Isn’t it weird how parts of one’s personality can become places of proving oneself?
Imagining choices and the complicated questions that come with them is something that is a very real part of my faith, and just makes sense at this point in my life. I want to take stock of the distractions. Most of the reason I devote so much time to these questions is because it allows me to put expectations into words and prioritize what, if anything, is important in how they play out. One of the most necessary and real things that I try to explore is the idea of what love is.
As a woman, there are so many scripts that teach you how to market yourself, based mainly off of terrible rom-coms and stereotypes. You can be an Activist, a Nature Enthusiastic, a Thinker, a Do-It-Yourself-er, Delicately feminine, Artistic, a Mom, whatever. You can shop for people based on “personality” using these silly subtypes. In dating, we adhere to these bizarre guidelines so that people can quarantine the weird before they actually see what is in a person. If we drop the need to present ourselves as fun and exciting, what is even left?
As appealing as it may be to consider having someone love you for the “zest” you have for living, or your “mind”, or your obnoxiously precious habits, or the way that you seem “down to earth”, is that what anyone really wants? You can love nature without being precious for loving nature. What happens when the day comes where we need to take a walk by ourselves, or sit outside in silence? If there is no audience, what happens to our habits?
Having a passion for life is something you can experience on your own. Like the movie 500 days of Summer, do people have to prove how alive they are in order to convince someone they are special enough for commitment? What if I’m not special? What if I don’t want to be special? Do I have to make myself into a quirky caricature? I don’t need to prove myself before God. Through Christ, he loves me just the same.
Instead of making who I am more trendy, I’d rather relate to people on the basis of faith. If I can invest my time in these cardboard cut outs or allowing God to work in my life, I’m going to choose God because the alternative really sucks. It’s not always just that God is good (and he is). It’s that playing along with the scripts and faking our way ahead takes away so much more than just being alone and in faith. Truth be told, I don’t like how we look to others more than we look to God to sate our sense of necessity. First of all, it won’t work. You need grace to come from God and the faux quirky nonsense always ends more dramatically than healthy iterations of reality. If you have to try to guess at what a person is hiding because you’re “convinced” there must be something that person isn’t showing you, then it’s often unfortunately cut and dry. If he or she walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck…you get the point. When someone is upfront with you about who they are and their expectations, it feels like you’re being respected. As a general rule, getting to know people shouldn’t take so much poking around.
When you have proving yourself as your primary goal, reaching that goal will become a cyclical sense of hunger for external validation. The striving extinguishes whatever good you might currently have going on. Instead of resting in Christ, you cycle around like a fruit fly hoping to land on something you want. It leaves you emptier than you started with.
Rather than popularity, influence, or attention, I’d rather know that I am accepted without the charades. I’d rather have strength that can only be found by faith. I’d rather have peace over what I don’t plan on changing. I’d rather realize that not being perfect doesn’t mean I should give up.
The unconditional love of God is the only thing I’ve found to fill the voids we all have for striving. If you can’t be accepted with a bare face, without adornment, without further complication, then why do we strive to be accepted in those places? If God sees each of us and calls us all naturally beautiful, why carry on the striving at all? I’d rather come simply to God than feel like a failure when the elaborate dressing-up of my character fails. It’s simply easier to live this path out.