Mariah’s Story

I had this core lie that I believed for a long time, which was: “God is good, He's just not good to me”. And that lie eliminated my ability to truly understand his love and his grace. 

I think it’s because I went through several disappointments and thought that He was just taking things away. I equated God’s goodness with what He could do for me, and eventually I started to believe that I just had to work hard for good things to happen in my life. 

I began to value myself through what I did. I was an actor, I was an artist, I was a ministry worker. I was all these things that I could hold and see and that other people could value and be proud of.

But last year, everything was stripped away. My job, my career, my relationship. And for the first time, I had to look at just myself, without anything to hold up and have people admire. I discovered that I didn't really like who I was and I didn't think I was worthy of anything good.

I felt naked before the Lord, like there was nothing for Him to love.

I remember I was taking a class to become a biblical counselor and we were talking about all these verses that talk about our identity in Christ. We were also talking about how the Holy Spirit uses scripture to change our hearts, focusing on Romans 4-8. So I was like, “Alright. Evidently, these words have power and I'm supposed to think on these things”. 

I remember repeating those verses over and over again and slowly, the words began to actually mean something to me. God began to show me that His heart had always been towards me.

For so long I just assumed that He took everything from me, but He showed me that His goodness is seen not just in my circumstances or the things I can outwardly see or value, but that so much of it is tied to the unseen.

This whole time He was doing a work in me, where on the outside it probably looked like an unfortunate situation.

But God just works so upside down. He was protecting me, hiding me. Now I see that if I would have had it my way, I would have been on stage doing the thing and the momentum wouldn’t have stopped. But everything that happened led Him to do the important work that He did in me. It turns out His way is the best way. He needed to show me that my worth is so much more than just the things I do.
I recently had a word come to mind while walking and talking to God, and it was ‘tempered steel’. I looked it up and this is the definition: tempering is the process of heating steel to a high temperature to improve the machinability of the hardened steel while reducing the risk of cracks due to internal stresses. 

I  feel like that’s what the Lord was up to. He knew the strength that I would need internally, and I was resisting because I just didn't want to be melted. I wanted to be used. I wanted to go ahead and have the steel be used in a building and just make something beautiful. But He knew that if that would have happened, I would have only lasted a few years before I cracked.

That really revealed His love and grace towards me, and He also led me to see the things I was asking for in a different light.
I used to read “seek the kingdom of God first and all these things will be added to you as well” and just think, “okay. I'm seeking you. What more do you want?”

But now I see it as, “seek God first and everything that you need - every dream, every desire in your heart will be fulfilled through Him”. 

I realized it’s not, “seek Him and then you’ll get that job or that husband or that thing”. But it’s, “seek Him first, and you’ve already found everything”. Which means that literally everything else is added. 

That thing I was asking for or dreaming about is just something to be joyful about. Now I just live out of an abundance because I’ve already been given everything.
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