A friend of mine shared this quote with me the other day from the book Unseen by Sara Hagerty. In it, Hagerty tells of a conversation she had with her preteen daughter about God’s delight in her:
“‘[God] likes when you play basketball in your rain boots. And that day when you tried out your bike in the snow, He really enjoyed you.’ She cracks a smile, maybe starting to like this part of herself too, if God does. ‘He likes that you read under the covers of your bed, late at night. He likes how neat you keep your drawers. He made you to love order.’
‘Mommy,’ she says, looking up at me, ‘am I the only person on the planet who has a hard time believing that God likes me?’
‘Nope,’ I tell her. She's tapping into the deepest cry of the human heart ... We all struggle to believe His delight. Might this be one of the greatest barriers to our communion with God—believing that the One who made us barely likes us, the one we assume finds us barely tolerable.”
Failing to believe in God’s delight in us is one of the greatest barriers to our communion with God, to our communion with each other, to living the lives we were created to live. One thing I’m learning through writing this series and discussing it with y’all is that we carry around a lot of shame for simply being who we are. We carry around a lot of shame for the things that God truly likes about us, and this shame holds us back.
I’m a believer in sanctification. God is in the business of purifying things out of our lives that keep us from loving Him and others. He is in the business of developing His character in us. He is not, I believe, in the business of overhauling the way He has already uniquely imprinted us with His divine image. Sanctification is not His process of cloning us into the Model Christian Woman.
Even though I don’t like everything my toddler son does (stop throwing your FREAKING food on the floor, son!), I do genuinely like his personality. I often look him in the eye and tell him that I like how friendly he is, how active he is, how curious he is. I tell him that I like how he waves to the cars on the street and says “Bye, car!” and how he dances when the Daniel Tiger theme song comes on (as it often tends to do).
I somehow think I’m a better parent than God. I view God as someone who loves me in essence but dislikes almost everything about me and only thinks about my flaws.
I can feel like the joy, activity, levity, glee, loudness, and busyness (bordering on an inability to sit still—literally, I am shaking my leg up and down as I type this) that make up my personality are things that make me less of the woman I should be. I can see these as traits that God wants to sanctify out of me, or at least significantly soften in me. But my sanctification process actually means that God is going to further develop and clarify the good of these things while purifying the harmful parts. I’ve been trying to put out a spark, God has been wanting to fan it into flame.
Sure, my tendency to make jokes can mean that I don’t take things seriously sometimes, but God has shown me that it can also add levity to a hard situation, remind other people to slow down and take small things less seriously, and reflect the joviality of God.
My need to sing and dance whenever I hear music is out of place sometimes, but it reflects a God who dances and sings in joy over us.
My constant flurry of activity can reflect an unhealthy need to be busy, but it can also reflect the heart of a God who is active, who works for our good, who is a good kind of busy in creation.
As I have talked with several of you through this series, I’ve heard other characteristics that we believe are flaws as Christian women: strength, passion, a desire to be active in society, honesty, leadership ability, and even intelligence. Think through those traits and pray for wisdom. Ask God to show you what He likes about you. Ask Him to show you in what ways you have been trying to put out the spark that He has ignited in you.
God likes you. He likes your quirks; He likes your normalcy. He likes the parts of you that don’t fit in; He likes the parts of you that completely fit in. He wants to continue making you like Him, and there is a lot to Him. There are a lot of different facets to His character, so there are a lot of different ways to be a Christlike woman.