note what you learn about God’s love for you.
1 John 4:10
1 John 4:16
More from the Girlfriends
Do the voices in your head say you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough…or just not enough, period? In Sharon’s new book, Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence you’ll learn how to preload your heart with the truth to fight your deepest insecurities, and change the way you think about yourself and your circumstances. She also has a beautiful bracelet stamped with the word “Enough,” to remind you of this truth…Because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His Spirit in you, you are enough!