My friend Brittany sent me an instant message. “Hello, Lovely,” it started.
Another close friend told me that she appreciates me and she’s glad she knows me.
At the neighborhood park down the street, many parents were out with their children. Cami snagged a spot on a swing, and I moved over to sit on the bench nearby. I was fighting this cold or flu nastiness, and I really didn’t feel good. It was such a warm day, though, and sunny, that I just couldn’t make Cami stay inside.
This beautiful young woman came over to me and said, “Hi, Candi. I just wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your music at Breakaway.” I immediately cringed inwardly. It turns out this lady has lived a block away from me for over three years, has been coming to Breakaway, our church’s weekly women’s Bible study, and attended the women’s retreat. (I helped to lead worship in all three situations.) My first thoughts were to examine my body language and vocal utterances during the minutes preceding her approach. Did I cuss? Was I Snippy Mom with Cami? Then I looked at the way I was dressed: not very snazzy: old capris with a floppy shirt someone gave me—you know, clothes I wear when I think I’m not going to see anyone I know.
I stood there and talked to Kelly, who then introduced me to her husband, who just happened to come home from work early. My daughter was so thrilled. “Hey, Mommy! Looks like you made some new friends too this time!”
When we got home from the park, I had to call my friend Melisa and tell her about meeting Kelly and Todd, small world and all that. The message I was hearing from the meeting was “You’re never anonymous. You can’t hide.” Kelly even said a few times, “You’re a celebrity.” (Joking, of course.) (I’m not really famous.)
You know what Melisa said to me? “You see how He’s slobbering all over you, right?” reminding me of how I had asked God to touch my face, to let me know He loves me. And it struck me: I didn’t look at the meeting with Kelly as a hug from God, or as an affirmation that I matter, that I’m making a difference, that I’m effective for the Kingdom.
I looked at the meeting as another opportunity to count all the ways I don’t measure up. I deflected everything she said. Every blessing she spoke over me, I patted nicely on the head (in the name of humility?) and thought, “That’s nice of you to say.” But felt nothing.
I do that a lot. I reject God’s hugs and affirmation. I deflect verbal blessings. I negate warm encouragement, words that say, “You’re doing a good job.”
In John 17, when Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prays for “all who will ever believe in [Him] because of [the disciples’] testimony” (v. 20). He says He’s given us the glory that God the Father gave Him (v. 22). He says He wants us to be with Him, to see His glory (v. 24). Jesus’ glory on earth was messy. Bloody. Painful. But out of that messy, bloody, painful cross came my salvation, my transformation, my beauty. And my beauty is Jesus’ beauty. When someone holds up a mirror in front of me, to reflect His glory and beauty in me, and I deflect it, I desecrate everything He did on the cross. I pollute His glory that He has given me. I negate the work that He is doing in me. Yuck! Oh, Lord, please forgive me!
It isn’t about just accepting compliments gracefully. It’s really about accepting His grace, and the verbal blessings He gives me over and over through the people around me. It’s about believing Him, and believing His Word:
For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son. . .And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And He gave them right standing with Himself, and He promised them His glory. (Romans 8:29-30)
For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in His glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin, your spirit is ALIVE because you have been made right with God. (Romans 8:10, capitalization mine)
So I choose to live. And believe. And revel in the love My Father pours out on me daily.
I choose to model for my daughter what it looks like to live loved.