We pulled away from the party in a few moments of silence as the mid-2000s minivan hummed beneath our seats. The sun was beginning to set and an aura of peace was settling, just to be broken by an avalanche of words.
“Marina, you were bragging way too much tonight and it embarrassed me. I know people like to talk about themselves, but it’s also good to ask people about their lives, too.”
I sat gripping the wheel stunned at the sharp accuracy yet graceful and kind nature of the words my brother had just spoken to me. It isn’t often my brother offers me life advice and it isn’t often that he corrects me on something other than video game technique or his room privacy. But in that moment all I could think was, “He is so right, how could I have been so blind?”
He continued to explain himself and how I could be more considerate next time. I could do nothing but apologize. My mind tried to rattle off a list of excuses for my actions, but then I stopped. I knew my brother had hit upon something I didn’t want to admit to myself: deep down my default is to take pride in my lifestyle.
Talking about myself only turns people away. No part of my bragging and selfish attitude that night had reflected Christ or His love.
Then my mind started with new thoughts, “What will those people you were with think of me now—that I’m selfish? Stuck up? Maybe…” No, wait, stop. That’s not even the point! Self-righteousness and fear of failure had taken over my heart and mind once again.
After reflecting on my actions and emotions that day, I realized this: We all have a pride problem and we all have an insecurity problem…at the same time. Yes, logically this makes no sense, but I’m sure you can agree with me that this paradox is something we struggle with daily. On the day I just mentioned, I felt like I had something to prove to the world—that I was good enough, smart enough, rich enough, fun enough, and interesting enough.
By listing off great things about the life of Marina White I thought I could gain approval. What I didn’t realize was that this “aura of perfection” I wanted to give off was nothing more than a mask covering a void in my heart. I didn’t want to recognize this void because that would make me vulnerable.
What my heart always has and always will long for are the words, “you are beautiful,” “I’ve noticed you…you are worthy of my time, attention, and pursuit,” “I want to pursue you,” “you have captivated me,” “I want to know you,” “I want to spend my life with you.”
These words and others create a void inside each of us. We spend our years searching for the person or thing that will free us of our prideful façade. We want to be free and whole again.
Here’s the problem:
While searching for wholeness, we stumble upon the world’s cheap substitutes for adoration. We jump in too fast, we take a wrong turn, we lose control. We are not as strong as we think we are.
The world leaves us rejected, broken, and scorned. We have no choice but to hit rock bottom. But that’s not the end. At the bottom of the rocky void in our heart we have no choice but to look up. Instead of staring our problem—our mask—in the face, we see something more beautiful. We see a Savior’s love.
Into the depths of the mire of our sin and filth, a glorious Savior came to take our place.
We no longer are slaves to our own pride and insecurities. He has lifted us out and made our heart whole again through the power of His Spirit. Our declaration of Jesus as Lord establishes that we will boast in Him alone.
Every day he whispers to our hearts, “YOU are beautiful,” “I’ve noticed YOU…YOU are worthy of my time, attention, and pursuit,” “I want to pursue YOU,” “YOU have captivated me,” “I want to know YOU,” “I want to spend my life with YOU.”
His love has given us every reason to be humble, yet every reason to feel adored. From now until forever I will declare back to my Savior the love He has declared for me because He is ALWAYS worthy to be praised.