This is a true story.

My father had commissioned a local artist to paint an original piece of artwork for his office. For Christmas, he asked me if I would have this particular piece professionally framed for him as his Christmas gift. At the time, I was nine months pregnant with my son. This appeared to be the most straightforward Christmas gift on my list to get. I readily agreed to the task and took my father’s newest painting into my care. It was a small painting. How hard could it be?

When the time came to bring the painting to the frame shop to be measured, I could not find it anywhere. I was convinced that I had left it on the dining room table but the painting had gone missing. I searched every room of my home and every inch of my car. I even went through my kitchen garbage, just in case someone might have thrown it out.  It was nowhere to be found and I was properly freaking out.  This one-of-kind masterpiece was lost under my watch and now I would have to tell my father.

I had failed the one Christmas task my father gave me.

Then I remembered that in the parking lot outside our home was a dumpster. Perhaps someone had thrown out the little painting by mistake. And the garbage bag that it was in had already been put in the dumpster. The only logical thing to do was simply go and check. Obviously. 

 At nine months pregnant, I pulled a small chair to the side of the dumpster.

I stepped up on the chair and lifted the lid of the dumpster only to be met with the most horrifying rotting smell I have ever experienced.

I held my breath and then jumped in. Yes, I jumped into the dumpster. 

As I began to tear into the trash bags around me, my panic began to grow inside of me. What if I couldn’t find the painting? What if I had really failed? 

I reached for the next trash bag to pick through when I heard a loud hissing sound behind me. His beady eyes met mine and I screamed. “AHHHHHHHH! A possum!”  I began to jump around inside the dumpster, trying to claw my way up the sides. All the movement caused the lid of the dumpster to fall back down. 

I was literally trapped inside of the dumpster with piles of rotting food and an angry possum who clearly felt I had invaded his territory. 

Stuck inside this pitch black dumpster, the hissing began to grow louder and I fell back onto a pile of trash bags that, consequently, disturbed a squirrel’s nest buried the rubbish. Squirrels began to scatter about within the dumpster. They were crawling onto my arms and into my hair. I was screaming for help but no one heard. I jumped as I high as I could and punched the dumpster’s lid as hard as possible. Miraculously, it flew open and I hoisted my nine-month pregnant body over the side of the dumpster. I was free at last, but not unscathed from the experience.

There were scratches on my arms and neck from the squirrels. I smelled like death. My hand was sore from punching the dumpster lid. I was traumatized and defeated. As I walked into my home to head straight to the shower, something caught the corner of my eye. Sitting on a dining room chair, was the painting. I nearly could have died.

When Christmas came, I handed the framed painting to my father and told him the whole story... about the fiasco with dumpster and the possum and the crazed squirrels. I thought that maybe he would he think it was funny or just that I was plain crazy but all he said was, 

 “Did you forget you were my daughter? Did you forget that your well-being is more important to me than a painting?”

 I was stunned by his response, but then realized his question was valid. Why I had allowed panic to drive me to dumpster dive for a lost painting? The answer was simple: I was afraid to fail. 

When “getting the job done” is how I define my value, I will always be petrified of failing. I am a doer.  When I cannot “do,” then I believe I am of no value. 

When I define my value by who I am, a daughter, failing is not so scary. My dad loves me.  In fact, if I can fail before anyone...it’s my dad. He doesn’t value me for what I do. He values me because I am his daughter.

I am God’s daughter. I am not His doer. I am not a slave that He bosses around. I am not His employee that He assigns tasks to. Before anything else, I am His daughter.

God invites me to be a part of His plan because He loves me.

He gives me purpose because He wants to and not because I need to prove my value to Him.

Before I lift a finger to do anything, I am loved by Him, because He’s my Dad. <<Click to Tweet

For many years, I have been running around trying to be a good “doer” for God. I thought the more I “do,” the more He will be happy with me. This has only driven me to anxiety and burnout. I begin to feel unnecessarily like I am trapped within a vicious cycle, frightened to make one mistake or let Him down.

But I am His daughter. I am not His do-er. Nothing I do or don’t do can change that fact.

1 John 3: 1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

This is a true story:  I am God’s daughter. His love for me has nothing to do with what I can do, but has everything to do with what He has done for me.


Noelle is married to her best friend, Troy, and mama to two of the most hilarious human beings to exist: Silas and Olive Pearl. She and her family reside in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, as missionaries. When she is not wrangling her children or beating her husband in a game of Scrabble, you would probably find her doing laundry.

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photo credit: Dumpster via photopin (license)

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