Have you ever tried to impress somebody? Like when you were in middle school and wore too much eyeliner so that maybe, just maybe you'd look cool enough to get invited to an eighth grade sleepover? Or when you got your first job, and you worked late hours to prove to your boss that you were competent? I know I've applied way too many layers of eye makeup , and I've also done backflips to try to get my boss's attention. And while I may have felt admiration for the people I was trying to impress - I never loved them. In fact, I sort of resented them for not liking me the way I was.
A couple of days ago, I realized that God was a popular eighth grade girl - at least in my eyes. He was the boss man. He was somebody whose approval I desperately wanted. But for weeks - or maybe even months now - a nasty little feeling has been creeping into my thoughts and my soul. It's the feeling of distance from God. And though I tried to claw my way back by pretending my thoughts were selfless and my intentions were pure, I felt so far away from him. I felt like he didn't want me anymore because I wasn't measuring up. So I tried to make myself look more attractive, like the sixth grade girl sneaking a third coat of mascara in the bathroom. I tried to be selfless and kind and pure and humble. But it didn't work. I wasn't fooling Him and I wasn't fooling me. And while I flailed and failed, resentment began taking up residence in my heart.
I was overwhelmed by my own sinfulness. I couldn't see anything except that. God became too good for me when I wasn't looking. And I couldn't love someone who didn't accept me, because I didn't feel like I could be vulnerable with him. I had to pretend to be pretty and pure to protect myself.
Not much felt different this Sunday morning. Ethan had to leave early and so I had the house to myself. I poured myself a cup of coffee, and, upon seeing what a beautiful morning it was, decided to drink it on the deck. I brought out my Bible because I remembered God probably loves people who read their Bible. But I couldn't focus on the words. So I closed it and just sat, silently admiring all of nature buzzing vibrantly around me. I must have let my guard down. Maybe I was too tired to pretend I was perfect. Maybe I was just enjoying the morning so much that I forgot myself for a moment. But when I did, something happened. I had an epiphany, of sorts. I suddenly realized that my desire to impress God had been holding me hostage. This morning, he didn't like me less because I couldn't focus on the words in my Bible. He didn't like me less because I wanted to sit in silence. I realized that I had been right about one thing - God was not impressed with me. Because he didn't need to be. He has given me grace instead of approval for my actions. He loves me. He made me. He knew from the very beginning of time that I would sin and that I could never be perfect, so he sent Jesus to die and make me clean. I don't have to feel messy, because in his eyes, I'm not. I'm just me, and I'm loved.
God is not impressed with you, and he is not impressed with me. He is something even better - he is in love with us.