Y’all, this quote “Yay, it’s you” was said to me at our Baptist House of Studies “Texas Baptist Women in Ministry Day” at Perkins in October. It was Ashley Robinson, Wilshire pastoral resident and wonderful friend, who said this to me. She said it when she found out I was the mystery person whose stuff was at the table she was sitting at for our luncheon. This encouragement reminded me of Mr. Rogers when he said on his show: I like you just the way you are. I believed him. These are words that breathe life into weary souls. Also, every time I see Ashley, my heart screams: Yay, it’s you. 💕
I do not know about you, but I am tired. Tired of feeling like I have to keep doing more (a lot of this feeling is self-imposed, but it is our culture too—both/and) to feel like I am proving myself enough. Why am I not trusting that I am wholly and completely loved as I am, where I am? There are reasons, but the reasons are way bigger than my personal location.
When I started realizing that I actually like myself, I felt weird about it. Saying I felt like I did something good without making a self-deprecating joke first felt unnatural. I asked my therapist if I was becoming a narcissist. She opened her book on narcissism and read the definition of a narcissist to me. No worries there. We do live in a narcissistic culture, though. This phenomenon is not because people like themselves too much. It is just the opposite. They do not know they are loved just the way they are. Our culture of intense competition with little to no empathy for the ones not winning, it is no wonder we have created a culture of narcissists.
Our Christian faith is really competitive. There are lots of reasons for this and I do not feel like writing them, but I do want to say this: you cannot over-encourage someone. You can over-praise, though. These are not the same thing. Most of us are living in a world where encouragement is lacking and what needs to be improved abounds everywhere. What needs to be e improved is not unknown. What is going well is not always clear.
In the United States, it is clear we need to improve basically everything. Not one institution is untouched by serious oversight on important issues and abuse of people. Everything seems to be on trial, and democracy and human decency seem to be losing. But other things are happening. I see people waking up and learning to love themselves. They are seeing the pain of the world and wanting to know why these things are happening. They are not giving up; they are getting in the ring.
Things are not okay right now. I was just reading Jonathan Martin’s post, who has been fighting fiercely for years for the life of Julius Jones who has been unjustly accused and sentenced to death in Oklahoma, reminding me why I am living my life they way I am. Please check out Julius Jones’ story to get the full background. But know this: Governor Stitt, Oklahoma’s governor, acted in the most cruel way waiting to weigh in on Julius’s commutation until hours before his execution. His family, and Julius, had to go through “last things” because of this intentional delay. Our political leaders and faith leaders who are acting this way are breaking the heart of our nation—and so many of us are raising our voice and saying: Enough!!!! Jonathan’s quote here: this movement has always been grounded in the power of those the world calls common, not celebrity. Then he went on to uplift Cece Jones Davis, without whom Julius Jones would probably not be here still today, even though we still await getting him home. She had to pester and look like John the Baptist in a way that made sense to few but it sustained life when death was seeking to win.
We have to learn to listen to our life and believe when we are called. It is hard and we will not be perfect. I am so far from perfect and I have really hurt some people in trying to fulfill this call. It is agony. But I am learning to lean into my belovedness anyway. My voice is speaking from deep pain and there can be room for mistakes. None of us know how to do things right. I am not even really asking that question anymore. How can we do things more faithfully is what I am asking. Then we keep adjusting over and over as we continue to meet unmet needs as we go. It is not about perfection but faithfulness (listening).
These lyrics from Tish Melton, Glennon Doyle’s daughter from “We Can Do Hard Things”:
Because I’m mine, I walk the line. Cause we’re adventurers and heartbreak’s our map. We might get lost, but we’re okay with that
We stopped asking directions
To places they’ve never been
And to be loved, we need to be known
We’ll finally find our way back home
And through the joy and pain, that our lives bring
We can do hard things