Recently I was on vacation in Sanibel Island in Florida. Sanibel and its neighbor Captiva are called the Shell Islands and are known for the best shelling in the world.

After watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico, I headed out to the beach to find those treasures from the sea. As I slowly walked down the beach I was bent over trying to spot those perfect shells. I looked specifically for the ones that had unique colors and were totally intact, perfectly shaped, and undamaged. I spotted my first one, but after closer inspection found a small chip at the bottom so I tossed it back down and returned to my search. It was at that moment that I felt the smile of God over my shoulder as he also looked at the vast amount of shells under my feet, from which I was choosing only the flawless. In the typical, conversational style that I have with my Father, I chuckled and told him that he wouldn’t be very good at shelling because he would pick up every one of them, pronouncing them perfect and totally loved. Just like he does with people!

Earlier that same morning, I had been reminded of the Father’s love when I read this verse: What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. (1 John 3:1, MSG)

Our true identity is that we are daughters and sons of a very loving Father. And when he looks at us he doesn’t see chips, bruises, or imperfections, he sees his children. There is nothing we have to prove or achieve in either accomplishments or physical looks that will make a difference in whether the Father will pick us up and keep us or toss us back into the pile of discarded and unwanted “shells.” No, we are picked up, chosen, and then invited into every blessing he has already prepared and supplied for us.

Let this truth come into the core of who you are as a daughter of God. Don’t believe the lie that your Heavenly Father’s love is conditional. Believing that lie will lead you into a prison of doubt and fear. Instead, celebrate in your true identity as a marvelously loved child of God – that’s who you really are!