A sequel of sorts to The Devil’s Favorite Word.
According to Saint Augustine, the deepest desire of our hearts is to see another and be seen by that other’s loving look. (Fill These Hearts, Christopher West)
It’s hard to argue with that. We want to see infinity in a face and we want to discover that mysterious infinity searching, hunting, longing for us too. We need to know that someone delights in us. The fundamental question of human existence is, ‘Does anyone love me?’ We need to know that we are worthy of love.
This is our soft spot. It is the place where we must stand and wait for a response, for a word from outside ourselves. It is the place where, if affirmed, we explode with life, with meaning, with peace; or it is the place where, if spurned, we can be mortally wounded. It is a place where everything hangs in the balance – life or death.
This seems to explain one of our greatest fears (regardless of who you are) – rejection. We run from it like a rabid, ghetto pitbull. We cannot live with it. Boys, girls, men and women – if we find the answer to the question, ‘Does anyone love me?’ or ‘Am I worthy of love?’ to be ‘No’ (i.e. we experience rejection), then life loses all of it’s meaning and we then ask, ‘What’s the use?’ The only point in living is if we are loved and what rejection speaks to us is the opposite, ‘You are no good, you are not lovable, you are not loved.’
And so we are egged on by this need to not be rejected. We will go to anything to satisfy this need, regardless of how harmful it is for us. We need to find a voice that will assure us and remind us; something or someone into whom we can gaze and find at the end of our gaze that we are seen and loved. For this glance and this word our hearts roam and wander: from party to party, conversation to conversation, book to book, relationship to relationship. If we find love, we find life. If we are rejected, we die – and we cannot live dying all the time. This is what it means to be human.
Here’s some really good news: to be a disciple of Jesus means that there is only one place we need to go for the affirmative answer to this question (i.e. to escape rejection), there is only one face and one voice we need to seek. He looks at us more exposed and naked than we know ourselves to be and He says, “Woah. Yeah – you are good. Can I just delight in you for all eternity? Man, do I love you.” We who are ugly, He loves and, in loving, makes us beautiful.
Now here’s some daunting news: Jesus then tells us to ‘Come! Come with Me on My Mission. Come risk rejection with Me! Come with Me to love a world who will not affirm us, will not accept us and will cast us out! Come be hated for my sake.’ Gulp!
This is key! As a disciple of Jesus, we need not be slaves to our fear of rejection any longer! We have been freed from needing to find our meaning, our life, our identity, our approval in anything or anyone else but Him! So now we can be really, actually free to love – because any opportunity to love carries with it a risk of rejection. Any approach of love is one we can only make naked – exposed, seen, open to rejection. But if we live within the swell of Jesus’ Mission then we need not fear being seen and subsequently rejected by others – in fact, this only makes us seen and loved by Jesus even more! We can’t lose! The death of rejection has no hold us any longer.
Thus, be not afraid. Jesus asks more than we can handle, but He is all we need. Run barefoot after Him and dive from the cliff into the Wave that surges for the hearts of all mankind. Jesus wants us to be exposed, to be vulnerable, to risk the chance to be rejected – meaning, He wants us to love. Fear not the consequences, brothers and sisters, fear them not. Find your affirmation in Him alone and go out to be rejected, go out to love.
In all these things we more than conquer through him that has loved us. (Romans 8:37)