Friday, April 28, 2017

Am I Wanted?

No one ever picked me first at game-time. As a kid, I didn't mind. But there was a particular time where the sting of getting picked last still lingers. I had played plenty of ultimate frisbee and volleyball skirmishes post-high school. We always split off by ones and twos rather than captains picking teams. But I distinctly remember a time when I wanted to go for a walk and everyone else wanted to play volleyball. We didn't have many students, so I was 'needed'—except that one or two persons made it clear that I wasn't any good. I played that day because I felt obligated, but I fought tears over not getting to do what I enjoyed, along with being made to feel incompetent and unwanted.

It is that horrible feeling of being inferior, of being on the outside, that causes so much damage in our world. "Look, God is withholding something from you. He's on the inside of this secret knowledge and you could be, too..." says the serpent to Eve. She takes the bait and bites. "You're all alone. You don't matter to anyone." The enemy whispers this lie, and too often it is answered with bullets and bloody wrists. "You aren't good enough to fit in," says the 'in' crowd. And many people make it their life's goal to become good enough to fit in—never sure if they've made it, even if they get on the inside.

Trying to fit in or accepting that you don't fit in are hard roads to walk. I know, I've tried them both. I like myself and my life better when I'm trying to be who I'm made to be (and more like Jesus)—not trying to be what someone else thinks I ought to be or wishes I were. I hate disappointing my family, friends, or my supervisor—but I don't mind not pleasing people. There's a difference. When I try to please people, to be what I think they need or want me to be, or to do what they want, I am suffocated, stressed, and annoyed with myself. When I love and respect someone, I naturally want to give to them, to build them up, to serve them well.

I am most free to grow and to love others (and to like myself) when I am not needed but I belong and am wanted.

I thought I was longing for freedom, but what I've been longing for is being wanted, not needed. To be needed means to try to fill a void for someone. To be needed means feeling obligated and duty-driven—it can be drudgery. I can try to fill the need, but after a while, I burn out. It is life-sucking to be needed. But to be wanted...that is a different story. I need to know that I didn't just waylay my neighbour on their way to do laundry; that they really wanted to talk with me for twenty minutes about books and what God is showing us both. I need to know that laundry was simply the means to a good conversation, not something more important that I kept them from. I need to hear the actions and hearts of others say:

Come inside from the cold and rest your weary soul
You belong, you are loved, you are wanted
You're not alone
I've missed you so
Welcome home1

Don't we all need to hear that somehow? We want to be our one-of-a-kind selves—not a cookie cutter person—but also to have someone, some ones, who get us, who welcome us in—to welcome us home. The enemy lies to us and tells us we're on the outside, that we don't matter to anyone (not even God), or that we're all alone...but he's wrong. He lies. 

Home is real. Acceptance is real. Jesus invites us to belong, to rest our souls in Him. He shows us scarred hands and tells us how utterly wanted we are. And He often brings those one or two—or more!—people into our lives who don't try to make us into what they expect or want, but who encourage us to grow, to be better than we are. They love us—even when they know just what we're really like. They remind us that we fit, we belong somewhere. And we do that for someone and some ones, too.

You belong.

You are loved. 

You are wanted.

You're not alone. . . Welcome home. 


1. Joy Williams / Matt Morris: "Welcome Home" lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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