by Rachel Scott McDaniel

When I was young, if I misbehaved my punishment wasn’t a time-out session, it wasn’t a spanking, but three words that knocked me harder than any whoopin’ could.

You disappointed me.

Again and again. Over and over. Those words were pounded into me.

You disappointed me.

The power of this statement gained ascendancy in my reasoning. I know this was only intended to be my punishment—to steer me away from wrong-doing—but the way my personality is, it allowed those words to sink in and root into my core until it became my mantra not to disappoint anyone. Ever.

Can you see how ridiculous that sounds? And impossible?

So in high school, if I was in softball, I had to be the pitcher. If I was in the musical, I had to be the lead. Same with cheerleading, show choir, class officer and the many other activities I’ve involved myself in. Not because I wanted to be “in the spotlight” but because I felt compelled to be the best. Performance. If I worked really hard and made my way to the front, then I’d earn approval. I’d gain love. There is so much wrongness in this. It was a tainted view based on a wrong perception of love.

This carried over into my spiritual walk. The thought of failing God, terrified me. I’ve always been the “good girl,” but what if more was required? What if I didn’t read enough? Pray enough? I’ve always heard about his vast love, sang the song “Jesus loves me” a gazillion times as a child, but a part of me held back in believing this. I would read Scripture but interpret them from a works mentality.

Such was my life.

Then I got married. Suddenly, I had to let someone into my fragile world. For the first couple of months I worked oh so hard not to let him down—not to mess up and bring the fragile glass bubble I had built for myself crashing down on me.

But, I had begun to notice things. Hubby would act in the same manner as me, yet vastly different. He’d go above and beyond to make me happy. From the little things like watching my favorite chick movie with me during a sports game to buying a car and putting it in my name because he wanted it to be mine. But . Not to gain it. Not to work for it, but out of it. It was freeing to see. Experience.

Then it hit me.

God was the same way. He didn’t want me to exhaust myself working for His love, because I never could anyway. How could you work for something that was free to begin with? Romans 5:8 came alive: But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NET) He’s all in when it comes to loving us. Not based on our performance but on what His Son had done for us.

Just as a parent’s words become a child’s inner voice, slowly my Father God’s words became mine. God’s not standing over me, shaking his head in disapproval, but rather with opened arms. Now, I cherish these three words—He loves me. I live to please God not out of fear, but love. I’m loved by the One who created the universe and all I have to be…is me.

Is there someone in your life who’s loved you in a way that’s revealed something about God’s love? Tell us about it in the comments to be entered to win a 40 Days of Love Letters journal from Art of Adventure!*  

Rachel Scott McDaniel writes Christian historical romance. Her passion is to weave the truth of God’s Word into entertaining and thought-provoking stories. She’s also an editorial traffic manager for a healthy-living magazine. Her first and most important job is being the wife to her husband of fourteens years and mama to their two children.

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Indivisible: How My Husband’s #Love Revealed God’s Heart via @rachelsmcdaniel @emilyrconrad

PS – This post is part of the Indivisible series. To get more info about the series, guest writers, giveaways, and the free short story, check out the first post here. New posts will be going up each Tuesday and Thursday through February. As they’re added, you’ll be able to read them all here.

*PSS – About the giveaway: The name will be randomly picked from among the comments on 2/27/17 and announced in the 2/28/17 post. I’ll try to reach out to the winner as well. The winner will have a week to provide a US address to have the journal mailed to. I’m also giving away 2 journals to my email subscribers. More details on that in the first Indivisible post here.