A scene from one of my favorite movies reminds me of myself. In the film French Kiss, Meg Ryan is trying to get the concierge at a posh hotel in Paris to assist her. He is playing straight into the French snob stereotype by ignoring her and treating her like American riffraff. In frustration she leans over the silver bell sitting on the counter and repeatedly hits it while she grits out, “Makes me want to scream!” Not surprisingly, the concierge quickly becomes more attentive.
Sometimes I feel exactly this screamingly frustrated with myself.
In January 2014 I set a reading goal for myself of 48 books. Four books a month. It seemed attainable and, indeed, it looks like I’ll reach my goal. I read a lot of books about spiritual growth. A lot of God books. Yet I noticed something in this year of reading. So often it feels like I’m reading and highlighting and agreeing or not agreeing with an author not so much because I want to grow in my spiritual life, not so much because I want to know God more fully, but because I want to prove someone else wrong. I want to be able to say (or at least think behind your back), “See! I’m doing it right and you’re not. So there!” It was when I realized this yucky fact about myself that the French Kiss scene popped into my head. I wanted to scream in frustration at myself and my sad need to be right.
Beth Moore writes, “Humility is the truest sign of intimacy with God.” I realized I was in desperate need of humility, so I began to daily and repeatedly ask God to fill me with humility. I don’t want to read and study simply to know a lot. I want to be gentle in my knowledge and when I share, I want it to be done only ever in kindness and not out of pride or an attitude of, "I know better because I read those 48 books this year. . that you didn’t!"
The know it all life is a path I walked for too long. I love to read but coupled with my insecurity over not having a college degree, means I have (had) a pretty annoying desire to prove how smart I am.
In his book, The Truest Thing About You, Dave Lomas writes, “Slowly, achingly slowly, I was learning to understand that I am deeply loved by God, and because of Jesus, God is well pleased with me. . . Every other identity I create for myself is an illusion.”
And so I began to let go of the fake me. I loosened the grip I had on my identity of being the “well-read” one, and began to see myself as deeply loved by God. First. Before anything else. Before anything I do (or read) - good or bad - I am deeply loved by God. There is no need for me to be right or well-read or know more than you. God just loves me. Period. The end.
Lomas writes, “There is a fundamental difference between who we are and what we do” but, “We believe that we are what we do.” That has been me most of my life, but no more. I am living into and believing God loves me before I become worth loving. But hear me when I say, “THIS ISN”T EASY.” Letting go of the try hard life is - well - hard. Living more than forty years earning the right to be loved doesn’t fall away overnight. It’s a bumper car journey at best. But it is still best.
I’m so grateful for books and a love of reading. I never want that to change. I just want my purpose, my end goal to be different. I want to read and learn and grow and share and be always becoming the truest me. The Shawna God sees.
"Knowing who God says we are and following Jesus into this new way of being human will change everything about our lives." Jonathan Martin Prototype.