Between the lines

For the past seven years, I have dedicated my life to writing poetry (and every other word that God gives me). Though I write mostly for myself, I have always had my focus on the reader. What would the reader need most? What would God want the reader to know? And even though this is not a bad concept, I have learned something more valuable over the years.

Over the years I have written over 250 English-languaged poems (and a handful of Dutch ones), give or take. Poems that contain a piece of God and a piece of myself. Whether God quoted it or I wrote it. It has always been a partnership where God receives all the credit. And for me, it works! For me it is the most functional way of working and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

During the years I have been through a lot. Not just the past seven years but ever since childhood. All of these struggles have found a way into my poetry. Don’t misinterpret these words though, because my poetry is not a summery of misery. With the struggles, God always handed me the solutions whether I was ready for it or not. I know the solution can sometimes overwhelm you and make you feel as if you will never be able to accomplish it. Therefore God often gives long-term solutions. Solution you can grow into as time passes by. Every day is a learning process. We are not expected to succeed in a day, week or year. God knows how long we need and that is the exact time he gives us.

Since my poetry has always treasured the solutions, they have always been my greatest comfort in times of need. Whenever I felt sad, lonely, frustrated or confused, the Holy Spirit would most often lead me to my own poetry. Between the lines I fely comfort, answers, peace and the love of my Heavenly Father. Reading these poems and feeling the great comfort they bring me, even though I wrote them myself, installed a greater understanding deep within my soul.

‘When the work you do for God heals you more than others, you’ve done something right!’

Isn’t it true that when God calls us to work in His Kingdom, we are so extremely focused on others. We need to save the world, heal mankind and bring them safe and sound into the arms of Jesus. But what if Jesus has a greater message for us than for others through the work we do? Aren’t we missing out on something?

I see so many of us make that mistake. We are so focussed on teaching that we forget to be taught. We are so focused on helping that we forget to be helped. We are so focussed on loving that we forvet to be loved. We so easily forget ourselves. How wonderful it is to know that even though we forget ourselves, God does not. He sees us and loves us. And through His everlasting love He wants to teach us every day, face to face, in the most personal way. And sometimes we don’t need to cross oceans to find it. The greatest lessons we learn are in our own handwriting. All we need is to be reminded of it.

A personal kind of love

This morning someone responded to one of my instagram posts with the words, “Just wanted to let you know that you are loved”. Truth be told, I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear that. To be fully honest with you, I don’t always love myself. For the past week, God has been telling me, He loves me on numerous occasions, this being one of them. I believe Him! I really do. It’s just that I lack love for myself sometimes.

Let me explain myself a little more. Ever since I was little, I wanted to do the things I did perfect. If it didn’t work out, I would tell myself that I failed. This became such a struggle for me, that when I did one of my final internships, my internship supervisor set me apart. She told me, “There is one word that I do not have in my dictionary and that is failure. So I want you to stop using that word. You are not a failure! Yes, sometimes things just don’t work out but that does not mean that you failed. It only means that you have to try again until it does work out”. These words were (the way Oprah Winfrey calls it so beautifully) an AHA-moment for me. Nobody had ever told me this, the way she did. In fact I sat there (18 years old) with my jaw dropped and unable to say anything. Up to this day, those words are always somewhere in my mind, especially when I feel like a failure again. It works like an echo.

Even though I have been working on not calling myself a failure, I am still very hard on myself. In a way I am my own worst critic. I make it so hard on myself at times that I cannot live up to my own expectations. I know that God the Father loves me, Jesus loves me, my parents love me, but I just don’t always love myself. And in these moments of ‘self chastisement’, it is really difficult to see the love of God and also that of my loved ones. Because I live with my parents, I feel a high responsibility for them. As a way to pay for cost and accommodation I help my mom in the housekeeping. Since my mom has rheum and unable to do that much, I force myself to do everything. I work so hard that at times I feel completely exhausted, but even then I am forcing myself to do it anyway. Giving up is simply not an option. And I don’t communicate anything! Even when my parents ask me about it, I force myself not to make such a big deal about it. I can do this!

Also with God I am very critical about myself. Often I feel like, I have to be perfect. No mistake is allowed to be made. As a writer, as a poet and as a human being, I feel the need to make God proud of me. To make God love me. Yesterday I heard the voice of God the Father in my heart saying, “I love you regardless of what you do”. Even though I know this, I find it very hard to truly believe this. It is weird, I know. Through my life God has showed me and told me so incredibly much. Much more than I have told you so far, but the downside is that it puts a lot of pressure on me. As much as I want to do, I often feel unable to. And when I am unable to, I am very hard on myself. At the end I feel worthless, which is only bringing me down. The other day, as I woke up, I heard Jesus voice and He said, “I love you, just remember that”. I needed that.
Knowing that God loves me and that He is trying to help me, makes me feel humble, because often I feel like I don’t deserve it.

The reason I am telling you all this is, because I know that many people in this world feel the same way as I do. We ask so much of ourselves, thinking that God will love us just a little bit more if we work a little bit harder. We are our own worst critic and it is not lifting us up, it is bringing us down and wearing us out. All we need to remember is that Jesus loves us! The Father loves us, regardless of what we do!!! But yes, it is often easier said than done. However, I believe that through prayer and hard work we can overcome this. All I have to do, as Jesus said, is remind myself of His love for me. Every single time again, until my heart surrenders and accepts it. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and there is nothing we can do to gain a better place in Heaven! His love is enough!

There is this one song by Andrew Peterson called ‘Be kind to yourself’ that speaks to me a lot. He wrote it for his daughter, I believe, but everytime I hear it, it feels like God wrote that song for me. In the song there is this sentence that says; Gotta learn to love your enemies too. (In order to listen to the song, go to Youtube. It is easy to find) Whenever I hear this line, I think about myself. If I am my own worst critic, if I lack so much self love, than I have to learn to love myself too. Because if God thinks I am worth it, than I am! He loves me, so what good reason do I have to hate myself?