I think we can all admit that at some point (maybe even now) we have had a soft spot for some thing in our lives. I’m talking about an object that holds significant meaning, like a special sweatshirt or stuffed animal, a book, or a pair of shoes. It may not even look like something of value to an outsider. It may look like a ratty t-shirt to someone else, but to you, that shirt is priceless!
As Christians, we know that we are storing up treasures in Heaven (Matt. 6:20), not on earth, but we still have human tendencies. One of the strongest impulses we have is to attach our heart-strings to the substantial things around us.
It’s not just things, though. It most certainly can be music or movies or locations, but most especially, we attach ourselves to people. We all have our squad, our tribe, our families, our PEOPLE. We love our people, and in most cases, our people love us.
Think of Jonathon and David (1 Sam. 18). Jonathon put everything he had on the line out of love for David. Think of Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16). Ruth left all that she had behind to follow Naomi, out of love, into a foreign land. Think of Paul and Timothy (2 Tim. 1). They were such dear friends that they came to regard one another as true family, united in faith and love.
Think ultimately of Jesus Christ, the best and truest friend of sinners, who extends His hand to us though we could never be deserving of His compassion.
As much as we anchor our heart-strings to people and places and things, our passions can shift dramatically. Have you ever wondered why something or someone you loved was perfectly wonderful one day, and completely inadequate the next? Have you taken the time to pray about it and thoughtfully consider why?
We’ve all done it, cast some thing or some one aside because those heart-strings we had so happily entangled with it were cut. Sometimes it happens quickly, and other times it’s a slow severing of tiny threads that fray and eventually break. Somehow, we’ve all lost our love for some thing or some one, but I’m thinking it’s really not that mysterious at all.
What happened was this: we stopped seeing what was once beloved through our own eyes, and started seeing it through someone else’s. We allowed the judgement of others to color our vision and alter our perception.
I’m experiencing this very phenomenon as I type. Our family is in the process of putting our house up for sale, and almost overnight, my home became far less appealing to me. I started seeing my house through someone else’s gaze—specifically, our realtor’s. He came to our home to help us draft a list of things we ought to do to make our house more appealing to prospective buyers. As I looked at all of the repairs and cleaning and work that has to be done, I felt my spirit sink. All I can think about our home is…
It’s not big enough.
It’s not clean enough.
It’s not new enough.
It’s not special enough.
It’s just…not enough.
A few weeks ago, before I wanted to move into town and out of our home, I loved our house just the way it was. Sure, the floor vents needed to be cleaned. And the kitchen needed some TLC. And the paint could use some sprucing up. But it was all part of the charm. Our home looks lived in. It IS lived in! Very quickly, however, those feelings changed. I stopped seeing all of the memories we have made and started seeing all the imperfections that we have tolerated.
How often do we look at what God has given us and give it a negative label? Even as young children we were taught to accept gifts graciously (even if it was another awful itchy sweater from Grandma Gertrude) and admonished when we complained about the presents we received. As we get older, how do we remember these lessons of our youth, especially when it comes to our dearest companions, and even, to ourselves?
When the Lord knit us together, He gave each of us a gift. God fashioned for every human being a unique physical form, a body for life on earth, that we get to use and enjoy and discipline and mold until its time for us to leave it. Do you remember the moment you fell out of love with your own body? When the hair on your arms or the freckles on your face just weren’t good enough anymore? I can almost guarantee you that up until a certain point, you were oblivious to what you now consider flaws in your physical body.
We all lose that sweet, child-like naivety when we accept societal standards of beauty, when we change our lens. If you need proof of this, consider the average second grader. It’s hard to find a 7 year old who wants to look good in her skinny jeans or be ready for bathing suit season. The reason why is simple: she hasn’t learned to see herself through some one else’s eyes. She still surveys the world, and herself in it, with the optimistic outlook of a child who hasn’t learned to be critical and unkind to herself. When we accept a worldly lens in substitute for a Godly perspective, we set ourselves up for unimaginable pain and disappointment.
Nothing we have loved or ever will love will be good enough if we are using a flawed perspective. It’s the interposition of Jesus, it’s Him coming into our lives and transforming us, that makes anything and everything beautiful, complete, and pleasing to God.
If you’ve recently lost your love for some one or your own self, spend some time in prayer over those things. This is not a call to idolatry; we must not inalterably love the world or the things of it, but I believe that God gave us affectionate natures for a reason. He gave us friendship and family as a shadow of the Kingdom yet to come, and to help us understand our places in it. We care for the things that matter to us, and I believe that is by design. Did God remove a passion you had been cultivating because He has greater plans for you? Or did you abandon a friendship or a positive body-image because you started looking at things through someone else’s eyes?
Let the Lord search your heart, and with Him, see the world (and yourself in it) through His eyes.