“I can’t tell you just how wonderful she is. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want anyone to know.”
-F.Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
I had a weird dream this week that prompted me to ask this question of someone close to me: Do you like me?
That’s a question that’s hard to ask. I did it on the phone but I felt more like doing a little George Strait “Check yes or no” note. I was especially sorry to have asked when I received an answer that was both unexpected and disappointing. “Yes,” she said. “But, even if I didn’t, I love you, and isn’t that better?”
“But even if I didn’t?” – Maybe it was strictly hypothetical; I doubt it. I understand love and when it exists without like it is more an obligation than anything. That’s not the answer I was hoping for. That’s not the love I was expecting.
I was predisposed to believe, in this case particularly, that the answer might not be an unequivocal yes. What I did expect was a kind lie. The brutal truth was harsh and cold, a slap to my sensitive face. I questioned how I could appeal as a friend to other people when my own family finds me unlikable.
This came after a particularly nasty exchange with an in law who called me names and was unkind – viciously so. I didn’t deserve their vitriol and I didn’t accept their characterization of me. I did worry though that others might. What if I’m kind of unlikable and this person makes it even easier for people to stop trying?
Then, I took a xanax and told myself that my anti-depressant dosage is changing and any adjustment to my meds is likely to magnify my insecurity.
I’d like to say that my “help came from the Lord” – and it did, if we consider that His perfect plan included my own version of mother’s little helper.
But once I’d settled down emotionally I spent some time reminding myself that my worth doesn’t come from my family. It doesn’t come from my friends, or even from a count of how many friends I have. The size of my community doesn’t represent my value. My worth comes from the Lord (I’ve been singing this to the tune of “Praise You in this Storm” for a week now). My worth is as a daughter of the King. I stumbled upon this post and I highly recommend it. It’s far more eloquent than my own with a much more visual illustration.
I also had a timely post from Ann Voskamp pop in my facebook feed today where she lovingly reminded me that God created me as a unique woman – that no one else can be me, no one else can fulfill my purpose. Being someone else is as being someone who does not exist at all. I will be uncomfortable and without purpose that way. He created me with all my awkward flaws and and my imperfect edges. And yet, He loves me with a perfect love. He surrounds me with people who are able to see that worth through my terrible jokes and inappropriate irreverence. He created F. Scott Fitzgerald to write “This Side of Paradise” and this line: “I can’t tell you just how wonderful she is. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want anyone to know.”
I want to be that woman. I don’t want anyone to see the work of my hands but Him. If my worth here on earth can’t be valued by humankind, that’s ok. I know my worth and I know my motive. And I know that He knows. So I need to stop dwelling in the place where the opinions of others influence my sense of worth. I need to stop assuming everyone waits for me to walk away before letting the fun begin. I need to recognize that I am perfectly me, which no one else is qualified to be.
And I can’t wait to be welcomed into Beulah with His open arms saying “I like you, very much, just as you are”. Because really, that’s what every woman wants to hear.
“You are precious and honored in my sight…” (Isaiah 43:4a, NIV)
I don’t usually struggle so much as I have this week. A sense of duty (to God and the Christian life, not necessarily to my nephew) led my husband and I to have our nephew stay with us this week. I drove him to school every day and my husband picked him up. After school I helped with homework – even common core math, which gave me some truly thrilling moments. I wrestled with remembering what it was like to be 12, to be in fifth grade. And even if I could remember that far back, my memories aren’t fraught with the conflicts and circumstances that are challenging my nephew today.
I wish I could say that I felt overwhelmed with love and found it easy to make the sacrifices, petty as they may seem, to care for my nephew. I’d be lying. It’s easy to make it sound magnanimous, which it isn’t, and to gloss over the heart changes I’m still trying to effect in myself. I know I didn’t spend enough time in prayer. I know Jesus is here with me and will give me the strength and patience that I need to be whoever it is I’m being called to be. And I know that God is at work – I am merely a resource He is using for His greater good. Yet, I’m so tired. I feel like I’m treading water, and moments when my head stays up are few and far between with this kid. He is moody and whiny, ungrateful and unresponsive. He’s also young and bright, too often unloved, too little cared for.
I shared with true friends today how my mind was whirring – believing that God is looking for someone to step up in his life. Knowing each day I’m hoping that when I make the offer to help, it will be rebuffed, because this is hard. Being absolutely real. I’m so grateful to them for the loving hug. Affection I receive freely. Affection I can’t seem to naturally extend to my nephew.
So then I read this article on legalism. My situation is the perfect example of one of the points about sin. I don’t want people to see the effort I am making and believe the good. It’s a mirage. My heart is struggling with this situation and I can’t say I’ve submitted to God’s will here. Outwardly I am doing what I think is right. But inside, where the heart suffers sins no one can see, I’m guilty. The article says:
“The point is that some people can and do have so many sins in their heart, even though they may not have many sins of the flesh. Sins of the heart are easy to hide. Sins of the flesh are not so easy to hide. Because of this those with sins of the heart normally don’t get a scarlet “A” on their shirt. And because of this, they feel as if they can draw attention to other people’s sins while ignoring their own. How much would the world change if we all walked around with all our sins printed on our shirt. At the very least, humility would abound.” – C.Michael Patton
And then quotes C.S.Lewis:
The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.
I’m still praying. I’ve asked God to forgive me for asking him to wet the fleece, even as I prepare to wake and check it. I don’t know if I am strong enough to sustain my family with this challenge. I don’t know if I am prepared to submit to His perfect will. I know that when I do I will find the peace that is eluding me at present. I know God tells me his burden is light. I know that sharing the truth, pasting my sins on my shirt so to speak, may be the only way to salvage my humility and spiritual health. After all, who can speak truth to me if I hide my sin? Who can remind me of all the things I already know? Who can hold me accountable to the ravings of an exhausted, churning heart that wishes there was an easier way?
I’m praying that Jesus grabs hold of my heart and shines his light when I’m too weary. I’m praying that I accept the fleece, wet or dry, as the sign of God’s perfect will. I’m praying that my nephew will feel the love and acceptance of Jesus in my arms and in my home, no matter what comes tomorrow.
I am constantly creating. Most of the time what I create is for meeting a specific purpose and this printable is no exception. My ladies group has been requesting an updated prayer calendar and after some time pondering how best to go about making one, I came up with this “perpetual prayer calendar“. I took it a little farther for my girls, but I think this lavender delight will be a great way to plan out your prayer time with God.
There is a block for all 31 days – you simply start over at day 1 every month. Our ladies have it set so that every one is praying for someone different each day – and everyone is being prayed for each day. It’s a huge encouragement and it keeps us close throughout the week.
I’d love if you “like” my facebook page or “follow” my blog – but I hope no matter what that this content encourages you in the faith.
Here’s the link: Perpetual Prayer Calendar download
Thanks for reading!
I love Top Gun. The movie became a recruitment tool for the US Navy – I seriously considered it as a career path myself. I hope not because of the movie but if we’re being honest, that’s probably it. Thank goodness I’m so terrible at calculus the navy took a pass on me.
Recent pop culture references to the movie, which are fantastic, have set me to reminiscing over the finer moments in the film. I remember after Goose dies (I warned you!) and Maverick has to get back in the air, he freezes and Iceman panics – shouting “Maverick’s disengaging!”.
As all fans of the movie, of course I identify as Maverick. I disengage all the time. Every time my phone rings, I have to talk myself into answering it. I get a text and spend so long pondering my answer that I forget and leave it delivered, read, and without a response. Don’t even get me started on my dysfunctional pattern of face to face interaction – with people I like! I’m wired to prefer solitude. I’m afraid of rejection and inferiority and gosh, politeness.
This year I resolved only two simple things, as outlined in Auld Lang Syne
1. Give more.
Give recklessly of time, money, love, friendship, and affection.
2. Have less.
Hang onto what matters. Let go of what doesn’t.
So, since these resolutions are based in my faith, and I’ve been working through a plan to completely read through the Bible in 90 days AND in a year, I get constant reinforcement of the notion of community. God made us to live in community and to love other people.
So what I need is Iceman, shouting out when I’m disengaging. Has anyone ever called the Holy Spirit “Iceman” before?
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 the Messsage