i’m extremely hesitant to post about this for a few reasons:
1. it’s very personal
2. i don’t want to be an exhibitionist, turning intimate spiritual struggle into a soundbite
3. i don’t want to solicit a bunch of sappy advice
but… i’ve wanted this blog, from the beginning, to be a spiritual discipline where i am honest about stuff going on in my heart and soul. and there’s some accountability in naming this (especially in this public space), that will push me to not sweep it under a rug. so:
sunday night at our home church, the person leading took us through a handful of questions, to which we were supposed to write answers on a piece of paper, then share.
first, she asked us to write down the names of 5 – 10 people we love. that was easy for me. i wrote 7 names: my wife and kids, my parents, a few really close friends. then, she asked us to write one word (or a short phrase) next to each name, describing one thing we love about that person. again, easy. fun.
then we were asked to create a new list: 5 – 10 people who love us. i just wrote the same 7 names from the first question. next, she asked us to write one word (or a short phrase) next to each name to describe what that person might say they love about us. i picked up my pen, thinking, “piece of cake,” or something along those lines. i mean, these are people i really know really love me. i am confident of their love.
but all i could come up with were things i DO for them. i started to panic. i thought harder and harder, trying different people on the list; but the only answers i could come up with were performance based. i took a deep breath, and thought to myself: “ok, think character; think personality; think stuff like that.” but with each person, my mind kept coming up with “they love me because i do x for them.” or worse, “…when i do x for them.”
eventually, i wrote a strong word on my paper to indicate my frustration.
and it only got worse from there. our final question was, “now, write a list of a few things that god would say he loves about you.” i totally panicked. i started crying. all i could think of was performance stuff. we were each given a smooth piece of stone, and told to take a sharpie and write the one thing that was most surprising about what god loves about us. and mine was blank.
now: i’m confident of god’s love. and i’m confident of the love of many people in my life. but in that moment (maybe i was tired? maybe i had gas? maybe i was reflecting on some recent journaling i’d done about childhood stuff?), i was completely stuck, and couldn’t name a single description of why god or those closest to me would love me other than what i DO. and that just sucks. majorly.
so… i’m not going to sweep this under the rug. i need to spend some time, both asking myself why this is, and becoming aware of some answers — and something to write on my little smooth stone.