A few nights ago, I sat in my brother’s living room with his wife and my boyfriend, discussing various personality traits and how differently we all operate. We laughed as he explained the irony of how lazy I was when I was younger, since I have become an almost non-stop machine of responsibility, social involvement, and ministry leadership. You’d have no idea now how rarely I wanted to socialize when I was younger and how my mom had to kidnap items from my bedroom, which could only be ransomed by cleaning my bedroom after 50 desperate please had been ignored. I was queen of irresponsibility and quiet living, and quite the opposite now.
What’s not so funny about the change was looking at my boyfriend’s disheartened face a few months ago as he simply said one night, “Holly, I want more quality time with you.” The seriousness of his request sunk in immediately, kind of like when my mom finally stole my toys in order to get a response. The cute L.A. way of living suddenly seemed far less normal than I thought it was, and I realized it would hurt my relationship unless I made a change.
Unfortunately, I’m a little slow sometimes. Like a see-saw, I’d adjust one end so it can drop to the floor, only to add another weight, so the other end pops up at the same time. Hence, that was not the last conversation like that. What eventually boiled up was that yes, maybe I should slow down… but didn’t he realize how important all of that was? Couldn’t he acknowledge its importance to me, and my importance to all of my involvements?! He seemed to be missing key parts of who I was, what I was accomplishing, and the things that – in my mind – gave me worth. In my mind, he didn’t care about me enough.
The ensuing conversation changed me drastically in the past few months. Once again, we Lsat frustrated in my boyfriend’s car as I explained all of the above. He essentially replied, “I don’t care.” Yes, I was offended, and may have had a desire to throw a punch or kick in that moment. But that wasn’t really what he was saying. He far more poetically stated something like, “I know those things are important to you, but I don’t care about the things you do. That’s not who you are. I care about you. I want a best friend to laugh with and do ministry with, I want to know Holly, because that’s who I want in my life and who I love.” ( That’s a paraphrase, believe me the original should have been recorded because it was far more beautiful and moved me to tears).
When he finished, I was disarmed and my heart softened. Yet what struck me most was that it felt even more significant than a speech from a man. I truly felt God’s heart in that moment, and heard him speaking to me as well. What I know, but forget about every 5 minutes, is that God feels about me the way Jason does (except about 1000 times more).
I wanted Jason to know about the things I do, what I love, my good works, my social status, etc. Truthfully, its because I care a lot about me, and deep down, I think it will make him love me more. Like most of us, I want to impress and earn favor and make sure every area of my life is shiny and stellar in a way that is deserving of love and attention.
I do the same thing with God. I want God to look at my love for him, and others, and all of the sacrifice and work I do for him so he can not just love me, but be extra proud of me. I’m shooting for valedictorian in God’s kingdom. But God’s kingdom is nothing like high school. The one with straight F’s gets as much honor as the valedictorian just for being a student at the high school.
That conversation set off a recent journey of going deeper in an understanding of the power of just being me. The power of you being you. How being who God has created us to be, without all of the extras, can change this world for the sake of the kingdom of God.
I’ve been on sabbatical from ministry for about three months, and not being as busy or being as involved is very weird for me. God has been speaking to me that it doesn’t matter. Like my boyfriend said, God just wants to be with me. He wants my love, affection, time, and undivided attention. That’s what a good romantic relationship looks like, right?
I’m reading a book right now called The Art of Being You, which Amazon happened to suggest to me while doing online Christmas shopping. It was cheap, so I threw it in my virtual cart and picked it up yesterday. I don’t think it was an coincidence. It says,
God is looking at the real you, not the “show you”…we play the best version of us – but God pays no attention to our act. He’s listening for the unguarded words, the thoughts and intentions of the heart…Because mystery is so unsettling, many of us choose to think of ourselves primarily as tools in the hands of God. We want to be used to build or fix things, to impact and change the world – a practical purpose. God does have a purpose for each one of us here, a job for us to undertake…But many of us see ourselves only as a tool in the hands of God. Our identity becomes too tightly defined by our earthly purpose and tasks…Rather than seeing you primarily as his tool, God views your purpose here as a tool in his hand for the art he is making of you. He is at work in you more than through you” (pg. 37-38).
I needed a looooong season of maturing and learning to be responsible and to get out of my comfort zone and realize life was about more than me. God taught me that lesson well, and now seems to be helping me revisit playfulness and simplicity with the foundation of lessons learned. He’s showing me that it’s not just good works that impact the kingdom, but that the art he’s making of me can have the same impact in mysterious ways.
Strangely to me, my boyfriend has noted as his favorite moments with me, ones that I was caught off guard, goofing around, being vulnerable – not the pulled together, cutely dressed, sophisticated and wise ones. I am learning more and more that God is no different. When all I did was sit at home tonight, read a book, pray and worship, and watch a documentary, God takes the same pleasure in me. It may even be that something from “wasting” a Friday night alone at home is just what God will use in a conversation or opportunity in the future to impact someone more than anything I could have planned.
So if you find yourself working to earn God’s love, or do all of the right Christian things, remember he just wants you to be with him. quality time with you. God is the artist. He loves his piece of art far more than you know, and each one has a unique purpose and design. With the time and worship you give him he will accomplish far more than you could ever calculate or imagine.