We are made for human as well as divine relationship. Just as He did not make another animal for Adam we are not ultimately satisfied with less than human relationships. This does not HAVE to be marriage, but it may be. The desire for a more significant human relationship is proper—natural and real. Still, we dare not let the relational market determine or worth.
I made the astounding discovery years ago—that I did not like myself. Oh, I thought I was a good guy. In fact, I believed I was a good friend and would make a good husband. My family and many, many, friends reinforced this truth to me. But none of this translated to a relationship. Love still eluded me and self-worth suffered. I asked the questions, “Am I not good enough? What did I do?” and even, “What is wrong with me?”
It is in the deepest, darkest of pits that even a glimmer of light is best perceived, and so it was. I was watching the movie Planes Trains and Automobiles and was moved by one scene in particular. During a hotel stay the enraged Neal (Steve Martin) lambasted Del (John Candi) for his boring stories and mundane life. Neal was relentless and destructive with his words while Del stood listening, frozen as though he had been punched. Del was silent for a few seconds and then responded:
“You want to hurt me?
Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better.
I’m an easy target.
Yeah, you’re right: I talk too much. I also listen too much.
I could be a cold, hard cynic like you but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings.
You think what you want about me, I’m not changing. I…I like me.”
I am not lauding those lazy people who refuse to grow and mature because they are “who they are.” We must all change and grow. None of us has yet arrived.
But I was struck by the simplicity of his confession, “I like me.” It was a simple confidence in the face of assaulting doubt—“I like me.” It turns out this is far more important than somebody else “liking me.” If we do not feel worthy, if we never own that value imparted by Christ, we will drain the resources of anyone trying to love us.
We cannot allow the dimness of today, of what we perceive to be the “real” world to dominate our thinking. We are Christians and this means we see all things by a different light. The Christian ideal is that we are His children and that He bestows value upon us. So… “I like me.”
If we operate in another system, the world’s system for instance, then all we have is our faces, our bodies, our brains, and the zip of our personalities. These are good things. I will take them all if I can get them, but they are (or should be) worth more in the world’s economy than in the Kingdom of God. In fact, they are most effective if it is the world we are trying to buy; if all we seek is family and home and white picket fences. This is not all we seek—is it?
Along side these things, these good things, is the ideal that all value and worth flow from the one whose worth is inexpressible. We must start there. We must start with the knowledge, the heart and head knowledge, that we ARE valuable. No compliment should augment our worth and no criticism should diminish our worth. “I like me.”
If someone tells us we are beautiful or handsome the proper answer is “Yes, I know! He makes all things beautiful.” Try it and let me know how it goes. If their response is shock simply say, “I like me.”
To ask the question, “What is wrong with me?” is to ask the question, “Am I worthy? Is who I am good enough no matter what I may or may not have?” For us to ask these questions is to question the Lord who bought us. To question our worth because we are still single makes our circumstances the measure of our worth—and this can never be.
Your worth is not tied to what you do, or what you have. It is not tied to whom you have—married or single. Your worth, in fact all worth, is imparted by God and cannot be stolen. This means that we need not search for the person who will make us feel worthy and we need not ask the question, “Are we worthy?” We are worthy. As children of God we ARE WORTHY! This is besides the obvious flaws we possess. This is despite our real and ever present need to grow and mature. “I like me.”
The truth is that there IS something wrong with each of us but that may have nothing to do with why we are still single. Say it… “I like me.”
Some will say, “God is perfecting you and when He has prepared you for marriage you will meet someone.” Please! I will never be that righteous. What foolishness to think we deserve the gift of another’s heart. What foolishness to think we can earn the right to be married. What a silly idea that only the righteous get married.
If He did not wait until we were perfect to save us, to give us the life of His Son, He will not dangle love before us and then demand that we first be perfect ? I find hopelessness there. Instead I whisper, “I like me.”
Let us press towards perfection but let us turn our face back towards the one great Christian truth—Grace. The deeper truth (something for all to remember) is that marriage may be a functional part OF the perfecting process not the reward FOR perfection. This means that all our lives we are involved in becoming whom He has made us to be, whom He is making us to be. But even IN the process we are already worthy. Even while we wait and hope to be married we are worthy. “I like me.”
This means we strive to be pure, to be holy, to be righteous, but not in order to win a mate. We do these not to find love but because love has found us, taken us in, and called us His own. The truth is that none of us are worthy, not even the happily married. The truth is we are all worthy now that Grace has taken note of our plight. That happened at the cross. To be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way. His blessings, even marriage, flow from His grace and not my works—THANK GOD!!!!!! “I like me.”
We do not deny that we have a longing and that we hurt but our eyes are ever upward and our hope is in Him. Even here, in the place of waiting, we are more than conquerors, worthy, and pleasing to our Lord. Believe it! Say it with me, “I like me.”
This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com, Thursday, June 18, 2009.