Twisting off the ignition, I grabbed an overflowing duffel bag from my sporty red car.
“Tiffany!” Mom threw her arms around me and planted a kiss on my cheek as she opened the front door. “Need help carrying anything in?”
“I’ll help you!” my seven-year-old sister Amy reached eagerly for my duffel bag.
“How about we carry it together?” I asked, hugging them in turn.
It was Christmas break my junior year of college, and being home felt weird. So weird. The memories had come back to haunt me as I drove across the familiar streets and past my former date locations. Would it ever go away? Would the pain ever let me breathe?
One day a few mornings later, my dad noticed I was wandering aimlessly around the living room. “Tiffany, what’s wrong?” he asked, standing in the doorway.
I shook my head, gathering courage. “Dad, I feel like I have let you and mom down so much that I can never please you again.” I thought back on the things I had done with my ex-boyfriend. “I’m sorry.”
His eyes filled with tears as he walked over and pulled me into his arms. “Tiffany, I don’t love you because you’re good enough; I love you because you’re my daughter. It’s true, you’ve made some stupid mistakes, but that doesn’t change a thing. I love you because you’re my daughter.”
In that moment I could sense my heavenly Father speaking the same words over me. How many times I had tried to earn His love, tried to prove I was a daughter He could delight in. And yet now it was as though He too was saying:
“Tiffany, I don’t love you because you’re good enough; I love you because you’re My daughter. You’re trying so hard to earn My love, but you never can. Your best deeds are like filthy rags, and yet I gave My love anyway.”
I couldn’t have expressed it fully at the time, but now I understand it this way:
It’s not about being good enough; it’s about staying close enough to Him.
He’s not looking for sons and daughters who are good enough all the time, but for sons and daughters who will come closer. Our lives will not be transformed through our human perfection, but through our proximity to Him. Yes He will continue to change us and make us more like Himself, but that happens as we come closer.
God began calling me nearer. When I made a mistake, He asked me to come closer to Him. When I was sure I’d blown it this time and knew He’d be disappointed, He spoke His love over me. When I had a victory to celebrate, it was like He was celebrating with me.
He began to teach my over-achieving self this:
God doesn’t love us because we’re good enough; He loves us because we’re His sons and daughters.
Period. End of story.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Tiffany Dawn teaches “Intro to Songwriting” and “Music Careers” at The Potter’s School. Author of The Insatiable Quest for Beauty, Miss Robison resides in upstate New York when she is not traveling on book and speaking tours. She has a love affair with long walks, raspberry chai, and everything CIA. (Seewww.tiffanydawn.net.)