When I looked in the mirror at myself, my reflections were blurred by my own perceptions, biases and beliefs. When I looked at myself in others’ mirrors, I saw a different reflection, peppered with their ideas, opinions and beliefs. When I looked at myself through the world’s mirror, I saw yet another vision, different from the other two. Which one was right?

When I followed my own perceptions, I ended up in trouble. When I followed my friend’s ideals, I ended up in trouble. When I followed the world’s leading — same result.

Knowing I am loved, deeply loved by God, and seeing myself through his eyes, as a beautiful person created in his image, as someone who is capable and created to receive His love, accept His love, and give His love, is a teaching that God has been giving me this past year. Ever so gently, God has been teaching me that I need to learn to see myself as he sees me, that I need to look in the mirror he is holding up for me to see.

Left to myself, I tend to either extreme– usually for me, it’s putting myself down, and the other extreme is to inflate myself up; either way, however, it’s the wrong way. The true view of self is found by looking at ourselves the way God sees us. We’ll come closer to the mark by seeking the answer on our knees.

It’s taken me too long to fully accept that love, and BELIEVE it to this degree, as some lies still held me in chains. For years, I didn’t believe I was worthy of others’ love. I felt inadequate, as if I were lacking somehow. For years I thought I wasn’t pretty enough. Then there were times I thought I wasn’t smart enough. I had seasons of self-doubt and denial. Furthermore, there were occasions when I measured myself by the failures I thought I saw others saw in me, or by failures I saw in myself, or by my mistakes. For too many years, I believed the lies I wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t measure up… and it ended with disastrous results.

This past year, through the Breaking Free study, and through some other means God used, I came to the point where I recognized and identified these lies, and it’s devastating power over me. No more, though, will I let this lie destroy me and hold me captive. Understanding and accepting the truth of God’s love in deeper places has broken the chains and lies of the past that held me down and threatened my future. I know whose I am, I know I am treasured and loved, and was made for a purpose. God has plans for me that no one can thwart, that no one can threaten, that no one can change.

To be called a “treasure” brings tears to my eyes. But beloved friends, that is what we ALL are. That is how God sees each one of us.

When I’m tempted to compare myself, or fall into the trap of thinking of myself other than the measured, balanced way God sees me, I look to His word again and again, and fall to my knees and ask for clarification. I am a sinner, and he knows it. He knows my weaknesses and my human propensity to sin. But he unconditionally loves me. His arms are always open. He has the perfect balance of justice and mercy. His perspective is the right one. His viewpoint from heaven is what properly grounds me and keeps me firmly planted in truth.

For the rest of my life on earth, there will be opportunities to see myself incorrectly. I will be challenged by fingers pointing at me, by my own deceitful heart, by back-stabbing friends, by known enemies, by the unknown, by the culture, by the media, by the world. But the true picture will be found on my knees.

Beloved, the same is true of you, too. You are a treasure. God loves you, deeply loves you. To understand his love you need to look at the cross– really look at it and understand its meaning. God sees you not as a heap of past mistakes, failures, and sin, but as who he made you to be, with all of your potential. He made you in his image– a beautiful image, a beautiful person, created by him to be loved by him, and to love him. He looks upon us with the most loving eyes possible. It doesn’t mean we are exempt from the consequences of our sin, and our poor choices, but it does mean He doesn’t define us by our mistakes and sin. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

“His thoughts toward us can0not be counted; we cannot count the sum of them!” (Psalm 40:5). Who else has love like that? If one person had that many thoughts toward another, we might call it an unhealthy obsession! Truly, there is no one who loves us like this. Even a mother who loves her infant, whose vigilant eyes and hands are upon her child, whose ears wake up to each noise at night, and who spontaneously kisses her child multiple times– even that love cannot be compared with God’s love for us, as his children. Genuine parental love offers us a glimpse of God’s love, but even that love is not perfect. Only one love is perfect: God’s.

One of the greatest lessons for me thus far through all of this has been: that once the chains were broken and I recognized the lies that held me captive, I was able to accept God’s love in those areas of my life that needed healing, which enabled me to love myself better, which in turn is enabling me to love others better, too. Loving oneself has nothing to do with living a self-absorbed and self-centered type of life; on the contrary, it is paramount to loving others the way God asks us to love others: “love others as you love yourself”. He stated it that way for a reason. We must first love ourselves before we can love others. And to love myself, I need to first realize and accept God’s love for me. At first it was startling, but in a very good way: at a deeper level I knew my love for others wasn’t all it could be, and the exciting thing was to find an answer for that.

Do you believe God loves you like that? so much? that his thoughts toward you are so many that they cannot be counted? I have admitted it has taken me years to understand that love, what it all means. These revelations of God’s love are words and thoughts that I’ve been repeating to myself, walking through some dark times. This is something I’ve needed to own and understand– and to believe. Over the past year, I’ve come to understand that love like I never have before in my life… and still, there are higher mountains to cross. But to get to those high places… I read recently that to get to a mountain, you must first cross a valley. It’s in those valleys where we see sides of God’s love and character we may never have known before, and we learn about his deep, deep love.

So I long for you, beloved friend, to know what God thinks of you: you are his treasure.