Shame and Water

Guilt makes a lousy companion, like a thunderstorm always waiting at the edge of your mind. Any moment of sunshine and delight can be all too quickly quenched by a sudden downpour.

We had this phrase that slipped in during the Father Heart of God week at dts: "From love, not for love." The idea is that when we know we're loved, when we fully comprehend that we have nothing to work for because all that we need is already ours from Him, we walk in unimaginable freedom. God's love is like the Drano that clears away a lifetime of pipe-clogging gunk. A child runs in from outside covered in dirt, and Mother doesn't withhold her love until his face is clean. She loves him because of who he is and what he is.

It's a beautiful thought, but it's one that I forget all too readily.

Once upon a time, David Blanchard told me that one of my greatest weaknesses is a tendency to hide myself behind my accomplishments (for the record, I did ask for his opinion). He's right, and it arises from what is perhaps an all-too-common tendency to live by the approval of others. Don't be controversial, don't stand out too much, do as the Romans do. Because the fact is, it's tiring to have to defend a non-traditional perspective. Fasting for "religious reasons," going to church on Sunday, not drinking as part of a vow, even listening to the ever-dreaded Christian music... But oh, that spiral of silence has a steep slope.

The problem with living for the approval of others is that you can't please everybody. Eventually, you get to a point where you've successfully placated a new crowd, but you're ashamed to face your old friends. Oh, maybe you don't do anything too terrible - maybe you call yourself the good kid of the group. But you still find it hard to look in the eyes of the people who believe in you, who have known you at your best, because what if the light of hope is dimmed by disappointment?

Sometimes, I don't want to go home, because it's too tiring to remember what I'm supposed to say and how I'm supposed to act. Sometimes, I resent the circles that I move in now because I don't want to be weird or stereotyped, but I don't hold the most vocalized popular opinion.

"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness ... There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear." (1 John 4:17a&18a)

Usually I treat this blog as my own personal dump site, because I don't want to be too preachy. Well, if it's preachy, I'm not sorry this time. I hope you know that you're loved. You are loved fiercely and passionately and forever. So am I. Like anyone, I have faced doubt. But doubt doesn't get the final word. At the end of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that three things remain: faith, hope, and love. Of these three, faith and hope will one day become obsolete, as the object of our faith is before us, and we need hope no longer because all hopes are satisfied. All that remains is love. It was there at the beginning, and it will be there at the end. You cannot disappoint a God who knows you front to back, death to birth, and everything in between, because He already knows the story and He re-wrote a better ending. That's the kind of love that casts out fear. That's the kind of love that makes us daring and bold. That is the kind of love that gets the final word.


  1. New circles of friends want you around BECAUSE of who you are, not because of who THEY are, and this is coming from an immoderate heathen that thinks you are wonderful. <3 Is weird bad? Weird means that you have a mind of your own, and weird means that you are not afraid of being who you are.

    Live for your OWN approval, and everything else follows. If you are happy with who you are and live in light of that, everything else falls into place.

  2. Dear Sam, thank you for the encouragement. I wasn't really questioning y'all on that count. Perhaps you can chalk it up to over-sensitivity on my part. I'm just so sick and tired of reading heated, vicious arguments over things where, opinion-wise, I'm at odds with many of the people that I consistently spend time with. And while I've never had anyone look me in the eye and call me whatever choice epithet suits his/her fancy, I rather think that if I had to be grouped somewhere, I would fit in with "the bad guys." Oh, I have a face to those friends who are most vehement, and I don't make an ass of myself, so they like me well enough. But every time we speak derogatorily of a worldview/opinion community, we are drawing battle lines between "us and them." I'm sick of the lines. I don't want to be fighting anyone. So there you go - it's not so much that I feel like I've been hit specifically, but there's always the shrapnel to deal with too.

  3. Oh I can definitely understand that perspective--believe me. It may or may not be any consolation, but for what it's worth, I am certainly grouped in with "the bad guys" from certain viewpoints, especially in a casual and intimate social setting, where I am most outspoken. I spent all of college and beyond frustrated when people judged me for my Atheism and sometimes for my liberalism (and certainly for my hedonistic tendencies), but in the end, I know that I have a good heart, I am learned and stalwart in my beliefs, and subsequently, do right by me, which is all that really matters. I digress, but my point is that I've found that even when it is uncomfortable, being challenged in social settings can serve three purposes:
    1) Strengthen your own beliefs through discussion
    2) Challenge your beliefs, which is also a good thing! Challenge leads to introspection, further study, and a more sturdy outlook, in the end. If we surround ourselves only with people that believe as we do, there is no challenge
    3) Increase your understanding of the other perspectives


  4. Granted that a good conversation can yield much fruit, I'm talking more about when someone describes a situation where they wanted to throw boiling hot tea at someone for expressing the kind of opinions that I might (less outspokenly) agree with. That does NOT make me want to share perspective time with that individual.

  5. Oh I can definitely relate. There came a point in college when I had stood up for myself in these conversations so often that it really just became a laughing matter if someone claimed that the constitution didn't apply to me because I don't believe in god/s, and that I was certainly going to hell (which is a silly thing to tell an atheist anyway). :) It certainly helps to toughen the skin! But yeah, after those conversations, I never chose to spend my time with those particular bigots, haha.

  6. That is pretty funny. In spite of the fact that I have done some witnessing in my time, I don't think I've ever resorted to the "going to hell" argument. I'm not interested in scaring someone into believing something. For what it's worth, I'm sorry that you've been put through that kind of ridiculousness. Even if you can find something positive in the result, it was probably not an enjoyable process, and that sucks :(

  7. Many times when I revisit this blog after some absence, it feels like you've put some more of my thoughts into words, more eloquently than I could do it. Boldness! Yes! The boldness that comes from being loved and loving back in innocence, from being the bearer of promises far surpassing our imagination. And I, epigone, am reminded of what I read yesterday:

    "Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him?"

    Context (short enough) here.