It is only after being placed in an environment where I am encouraged to be myself that I find just how difficult that is.
In the past few months, I have embarked on a journey toward finding out who God created me to be apart from my job, my family, friends, social networks and even that nagging voice which screams lies to me whenever I allow myself to listen. Who is this person made of flesh and bone, who ambles around and utters words and feels and fights and longs and wonders? In the midst of this journey, I am faced with some very hard truths.
I have a hard time believing I am loved if I am not helping out, producing, keeping up, or achieving goals. It’s very difficult for me to listen to a friend’s issues without wanting to fix everything. It’s nearly impossible for me to go to work without striving and comparing myself to other people on the job. It’s even hard for me to enjoy being at someone’s home for dinner without feeling like I have to “earn my keep” by clearing the table or helping with the dishes. I love being the life of the party, but if someone else is filling that roll, I feel lost. I don’t know to be still.
Is this just me?
I am forever Martha, secretly resenting Mary and refusing to acknowledge just how jealous I am of her. When I am criticized, I open wide the caverns of my heart and allow the words to fall like fat rain drops into my soul, my identity. I was wrong, therefore there is something wrong with me. Those of us who struggle with this can do two things: Allow others’ words to rule over us like an evil dictator, or because that is too painful, we close our hearts completely and become like stone. Sticks and stones, we cry. Sticks and stones.
Constantly assaulted by how cool our job is, how many likes our picture got, how many views our story received, how many of our friends are married or pregnant or traveling the world, we retreat further and further into the belief that what we do is who we are.
As inconcievable as it seems, I cannot earn grace. I cannot perform my way into the embrace of Jesus. I can wrap my child brain around the love of God. He loves me, yes, I get that. But Jesus? He CHOSE me. And I had nothing to do with it. He invites me into relationship. He enjoys me.
I don’t have to be funny for him. He doesn’t have to be impressed with my work ethic. He’s not scrolling through my Facebook profile, liking statuses and commenting passive aggressive things on thoughts which were important to me.
How do I wrap my mind around the fact that I am someone worth getting to know, even if I’m not giving you something other than my presence.
Ministry has offered us cheap acceptance and temporary worth. If we volunteer enough, serve long enough, stay after everyone else has gone home, disciple enough young girls, maybe we will be accepted. Maybe then people will start asking us to lunch. If we are on he worship team long enough, maybe people will respect me as a Christian.
We cannot earn our way into this family.
The papers have already been signed. His blood has been shed. If our good works could pave the way, we would not have needed Jesus. It’s easier for me to understand salvation as a one time occurrence: I was given grace so I could become a follower of christ.
But wait, there’s more. I am given grace every minute of every day. I am carried to the table, seated where I don’t belong —-every meal of my life. My whole life is my salvation. When I wake up in the morning, before I am anything else, before I don any costume, I am a daughter. I am beloved. I am enough, because He is enough. There is no striving. I can breathe. He chose me. He wants to spend time with me. There is no striving.
Listen to to this song, and let that reality sink in. You are loved. You never have to do anything but come. You never have to fight for His affection. We don’t have to perform for you, Jesus.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
Song of Solomon 2