It wasn’t until my mid-twenties when I began to become aware of the messages that I was playing over and over to myself. And one of those messages was particularly damaging.
You see, I knew I was loved. My parents raised me with continual reminders of their unconditional love for me, and more important, God’s unconditional love for me. I definitely knew and believed that I was deeply loved by God and others.
Yet, as I sat on the couch across from my counselor, this sentence came stumbling out of my mouth:
Oh, I know Jesus loves me; I’m just not so sure He likes me.
Sister said what?! –That’s what I imagine my counselor was thinking, even though she just smiled and nodded, waiting for me to unpack what I had just said.
Growing up, we joked a lot amongst my family, “I really love you, but I don’t like you right now.” I say we joked, but many times that was a sincere statement.
I think we can all relate to that. The people we love the most tend to get under our skin the most, make us angry, hurt our feelings, and so forth. We love them, would die for them, but sometimes we just don’t like them.
Unfortunately, that concept within human relationships translated to a theological level for me. I was convinced of God’s unconditional love for me, but I was also pretty convinced that He didn’t really like me. Scripture tells us that our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves, and if that’s true– which I believe it is– why on earth would God like me?!
But that bad theology didn’t stop there.
Because if God didn’t really like me, then there was no way that people could genuinely like me, and I certainly couldn’t like me.
You see, the way we perceive God to feel about us is the ultimate measure of how we believe other people can feel about us. If you struggle with believing God loves you, you probably don’t believe people can truly love you. For me, I didn’t believe my friends would genuinely like me if they fully knew me. So I kept everyone close enough–so they felt like we were good friends–but far enough away so that they didn’t see any of my dark spots, rough edges, or learn my secrets. Because if they knew that stuff, they wouldn’t like me.
But God does like me. He likes you too.
He may not always be pleased with our decisions. He may feel grief or pain over a mess we made, but He in his overwhelming, unconditional love towards us, He also likes us.
LIKE [lahyk], verb
1. to take pleasure in; find agreeable or congenial
2. to regard with favor; have a kindly or friendly feeling for (a person, group, etc.)
David, the psalmist, warrior, and king, said it best, “He rescued me because he delights in me.” (Psalm 18:19b)
David was a “man after God’s own heart” but he was also a murderer, an adulterer, and a big fat sinner like the rest of us. Yet, God delighted in him. Another translation says God “was pleased” with him.
I don’t know what messages the tape in your head is continuously playing, but perhaps some of you resonate with what I’m saying.
What false messages are you telling yourself over and over that affect your relationship with God and others?
God loves you. God likes you. And He created you, as His image bearer, to be in healthy relationships with other people who show that same kind of love and like that He shows us.