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Barefoot and Preaching

By Leah Perrault

04/20/2016

Leah Perrault

On a particularly strange day this spring, three separate voices brought me the same message: “God is delighted with you.” Hours earlier, and in the days and weeks before, I was immersed in my own living: making meals, learning at work, driving kids to swimming lessons, taking time to make a phone call. I had no idea how much I needed to know that God is indeed delighted by me.

The third and final voice that spoke the words was a pastor, in the sacred space of reconciliation, flooded by my tears and sorrow. I had spilled my sinfulness all over the floor in a small and holy room, built for just these kinds of messes, and he met my eyes in the silent relief that followed my words. He looked at me and said, “Do you know that God is delighted by your brokenness?” The tenderness was overwhelming. I looked away and sank into the beautiful truth that God is indeed delighted by me, even in my brokenness, and especially when I fall to tears knowing that nothing I do stops God from loving me, from being delighted with me.

I needed the words. I needed them so badly that God sent three people on the same day with the exact same message. I needed the words to wash over my ears, and down through my flesh, into the deepest parts of my heart; I needed to receive them and believe them.

It is so easy for me to be delighted by people. When I see people singing along to the radio in their cars, my face smiles with an involuntary immediacy. Kids in church pews trying to behave while they resist a fit of laughter fill my head with wonderful memories of fooling around with my siblings. I am blessed by the kind smiles of elderly people choosing soup at the grocery store and waiting patiently while I go by with my circus cart of milk and cereal and kids. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude when my husband cracks a joke as an invitation to stop being so serious all the time. And at the same time, it nearly tears the heart out of my chest to really believe that I am delightful — because when I try to earn love and prove my worthiness, I become incapable of experiencing the miracle that I am.

And so I need a litany, and maybe you do too, to be reminded that God is delighted with me, and with us, by our effort and our failing, by our gifts and our weakness, by our simply living.

God is delighted with me when I hold the fresh laundry to my nose and breathe deeply, and fold the towels so they fit neatly in the linen closet and I close the door with a satisfied sense that all is right with the world. And God is delighted with me when the towels sit in the washer for three days because I forget about them and need to wash them again.

God’s tears are my tears when I hold my crying little girl and I do not have the right words to help her feel better. He loves me when I am exasperated with her faults — which are usually also my faults. God is delighted with my effort, with her growth, and with our being for each other.

God is captivated by the way my hair falls across my pillow when I finally fall asleep. He whispers gently when it is time to get up, waits for me to notice him, and welcomes me when I show up, even when I am days late. He seems to have no expectations for me to fail to meet. And then he is delighted to show me something more than I could imagine for myself.

God draws joy from the way I work first and play later; God honours when I cannot do any more and collapse into a mindless movie; God understands when I am afraid and God does not push me over the edge. In a way that I cannot understand, God delights precisely in the limits of who I am and whispers that I am enough, exactly as I am.

God is delighted with me because God is and because I am.

At every stage and age of this beautiful life, we retain the hearts of children who long to know that we are loved. And how God loves us. Every so often, God’s voice breaks through and I remember to really let God love me well.

Perrault is a wife and mom, a grateful employee of Emmanuel Care, and a speaker, writer and consultant at www.leahperrault.com