Hello friends! Today I am honored to introduce you to Rachel Kuchem! Rachel is a native and resident of Fort Worth,Texas. She received her LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) in 2019 and has her own private practice, Re-Viving Lives Counseling, where she is passionate about Biblically counseling girls and young women, desiring to connect the Gospel to broken places. Rachel enjoys eating tacos and dancing with her fiancé, outdoor adventuring, reading, writing, and conversations over a cup of tea.
When God Embraces What We Cannot
by: Rachel Kuchem
Have you experienced God’s tender embrace?
This might seem like a funny question, especially if you are a believer. Maybe you have grown up in a Christian home or more recently have accepted Christ. You are wondering what your call, your area of ministry is.
What do you think might be one of the main factors holding many women back from pursuing their call in life and from living in the abundant life of Jesus?
Self-loathing. Yes, self-loathing. You can be a church-going woman who looks like she has her act together and still struggle with this. It can take on many different forms, but the root of it is always shame. Shame over a failure. Shame over a sin pattern. Shame over a thought. A struggle. A relationship. A failed interaction. The focus is always inward, never upward.
None of us are comfortable with discussing self-loathing. We tell others or ourselves to “take those thoughts captive” (2 Cor 10:5), that they are not true, and that you should never hate yourself because Jesus loves you. And yes of course, all of that is very true. But what if your inner voice of shame, your inner voice of self-loathing was something to carefully explore, to bring to Jesus, rather than to immediately silence? What if the part of yourself that you detest the most is actually Jesus’ favorite?
Self-loathing can take on so many forms, some passive, some active. It can look like glancing at yourself in the mirror with disgust. Refusing genuine compliments that come your way. Grabbing a bowl of ice cream or reaching for the next show on Netflix because numbing out is easier than facing how you feel about yourself. It can look like actions or thoughts of self harm in various forms.
Self-loathing from a heightened awareness of my own brokenness and sin, as well as tied to times of spiritual attack and condemnation, has been a part of my own ongoing spiritual and emotional struggles. I have wrestled with chronic OCD fixations surrounding spiritual scrupulosity and sexual temptations in various forms for years. For me, self-loathing can feel like a spiritual darkness that descends from looking inward too long and having thoughts of self harm and a disbelief that ALL of me could truly be loveable by God.
You do not have to have a messed up childhood or a horrible life to be struggling with shame or wrestling to believe and experience God’s embrace of all of you. This is an often hidden struggle that I believe beats in the hearts of many women sitting in church pews, hidden under smiles, acts of service, and the appearance of having it all together. What if we all took our masks off and recognized that the worst parts of ourselves are made beautiful because He embraces us? What if this struggle was not something to silence but something to channel to further embrace God’s embrace? You might more know and taste His embrace because of your struggles and through that shift your posture to learn to adore Him more, like the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with oil and wiping them with her hair (Luke 7:36-51).
Whether you have read this or not, check out the story in Luke 15:11-32 of the prodigal son. It is not just a story for those who have had dramatic testimonies of “I once was lost but now am found” stories. This story is all about God’s embrace of all of you.
My ongoing spiritual journey has been God’s pursuit of me just like the father towards the prodigal son. * The parts of me that I do not like the most, the parts that I am disgusted by, even loathe— THAT is the part that gets to experience Abba (Biblical tender term meaning “Daddy”, Romans 8:15) leaping off the front porch and running to embrace me. The part of you that struggles the most and that you are most prone to loathe—that’s the part that God—Abba—runs toward. We are all the prodigal and are being invited to come home. Every part of you has a place at His table, on His lap, in His heart.
That part of yourself that you struggle with the most is His favorite. God does not tolerate you. His redemption of you was not a cold transaction. God delights in you. The places that you are most ashamed of or troubled by are where He is most eager to go. These places call forth His embrace the most. ** We see many examples in Scripture of Christ’s posture towards us.
You and I do not get to determine our level of loveableness, of beauty. He says we are loved and beautiful and so we are. It is believing what He says about me more than what I would say about me. It’s the freedom of getting over myself and what I would say about me and just settling into His tender embrace.
The answer to self-loathing is not to have a higher esteem of yourself or a lower esteem of yourself but to get your eyes off yourself altogether and to more greatly esteem what Abba says of you. *** That is your liberty. That is your freedom. You are invited into the Dance.
I don’t know your story. Maybe you have shame from your past or are living in the middle of it currently. It could be a broken relationship, a sin pattern, a struggle, or a hang up. Whatever it is, know that the Father leaps off the front porch and longs to bring all of you home to the biggest party ever that celebrates…YOU.
If you live out the reality that you are celebrated would that not liberate power into your ministry? Your relationships? Your sphere of influence? You are embraced FULLY by God. Now go and embrace others. What if you engaged in ministry from a place of being His beloved daughter—delighted in, with nothing to prove?
How many women are held back from engaging in ministry because they believe the lie that they are not enough, not qualified, struggle too hard, could not possibly be used, etc..? Are you going to listen to the voices of condemnation or tell yourself what the voice of Abba is telling you, “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5)? God says this of Jesus His Son but also sings this over each of His daughters (Zephaniah 3:14-18) because we are united to Him through Christ.
Your weakness is where Christ wants to embrace you and be strong through you. If you do not have to keep up an image, you are free. If you know the Father is well-pleased with you, there is no area of your life that is off-limits for Him to use. The areas you are most ashamed of are the areas owned and redeemed by Jesus and is where He wants to currently use you even as you are in process, not just when you are on the “other side” of a struggle. The cross is big and God’s embrace is bottomless. Therefore, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness…[Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that he power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong” (1 Cor. 11:30, 12:9-10).
May you, dear daughter of the King, experience your struggles as a place of His tender embrace.
For more on this topic, check out Sharon’s book Free of Me: Why Life is Better When It’s Not about You!
*See The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J.M. Nouwen
**See Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
***See The Freedom of Self-Forgetfullness by Tim Killer (booklet/ sermon).