This is my cousin, Rorie. 25 days ago she was dying of leukemia. Tomorrow she is going home with newly-grafted bone marrow, and I just love this picture of her. We found out her diagnosis last November and the prognosis was bleak for a litany of reasons. By March, we didn’t think she was going to make it past April. She got a donor in the nick of time, though. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. I have said that simple prayer over her more times than I can count. This picture was from a couple of days ago and tomorrow she goes home with her parents and sister. Happy family. Happy girl. I love this picture for many reasons, not the least of which is the hope it inspires in me every time I look at it. Hope in the physical sense of her healing and future health, but also maybe something more…
See, that is a real smile. I’m not certain what she was doing when they took this picture, but I’m just going to comment on what I see in this picture. Rorie is part of a big, loving, close family. We might not see each other often, but we know that as part of the Joslin clan, we belong to people who will go to the mattresses for one another. And even at the tender age of 3, I think Rorie has the firm knowledge that her family, especially her parents, sister, and grandparents, love the mess out of her. That is where that kind of smile comes from. Even in the midst of physical pain, emotional wear, and more unanswered questions than answered ones, Rorie has real joy grab hold of her most of the time because above all of that, she has the security, support, and the love of the people she belongs to.
This thought hearkens me to something God has been talking to me about this week in particular. I am reading Shannon Ethridge’s book “Completely His”. The whole book is about a love relationship with Jesus, but I have just finished a chapter that discusses the way we see ourselves and how that ultimately shapes the way we live. She said a lot of really great things about this concept, but there was one short sentence that stopped me dead in my tracks: Live loved.
Do I really live my life like I am unbelievably, undeniably loved by The Father?
I have to say that I do not. In particular, I know that I do not because I have this thing that I struggle with: pride. My pride has led me to do some things over the years that have turned out to be terrible decisions because they were made for the wrong reasons. This is because I have so desperately found myself trying to prove things to myself, to my friends, to strangers, to everyone I encounter. What am I trying to prove? That I matter. I am special. Even more than that, I am special for these reasons: I am smart, I am nice, I am pretty, I am helpful, I make things better, I am capable, I am a good person, I am right, I am…, I am…, I am… Pick a day and I will have something different I find myself needing to prove. This is a revelation from God that has been long in the making, but He’s been (tenderly) pushing the point recently. It has most poignantly come up in my job as of late. You see, I left a very high paying managerial job over a year and a half ago when my life fell to pieces and six months ago took the only job I could find: administrative assistant at 1/3 of my previous salary. I was happy because that meant I could feed my kids since my savings were running thin. But I have struggled with the very stark status change that has come with it. It is one thing to swallow hard and do a menial and boring task. But what I have discovered is a prideful spirit that flares up in me like hot crimson rage when people talk down to me or when they do not value me, my work, and my time.
God’s response to this inner struggle of mine is none other than Love. It is so like Him, isn’t it? He has faithfully reminded me that if I were to rest in His love fully and completely, then I would not so need for others to see me in a certain light. I wouldn’t feel the need to bring up in conversations how far I’ve gone in my Master’s work. How I used to supervise hundreds. How close I was to medical school. Well…you get the idea. I guarantee that when I am grasping for other’s approval and opinions, my heart and my face don’t look like Rorie’s in that moment. It looks a little more desperate, a little more like a three year old with her chin stuck out. But look at Rorie again. THAT is freedom of heart. Her little body is still recovering from months of cancer and chemo, but her heart is free. I want to live my life looking like that. Free because I know Who I belong to and Who loves me. Free from the need to impress other people, and myself, really. Free to rest in His love and be satisfied in life because of it. I want to live free. Live Loved.
John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”