The second the felt-tip ink hit my hipster moleskin journal, I knew something was up. Now uncapped and unleashed, sentence after sentence sprinted from my hand and across the page like a spoiled kid writing his dissertation of a Christmas list to Santa. The pen was angry and tired, yet it pressed on and on until, as usual, the root of the problem presented itself in the form of an annoyingly simple question:
God, are you proud of me?
I glared at the white popcorn ceiling in my bedroom expecting an instantaneous response. *cricket, cricket* So I slammed my journal shut in a teenage tantrum and pressed my face deep into the cold pillow until I fell asleep.
24 hours came and went and again I found myself writing the same question.
God, are you proud of me?
I stared up expectantly. Still nothing. A few moments of angry contemplation. Then, a new question:
How would you know if God is proud of you?
Silence. Angry slamming of journal. Face-pressing in the pillow.
This cycle has been going on for an embarrassing number of days. The truth is, I don’t really have anyone in my life telling me they’re proud of me and, for the most part, I never have. I haven’t seen my own dad in over a decade and my mom tends to drift in and out of being present in my world depending on the season. The frustrating part of deep-seeded pain is it always finds its way to the surface, no matter how many times you try to whack-a-mole it back down.
Why would God love me? Why would someone who created the earth want to know me or be with me? It doesn’t make sense. I have nothing to offer. I haven’t accomplished anything. Suddenly I realized I was laying in my tiny, old back bedroom, 7 years old, trying with all my might to accomplish love. If I do this right, maybe I will earn love. If I do something worthwhile, someone will notice and be proud of me.
[Why would God love me? Why would someone who created the earth want to know me or be with me? It doesn’t make sense. I have nothing to offer.]
Yet God’s love doesn’t work like that. There is no way to earn His affection. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less. A new-born baby has done nothing to deserve love, it simply is loved because it’s alive. That is how God feels about you (and me, apparently) beaming with pride for no other reason than we are His creation. And that is the most incredible thing in the world.
So he got up and went to his father. ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. – Luke 15:20 NIV
If you have any doubt about how God feels about you, read the rest of Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son. It’s all there. If your life has lacked unconditional love like mine, God’s love might seem impossible. You might need a million reminders like I do.
So tonight my journal looks a little different. Gone is the question, at least for now. Tonight I rest my head on the pillow quieting my attempts to earn love. I will go to sleep completely accepting that God loves me for exactly who I am.
I am proud of you.
I love you.
You are mine.