“I give up!” I said out loud. Exactly one week ago today, I had just read the part where God said if we don’t love our brother, whom we have seen, how can we love God, whom we have not seen, or something like that. I knew I wasn’t loving my brother as I should.
It reminded me of all those other things I can’t live up to, like obeying, not being double-minded, having faith, not doubting, being perfect. That last one always gets me. Perfect? Really? I can’t even be even halfway good, much less perfect. He knows that.
So I just gave up. “I can’t do it,” I said. So many conditions for asking and receiving — abiding, obeying, not doubting. Something about a double-minded man not thinking he shall receive anything from the Lord. It’s too much. “I’m just at your mercy, Lord,” I sighed. And even then, in the back of my mind, the thought arose . . . “Maybe this is what He wants . . . for me to acknowledge how bereft I am . . .” I think I still wasn’t getting it.
There’s just no way to figure out what God is doing. “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Okay, whatever.
Fast forward a bit. No, change the tape altogether. Tape? Seriously? Okay, the cd. This new guy, Bruno Mars, I like his song “Just the Way You Are.” Very romantic and sweet. He is telling his girlfriend how amazing she is just the way she is. He wouldn’t change a thing. Isn’t that what we all want to hear? That we’re okay, just as we are? In fact, not just okay, but beautiful?
Could that be the way God feels about us?
Wow! I think it is. We can give up on ever fulfilling requirements or meeting conditions. That’s grace! And freedom! But wait . . . what about all that other stuff I was talking about? Just abandon all that? How can I “just be me” in light of the fact that I know “me” so very well?
Ironically (and this is the beauty and the awe of it) God’s unconditional love and acceptance creates in us the desire to be more than we are. I don’t remember too many movie lines, but this one stuck with me: “You make me wanna be a better man.” (Jack Nicholson to Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets). Not a perfect man, but a better man.
The miracle of God’s love is that even as it frees us to be ourselves, it makes us “wanna be a better self.” Not out of obligation or duty or fear or self-interest, but inexplicably — “just because.” And after all . . .
Who can explain love? Who would want to? It just IS.
Who can explain God? Who would want to? He just IS.
“God IS love.”
All those questions I was plagued by . . . the ones about asking and receiving . . . well, they somehow become moot in the light of God’s perfect love. He loves us just the way we are. What more could we want?
Happy Valentine’s Day!