A friend sent me a song yesterday called "You are Loved." It's beautiful. In the video, the singer portrays herself as a mom (which may be actually true of her life - I don't know her story), and shows them having fun with others - dancing, socializing, and playing together. The singer is a beautiful woman; tall and slim with long blond hair. Basically, the "ideal" woman.
As I watched the video, I found myself comparing me to her - and not in a good way. By the end of the song, my thought was, "if I looked like her and had her personality, I would know that I'm loved." Clearly, this is a lie from the enemy, but I just couldn't get the thought out of my mind. I then realized that I do live like God loves me, as I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He does, and unconditionally, but I live my life thinking that it's not possible for anyone else to really love me. Basically, because I don't look "ideal," I can never be really loved by others.
That thought was with me all night and was on my mind again this morning as I sat in church. It was raining as I was getting ready for church this morning, and I overslept, so I didn't "do" my hair. I pulled it back and pinned it up wet. I also didn't put make up on, other than concealer, and I looked tired. I simply wore jeans and a t-shirt. As I sat there before the service began, feeling awful about myself, I realized that the biggest reason I felt awful is because I thought I looked awful. Sigh.
Throughout the service, as I had these two conflicting thoughts rattling around in my head (I am loved, and I look awful), God opened my eyes to see something that I have never really grasped before.
If I believe that God is truly the only One who really loves me, the One who loves me unconditionally, who made me and calls me His own, then why do I try so hard to please others when I know they cannot love me like God does? Why do I seek validation and affirmation from people who are not capable of loving me the way God loves me? Why do I expend so much energy trying to prove my worth and value to others when they will never value me the way God does? Why am I often so much more concerned about what others will think about what I am doing than focussing on what God thinks about what I am doing? What if I live my life trying to please the only One who truly loves me for me, the One I never have to prove my worth and value for?
As I was thinking this through, I remembered a quote I have heard over and over in my life... live for the Audience of One. I never fully understood that until today. It's more than simply performing for God - it means living my life for the only One who really loves me. Others can love me, but no one will ever love me the way that Jesus does. He is the only One I need to live for.
I had the opportunity to try this before the service ended. I am a hand-raiser and I attend a church where expressive worship is not the norm. As I stood there with my eyes closed, engaging in the lyrics and the presence of God, I raised one hand - half way. Then, I consciously blocked out all those around me, focused my attention on God, and chose to express my love to Him in the way that is natural for me. So, I stood there with my eyes closed, sometimes clapping, often bouncing a little to the music, and even raised both hands.
I must choose to be true to who God made me. I must choose to express my love and obedience to Him in the way He has designed me to do that.
I commit to living my life out of the love that God has for me and not out of the fear of what others may think. Seeking validation and affirmation from others will always come up short and leave me feeling empty.
Freedom is when I seek to please God, purely out of His amazing, unmatched love for me.
And, as Romans 8: 38, 39 tells me, nothing will ever be able to separate me from that love.
Now, that, is a certainty I can live for.