“He will cove you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for your actions. I believe there are at least two elements inherent in this definition: (1) trust and vulnerability, and (2) pre-determined expectations. I will be addressing the first element today, and the second element tomorrow.
The first part of the definition, “a willingness to”, imparts an element of vulnerability and trust. If I can’t be open, then I won’t be willing. If I am not willing, then I will resist and hold back. If I feel I am being judged or condemned, then I won’t feel safe to expose. I will want to hide. I won’t allow myself to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, without vulnerability, it is impossible to grow in truth. You will always be hiding behind a mask. In the process of protecting yourself, you will be losing yourself. This is what happened to me.
On the other hand, if you sense that you are loved unconditionally, then you are free to face truth. You are more open to share and explore the good and bad “hidden” aspects of yourself. You have an opportunity to be genuine and vulnerable.
Typically, there are three “people” we have to be accountable to: God, Others and Ourselves. For so long, I had my priorities backwards. I was accountable to others first, myself second, and God last. I figured, “God loves me unconditionally so he will always be there.” While God does love us unconditionally, the truth is that if we choose to walk in intentional sin by behaving in a way that we know we shouldn't, then we grieve the Holy Spirit and we lose the Lord’s protection (Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30). As a little girl living in poverty with a divorced, addicted mother, I took on the role of HERO and wore the mask well. I was seen by everyone as a resilient achiever who could overcome the odds. As the oldest, I took care of my brothers. I did well in school. I was the first in my family to go to college. I earned scholarships and climbed the social ladder. I got married, bought a house and had kids. I excelled in my profession and earned recognition and awards. In the process of "achieving", I was that I was dying inside. Underneath the layers of success was a scared little girl who just wanted to be held, loved and protected from the arrows of the enemy (divorce, poverty, abandonment, addiction and death). My identity was tied to the views and acceptance of others. If THEY thought I was worthy, then I was worthy. If THEY thought I was not worthy, then I was not worthy. Can you imagine living like this? The emotional ups and downs were unbelievable. Maintaining long-lasting, honest relationships was very difficult. I would hop from one set of friends to another, always searching for genuine acceptance when the reality was that I was not always being 100% genuine. I've had a few relationships that have endured over the years, fortunately because they were grounded in love, with the people who encouraged me to be real. The ones who looked beyond the mask and loved me despite my faults.
Over the last two years, I have learned that I need God’s acceptance more than I need man’s acceptance. If it were not for God’s eternal, unconditional love, I don’t think I would have had the courage to let this process happen. It’s not that I’m a horrible person, but I’ve definitely had to endure shameful circumstances and have made choices that I am not proud of. In 2016, after laying ALL of my sins at the cross, God told me to “get the mold out”. After hours of bleaching my house, and praying in the spirit, I fell asleep in a state of sullen anxiety. That night, I had a dream that I was choking and then a black slug slid out of my mouth. The dream was so vivid, that I woke up and frantically looked around me, thinking that I vomited. There was nothing on the sheets. I got a glass of water and then went back to bed. When I closed my eyes, I felt lighter and purified. I wish I could say that was it. That my sins were expelled and that life was good. Unfortunately, that event activated my realization that there is a spiritual war going on right in front me. The eruption of that black slug seemed to crack open the sticky, crusty substance that had sealed my spiritual eyes shut. Prior to that event, I walked with a hard heart in spiritual blindness. I believed in God, but didn't know him. Because I didn't know him, I didn't know myself. As I gained humility through honest introspection, I began to shed the layers of falsehood and self-protection. I stood, naked before the Lord, and became the prime target of a vicious enemy. An opponent so skilled in deception that he almost convinced me to take my life to escape his assault.
Over the next few months, I took refuge under wings of my father. I literally dressed myself in the Armor of God every day. I spoke on the armor so much that when I had bad dreams I spoke on my armor in the dream! The Bible was not only my greatest defense, but it became my home. I felt like the prodigal son who finally came home. During those months, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, I learned how to replace my thoughts with His thoughts. Even when I didn’t feel worthy, I spoke out worthiness: “I am worthy because I am a Child of God.” The more I spoke truth into my spirit, the more I began to feel worthy.
I’ve recently began to study the Enneagram, a personality theory based in ancient traditional wisdom. After taking the brief test, my results showed that I’m a Type 3: The Achiever.
“Threes most basic need is to feel valued and worthy. Threes want success not so much for things that success can buy (like Sevens), or for the power and independence that it will bring (like Eights). Threes want success because they are afraid of disappearing to a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, threes fear they are a nobody and have no value. The problem is that threes can be so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what is they truly want, or what their real feelings or falseness of all kinds.” The Enneagram Institute
Today, I know that vulnerability is directly to accountability. I also know that since my priority is, first and foremost, to be accountable to the ONLY being who possesses unconditional love, that I have the freedom to be open, honest and vulnerable with myself. I am free to live without the mask. I no longer have to be everyone’s HERO. I don’t have to worry what everyone thinks of me. I don’t have to worry about disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness. I know that, regardless of the way I look or what I get recognized for, I am beautiful because HE is beautiful. I am worthy because HE is worthy.