God is love! But does he like me?
When I was a very young boy I remember feeling very attached to my older brother. I wanted him to like me - wanted to be with him and play with him. What I can remember so clearly is the longing. I wanted it SO BAD. I would do anything to get his attention. But, eventually, unrequited, we give up and conclude that there must be something wrong with us that makes people reject us.
If we are in touch with what is true in our souls, we may discover that we still feel this way. Maybe about God, maybe about others. The longing may be gone or it might still be barely flickering in our souls. In our life experiences we might conclude that we are loved – that others will go out of the way to care for us, listen to us and even enjoy us. But so many of us are left uncertain of how others really feel about us. My wife teases me sometimes because my enjoyment of foods can change dramatically. Last month I was LOVING mushrooms – but this month I can’t stand them. I wonder if sometimes this is how we experience ourselves or how we think others feel about us.
Why would God like me? Why does my mother, brother, friend or spouse actually like me? Are they pretending? Do they sometimes like me and sometimes not so much? I remember when I was a kid – probably in late elementary – my best friend told me that we were only friends because I had a tire swing. I think we are sometimes tempted to believe that God only loves us because he has to love us – he only loves us so we can glorify him with righteous living. That’s the job description. But, because we are sinful, he actually detests us and is holding his nose while he forgives us. This might not be our official theology, but this is what is true in our actual thinking and feeling.
So, does God really like me?
I would start simply with asserting that when God created us – he declared not only that he made us in his image, but he declared us to be very good! Therefore – the baseline is that he loves and delights in who we are. This abstract theology, however, is difficult to feel more practically in our souls. So, I invite you to name those characteristics of yourself (not the things you do, but the way you naturally live) – like accepting, perservering, giving, inspiring, passionate, insightful, faithful, joyful and just. There are many more words that can be used – but reflect on this – ask a friend or spouse – “what do you enjoy about me?” This itself can open up connection and intimacy. It is not so much that God likes us because we are living into these things as named – but he delights in us because in these things we reflect the good and beautiful of himself that he has placed in us when we were created.
I know… for some of you this might feel a bit touchy feely. Well, it is. We need to know and feel that we are loved – and perhaps as importantly – liked! If we cannot know deep down that we are loved and liked – we will probably struggle to love and like others with the same passion and delight that God loves and likes us. Jesus taught us to love God and others as ourselves. An invitation to accept God’s love and delight in us is also an essential part of our journey to live fully into the way God is inviting us to love others. Perhaps the question that is behind this title question is – “do I like myself?” It is God’s invitation to like the person he has created you to be. Rest in the deep satisfaction that the God of the universe delights in you and you can by faith receive and experience that every day in Christ.