Monday, July 20, 2020

Approved!


Do you ever feel unloveable? Feel like there must be something wrong with you that makes it so people don’t like you? Wonder what it is that makes other people so popular and you so...not? Think there’s no way God could love you, you’re nowhere good enough? Remember incredibly stupid things you said or did and lambast yourself for being such an idiot, then conclude whoever was present at the time will never like or respect you again? 

I sure do! Anyone I talk to about it shares the same kinds of thoughts and feelings at times. For myself, it often comes up in the middle of the night. Why in the world does the thought, “Mavis, how could you have been so stupid?” have to be the first thought that springs to mind at 3 AM? It is not helpful. Inwardly I squirm and cringe, reliving the words I said, imagining the thoughts of those who heard them. I feel the heat radiating from my blushing face, even as I lie alone in the dark.

I read this article in a newsletter I subscribe to. I liked the way the author, Jonathan Rogers, talked about love as not just that warm and fuzzy feeling, but also as assent and approval. 

We can mean a lot of different things when we use the word "love." I love my wife and family. I love Jesus. I love watermelon. I love good books. I'm not misusing the word "love" in any of those sentences, but neither does the word mean quite the same thing in any of those sentences. What all of those usages share is the idea of approval. And, as Pieper writes:

This [approval] is first of all to be taken in the literal sense of the word's root: loving someone or something is to find him or it probus, the Latin word for "good." It is a way of turning to him or it and saying, "It's good that you exist; it's good that you're in the world!" (p. 163-4, Faith, Hope, and Love by Josef Pieper.)

The words “Jesus loves you” or “God is love” can seem kind of trite. Right, right, whatever. It’s kind of like when I as a mom tell one of my kids that they’re beautiful or handsome. It doesn’t really count in their minds. The author of this article says, “But let us not lose sight of this most fundamental fact: This world exists because God thinks it is a good idea.”

In the creation story, each day God looks at the new things that have come into being -- the moon, the sun, the land, the water, the plants and trees, the fishes and creatures in the sea, the birds in the sky, the wild animals, and, finally, mankind. The refrain of that poetic story is, “And God saw that it was good,” and at the end, “God saw all that he had made, and it was good.”

We all screw up. We say and do things we shouldn’t. We need to be sorry for those things and ask forgiveness from those we hurt. Sometimes those harmful things have big consequences. We do need to wrestle with them, not brush them off. But always, always, every moment, God loves us. He thinks we are a good idea. You are a good idea. God is glad you exist. I am, too.

What can I pray about for you?

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