I know I’m missing the second part of my series If I Had Kids, but I felt I should share this first after a conversation with a friend of mine.
My friend was telling me, “I’m trying to do so much but I feel so far away. I know I need Him but there are so many distractions. It’s like I can’t do enough.” As she was explaining to me how she felt about her relationship with God, I could almost picture myself not very long ago having exactly the same frustration. I’m sure many others have had this same gnawing feeling. I’m talking about the feeling of not doing enough for God.
The Root of Our Insecurity
This feeling of not being good enough is rooted in the standards and comparisons we find in society. This need to be impressive, to be attractive, comes from a very simple-minded equation that most of us have believed at some point: Be impressive, be excellent, be handsome or pretty, be successful, be as amazing as you can be so that you can attract someone who is equally amazing. Sounds fair right? We think this is also the formula to a great relationship:
Impressive partner + impressive partner = relational bliss.
This is why we are so easily attracted to seemingly “excellent” people. We have so many people on pedestals – many of them we really know nothing about other than what their PR agencies have released. But in this world of impressing and impressing, when someone no longer impresses us, and of course this will be the people you know best because you’ve gotten close enough, we feel like they’re not keeping their part of the deal.
We, the Impressive partner + them, the un-impressive partner = feelings of being shortchanged.
The problem with this is everyone, and everyone means everyone, isn’t anywhere close to the impressiveness they project. That includes me. I never post anything that I know will pull me down. I don’t post pictures of me taking a crap, or recordings of my snoring, or my clumsy kitchen work. I post poems, and drawings, and thoughts that took weeks to work on. So we’re actually in an internal back and forth of wanting to be impressive to deserve something impressive, but knowing we’re not actually that impressive, but still trying to project, still trying to expect to be impressed by someone, until we’re burnt out and jaded.
And all of a sudden, God comes into the picture and: You’re not the impressive one anymore.
Like with my friend, who in her past relationships, the guys were the lucky ones to have her. Now she was in a new spot: she was lucky to have God. Not only are you not the impressive one, you’re so so so far from His level. He’s more beautiful than you. He’s kinder than you, more generous. He’s more talented than you, more powerful. He’s lovelier than you, more respected.
He’s everything you want and everything you wish you could be.
But you know you need His love.
You know that no one has ever loved you this much.
That there has never been love this real.
So you do things the only way you know how: you work it.
You try to be impressive, to Him and to others who know you and Him, that they may may be impressed that you are His. You try to fix the equation of your relationship: God the beautiful + you, the reclamation project = ? It doesn’t make sense to us anymore. How am I going to keep this relationship if I don’t keep impressing Him enough to stay, to love me? Why will He want me if I’m not the pretty one? So we try harder. And harder. We try harder because we’re afraid to lose, to not deserve this beautiful person.
Until we get tired and out of pride say, “I’m tired of earning this! I don’t need this! All this does is make me feel ugly.” or in fear say, “I can’t meet the standard. I’m afraid I’m going to lose this. It’s not worth even trying. I’m never going to be beautiful enough.” Either way, we lose the most real love we have ever known.
But here’s a truth that may help you escape this trap of pride and fear: God doesn’t need a perfect you but He does want all of you.
God is perfect, and if He simply wanted perfect people, He would have made robots. But He wants love and a necessary ingredient to love is choice, and choice can only happen in a world of freedom – which includes the freedom to choose someone else.
Are we so proud to think that we can do anything to make us as beautiful or as impressive or as deserving as God? It will never happen.
But God’s equation is not like the world’s equation of love. It’s so different from mine and yours and that’s why we have such a hard time with it.
This is His equation: God + You = Relational Bliss
God removes the labels that make us deserve or not-deserve something. He simply wants us to run to Him. Even when He disciplines us and prunes our lives, it’s not to make us impressive but to remove the things that hurt us and keep us from becoming the beautiful person He sees in us.
Until our relationships go from: Impressive person + Impressive Person = Relational Bliss to God + Me = Relational Bliss it will always hit a point of frustration because it is so tiring to keep trying to be the pretty one when you know deep down you’re really not the pretty one here.
Yet, there is an embrace that awaits those who humble themselves and say, “God, You are most beautiful. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for accepting dirty, ugly, pretentious me, and marrying me despite the suffering and shame I cause You because of my wrong decisions. I really don’t understand but I’ll trust You because I believe in You.”
When we acknowledge God is most beautiful that is worship. When we thank Him that is gratefulness. God doesn’t need anything from us, but I’m sure He enjoys embracing us, looking into our eyes, as we say, “You’re so amazing. I love You so much. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You for loving me.” This is the beautiful irony we find ourselves in. While we know we’re not the pretty one in this relationship, we feel more beautiful than ever because of this amazing love. Now if only we could get the nagging pride and fear out of the way.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
You take me higher up Your mountain
And carve deeper into my soul
You show me wonders so beautiful
You unearth the buried things in me
I am more and more a stranger
A pilgrim in a foreign land
I do not desire what this world desires
I do not praise what they praise
And I am disdained for the difference
Mocked for the strangeness of conviction
Every failure is highlighted
My steps in full spotlight
Let them condemn for I have sinned
Let them gnash for I have failed
Let them walk away from my repugnance
Let them lay their convictions
I know, and I see, that my Savior comes
My defender is my redeemer
My lover is my avenger
You protect those who call Your name
You shelter those who accept Your embrace
I will be patient and wait for Your deliverance
I will not settle for less than You
Though I walk hungry today
I take pleasure in the expectation of Your feast
Though I fight alone today
I find joy in taking on Your standard
To wait for You is beautiful to me
To put all my hopes in You secures me
Though I sink lower in honour in this world
I find fulness of joy with You on Your mountain
I had not felt it for a while, His pleasure I mean. I felt my own, I felt the recognition, the admiration of others, but true pleasure, to feel that someone is utterly, completely pleased with me was elusive.
I stopped feeling His pleasure when I made Him a means to pleasure and fulfillment. When figuring out His principles to arrive at my dream place and position was more important that seeing Him, the person of Christ.
Most guilty am I of doing this to my relationship with God.
I had demoted Him in my heart.
I desired the blessing, forgot the blesser, and missed the blessing altogether because the blessing is Him.
I desired the promise more than the promise-giver, and let go of the promise anyway when the reality of my doubts proved more convincing, forgetting that He who promised is faithful.
Now, like the day pushing back the night, the dark shroud covering the miracles of my life is removed by the light, revealing the handiwork of providence. As I follow this light to its source, I am more and more blinded by the brightest prisms beaming from the most glorious of grooms.
“Walk down the aisle”, He invites.
Yet I’ve walked this before, as a child, as an adolescent, many times in my young life.
As if hearing my thoughts, I hear Him speak:
“But you have been an unfaithful bride. How many times have you run away and chosen to be pleasured by others? How many times have you rejected my joy to enjoy the compliments of liars and thieves? How many times have you chosen the practical advice of those who cannot save instead of my promises too grand for you?”
In humble admission, in shame, I can only reply, “I cannot deny what You say is true. I have been a fool to exchange the goodness You gave for my pride, fear, and impatience. I am lost. I see I have brought on my own pain. Why then are we here? Is it my punishment to look at Your glory forever and be reminded in every cell of my body that I miss You and no longer have You?”
“Walk down the aisle.” Is His response. “Renew Your vows to me as I have renewed my vows to You.”
And in this cosmic ceremony, as the universe asks this righteous King, “Do You take this harlot to be thy bride?” I hear His most reassuring voice in a two word promise, “I do”.
Sheer pleasure arrives as I hide in His love. Gone forevermore is the sinner. I am embraced as His bride.