By Elisheba Haxby

Fully and Utterly Loved

Even the Ugly Parts

A few weeks ago, I had a dream that I was about to preach to a congregation, but I had no message prepared. In a moment of desperation, I prayed to God, asking for guidance on what to share with my people. And in a clear and gentle voice, He spoke to my heart, “Tell them it’s time to ‘know’ that they are perfectly loved. There’s nothing they can do, and there’s nothing they cannot do to change that. It’s time for my people to know that they are fully and utterly loved, for that is where they will find their victory.”

As I woke up, these words lingered in my mind, and I couldn’t shake off the feeling that they were meant for more than just a dream. It has been a challenging few months for me. So much has been revealed inside my heart, and it’s been painful and ugly at times. But as I reflected on God’s message, I realized that I’ve been punishing the uglier parts of myself, trying to hide or push them away. But the truth is, those parts are part of me, and they need love and acceptance just like any other part.

Around the same time, I had the dream, I stumbled upon something that really resonated with me. Robert Downey Jr. was giving a speech about his journey to sobriety, and he shared something that hit deep. He said that when he was struggling to get sober, Mel Gibson told him, “You need to find faith in God, and then you need to begin to embrace the ugly parts of yourself. He called it ‘hugging the cactus.’”

And I believe that’s what God is asking us to do. To embrace the parts of ourselves that we try to hide or deny, and to love them with the same love and acceptance that God has for us. I’m not saying we should excuse our bad behavior, but to be curious in those moments as to why we acted that way. What is in us that is driving us to be angry or eat away out feelings?

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37–39 NLT

I know it’s not always easy to love ourselves, especially when we’re struggling with our own insecurities and flaws. But the more we practice self-love and self-acceptance, the more we can heal and grow. It’s not about pretending that our flaws don’t exist, but about learning to see them as a part of who we are and loving ourselves as Christ love us.

I hope this message finds you well and that you’re taking care of yourself. Remember, you are loved and deserving of love, no matter what. Keep hugging that cactus, my friend!

With love and blessings,

Elisheba Haxby