“Mommy, do you love the baby more than me?” my soon to be 7 year old asks with curious eyes. “I love all of you girls the same amount.”
“Well, you seem like you like her better. You always talk nice to her and you never get mad at her.”
“She’s a baby. She doesn’t do anything wrong yet.”
The implication is plain. “But I do,” she is thinking. She is thinking about how she does do things wrong. She is thinking about how I do speak sternly to her when she disobeys. She is thinking about how much she doesn’t like mommy to be disappointed with her.
After a long while she comes back to me with a perfectly completed math paper. “I want you to be happy to me, Mommy.” She is performance driven because she believes it produces love and approval.
This is a girl after my own heart. She craves praise. She seeks approval. She lives to please. She often wonders whether she is truly loved.
She is wrong. I am wrong. True love is not earned and it cannot be lost. Children learn what they live and old habits die hard, though.
She stubs her toe. She cries and immediately apologizes. “Why are you sorry?” “Because I’m trying not to cry.” “Why?” “Because I don’t like to.”
She doesn’t like to cry because she doesn’t like to fail; to show her pain; to reveal her true feelings. She fears rejection.
I guess that’s the six year old in us all. All the time trying to be brave when what we really need is to be honest. Always trying to be strong when all we are is desperately weak. We fear rejection. We fear disapproval. We fear judgement. We fear being misrepresented.
I consider our fears and facades. I file my scattered thoughts from last night’s Bible study alongside the words I am about to speak tonight at a church. We spoke about the lack of transparency and honest confession to one another. I am preparing to share my own life’s journey from death to life in Christ very candidly. It is kind of ironic that these two realities have presented themselves at the very same time.
It is difficult to be honest about our own struggles, fears, weaknesses, and failures. The reason it is difficult is because information is power; being vulnerable is risky. We fear rejection. We fear disapproval. We fear judgement. We fear being misrepresented.
We fear. Fear, fear, fear, fear. Fear is not what God is doing. Fear is what we are doing. Faith is what God is doing. Maybe that is why God wants us to tell about what he has done. Maybe that’s why he wanted me to tell my story in this particular way…
Here is how my story begins:
“I want to begin by saying, “I know.” “I understand.” Just like I say to my baby when she sobs. Not to puff myself up with any knowledge I have gained from these trials but to identify with all of you and your stories – to be able to sympathize with and love well those who have struggled in one or more of these areas. Not only that I know, but that God knows. Your sisters in Christ know. But sometimes we are just too afraid and ashamed and full of pain to tell one another our stories. Sometimes it just hurts too much to talk to each other or even God about the things we are going through. So we just don’t. And no one knows. And we’re all alone in agony, in shame, is despair, in misery. We look so polished and pretty one the outside but we are dying on the inside. At least that’s how my story went.”
…and here is how my story ends:
“I cannot pretend I’m the good Christian girl I look like on the outside. I’m not shiny. I’m a wretch. God saved me and I have to tell someone how good he is. I have to tell you that I know that life is hard. I understand the pain that life brings. I have felt it in so many areas. Life hurts a lot. I still struggle with feelings of great insecurity and deep rejection. I take everything personally because I am skeptical of everyone who says they love me. But I am growing. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my family, my church, and my heavenly father love me. I could not say that with any amount of confidence before these tragic events over the past few years. That’s how I can be thankful for them all.
No one is beyond redemption. None of us deserve grace. Give it anyway. And trust that God is just.”
God does not love anyone more than he loves you and me. We are all his babies. We do do things wrong but those things do not keep him from loving us. True love is not earned and it cannot be lost.
So tell your story. Be real. Be weak. Be honest. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Be faithful even when you are afraid because God is glorified by the truth. He is worthy of our trust and he will take care of those who are not.