The Mystery of Being Royal
You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but [God] is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
C. S. Lewis
She always smelled like cocoa butter and summertime. My mother's arms were smooth and soft. I watched her jack up our car to change a flat tire countless times. Every time I saw her do this, I knew she could easily hold that car up on her own if she wanted to. Her strength was something supernatural, despite her petite frame. Her wrists, delicate. Her hands, graceful. Yes, her fingertips were calloused from playing her guitar, but this was the only hint of roughness on her body.
Her arms carried me. And along with my grandmother's and aunt's, they were the only arms I ever remembered carrying me.
A woman's embrace was all I ever knew for the first few years of my life.
One Halloween our family was walking in a neighborhood at dusk. Below the fluffy ballerina tutu, my short three-year-old legs hurried to keep up with the excitement of the miniature pirate I was following. I took three times the steps my older brother took on our long walk. My legs tired, so I asked my mom to hold me, over and over.
Up: walk. Down: trick-or-treat. Up: walk. Down: trick-or-treat.
Finally, my mother wearied.
"Just walk. Stop complaining. I'm tired too."
That's when I felt his hands. They were large and warm under my arms. They wrapped all the way around me--from my sternum to my spine. Gentle. Safe. Strong. He lifted me higher than I'd ever been lifted before. He handled me like I was fine china.
He set me in the curve of his firm arm--I fit perfectly. His rough skin was covered by the thick, tangled hair on his forearms. He smelled like a Christmas tree and a wood fire. I don't remember his face. Only the deep lines around his mouth as he smiled down at me.
I remember his joy when he held me--like it was a privilege. This is my first memory of a man's embrace. I blushed all over. My little, tense body relaxed in his cuddle. I don't remember falling asleep, but I know it happened quickly.
I never knew his name. He was only a friend of a friend of our family. My mother doesn't even remember him. But I remember his embrace. Afterward, I had a quiet aching to experience that sense of safe, masculine purity again.
The Reality of Absence
My father missed the opportunity to love me in person. I never met him. He was in prison for a while. I remember him sending me a Christmas present one year. I wasn't resentful that he wasn't there. In fact, I would've told you I didn't need a dad. But his absence was significant. I didn't realize the effect as a young girl, but it turns out, it did matter.
I figured I could make up my own reality, though. I envisioned myself as independent. I'm not fatherless--don't treat me differently
. I defended myself. I had to do what my dad would do. But false realities bring pain. I always felt like a burden. Like I was a weight on others and society--one they wanted to ignore.
I was fatherless. And that seemingly small part of my identity, in many ways, molded an orphan heart in me.
When I encountered love my orphan heart rejected it because it felt like the smartest thing to do. My philosophy was They will reject me, so I will reject them first. They don't get to hurt me.
I did this often. I intended never to owe anyone a kindness I couldn't pay back. I stayed "out of the way." I did my best not to cost anyone anything.
I was suspicious of gifts. What do they want? What are they trying to pull? How are they trying to trap me? I thought. I couldn't imagine I was worth anyone's time, money, pain, or inconvenience. I didn't see myself as a blessing, so how could I trust in unconditional love? When you see yourself as a burden, nothing is free-- especially love.
But that's not reality. It may seem like it, but that is a lie from hell. I've learned another way to view myself. It's the way God intends each person on earth to view themselves. God offers us another reality: his.
The Reality of the Kingdom
I was born a temple.
A living, breathing temple.
My Creator dreamed of me. Not my mother, who did not plan me. Not my father, who was not expecting a second child. In my mother's womb, with sacred materials, the King of heaven and earth knit together a temple. He protected me so that I would grow.
By the time I was sixteen, I found myself restless and empty, feeling defiled with no way to be fixed. I was ready to die for lack of purpose. I wanted to die because I couldn't see that anyone wanted me to live. I didn't know there was a God who had created me with a purpose in mind. I didn't know I was a temple. I didn't know that after I sold myself to death, I had been bought back by the King of heaven, who is life.
He knew I'd sense something was missing. He knew I'd search. He knew I'd blaspheme. He knew I'd hate. He knew I'd choose death and adopt an orphan heart.
As I heard Jon Foreman once say, "There is a song, and it is uniquely yours! It reverberates in your heart."
Once I understood the song of my heart I realized the truth for the first time. My King stood at the door to my soul, knocking in time with my heart song. He dreamed of me and rescued me. Then he drew up heavenly papers and sealed them with his blood and adopted me--his daughter.
From orphan to princess in a heartbeat. I was born into the mystery of his love.
The world labeled me a bastard from conception.
A parasitical-type creature who burdens society.
An unworthy cost.
Another statistic who causes the legitimate citizens of good society to groan, roll their eyes, and sigh, "Do we really have to put up with this?"
My mother knew what it was like to feel unwanted, and she refused to let them talk her into labeling me that way.
"People may make mistakes, but it's God who makes babies," she'd say through a tightly set jaw. "There is no such thing as an illegitimate child."
My mother watched miracles of provision break past all odds from one moment to the next. So she believed in those miracles for my life as well. As she looked for the miracles, waiting on them to come, she always found them.
If God wanted to end my life, then he could have taken it himself in those seven months of my mother's pregnancy, or those twelve years of my childhood, or my seven teenage years.
But instead of taking my life, God protected it.
Over and over, as I moved from situation to situation like a gypsy across the southeast United States, God protected, corrected, and provided.
Because he is my heavenly Father.
Because I wasn't born a bastard. None of us are.
My Orphan Lifestyle
Still, so many of us choose an orphan lifestyle, like I did for most of my life. I wrestled with being fatherless. Finally, I dismissed the idea of needing a father and embraced an orphan identity. I found a cold kind of peace in deciding I wouldn't expect anyone to help me. I would protect myself, provide for myself, and decide for myself what was right and wrong. But all the boundaries I made were dotted lines, always shifting and changing with the wind. As an orphan I not only had to be God for myself but I also felt the need to be God for every other orphan I came across. When I failed myself and others one too many times, I wanted to die.
When you think of yourself as God, you can condemn yourself and others in the most hellish ways. When you have God as your father, you can rest in his goodness, sovereignty, and justice. But if there is no God, you must be the judge.
But in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. . . . Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?
Whenever I wanted to see someone beaten for being a liar, I would suddenly see a liar in myself. Indeed, our judgment of others comes back to us but even worse, as Jesus said, "pressed down, shaken together and running over." I condemned liars as deserving a beating, but I condemned my own lying self as deserving of death. The truth was I hated the way leaders hurt the people they were leading, and then found myself trying to be a good god for others only to fall into a pit with them falling with me. I hated myself for not being good enough--and for not being god enough.
The truth is no one is god enough to be God except God himself. We are reflections of him in so many ways. But we are only the creatures. We are not the Creator. Apart from knowing our heavenly Father and all that he made us for, we will always come up short of what we are meant to be and experience as his creation.
We are made to be children of the King of heaven.
We Are Royal Superheroes
You and I are made to be royalty.
Each one of us shines a unique facet of God's light and love into the world. God gave us unique DNA, fingerprints, voices, and perspectives. We are living colors on God's palette. And this life he's painting is made more beautiful, more distinct, richer, and deeper when we embrace the fullness God intends for us--not when we try to be someone else or compare and condemn one another or ourselves. In the refuge of our heavenly identity we blaze. And eventually that light spills into the world--the blazing rainbow of God's intended purpose. And as we honor our uniqueness and the uniqueness of those around us, we will see miraculous glory and encounter the fullness of God's beauty.
God made us to be spiritual warrior royalty who spiritually war for the truth in a world of lies. God made us superheroes, living supernatural lives of love that bring healing.
We're to live as citizens of heaven, on earth.
We're meant to stand up in our purposes.
We're meant to fight lies by choosing to believe the truth about who we are, about who God is, and about who others are. This breaks the chains that hold humanity back from our destiny of love, peace, unity, grace, and joy.
When I was a passionate, proud, angry, hate-filled young atheist, most of the time I was deeply depressed and cynical. Every day, I struggled with self-loathing. God was always waiting for me to hear his dream for my life.
Lacey, you are my beloved princess. If only you will be my daughter, then I will be your Father. This is what my beloved King of heaven longed to speak to my orphan heart.
But I couldn't understand this.
When I was a child, questions hung in the air above my restless heart that knew nothing of what it meant to have a father. What does father mean? And what does that have to do with me?
A father provides identity. Without a father to tell me who I was, I let the world tell me. But I was being lied to. And in silent moments, uncertainty threatened to suffocate me. Once I encountered my heavenly Father's loving gaze, I felt known beyond what I even knew of myself. And here's the beautiful part of it all: when I began to live in my knownness, the words, intentions, and perceptions of the world didn't matter. And I no longer care what the world might try to call me when I know who I am. And that confidence creates a certain hiddenness--a mystery. When a person can reject the world's perception of them, the world says, "Wait--well then, who are you?"
Suddenly they become alluring.
I want to take you on the journey of how I discovered the mystery of my heavenly Father and how that discovery clothed me in mystery too. I want to recount how I struggled through an affair--one that almost took my life. And so I need to walk you through my early life as a Christian. It was a time when I questioned my faith in God and had to choose whether I was going to really believe in him or not. What I discovered changed my life.
True love is freedom. True love is risk. True love is faith and trust. True love is beautiful, passionate, pure, and safe. True love is life itself. True love has no rival.
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