I had a pretty tough childhood. I looked different than the kids in my town. They made fun of me for being scrawny. I wasn’t as athletic as them. I wanted so desperately to be accepted, but instead I was othered. At age ten, I remember thinking “I should just go kill myself. Then they’d feel sorry for bullying me like this.”
Like many others, I started to rebel as a teenager. Funny thing is that my peers started to respect me for it, so I went all in on that strategy. I spent the next decade selling fake IDs, stealing cars and dealing drugs. I had multiple run ins with the police.
Looking back, I realize now that those efforts to earn acceptance were misplaced.
Yesterday we had some disciplinary issues with our oldest son Kyan. I won’t get into details, but at one point he screamed “I just want to kill myself!” He proceeded to jump into the pool with his clothes on and held his head underwater. It was more for dramatic effect than anything, but it had me thinking about my youth this morning, and it brought me to Matthew 3.
In this passage, Jesus emerges from his baptism and God speaks out “this is my son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” Whether you’re a Christian or not, it’s hard to deny that this dude called Jesus had a pretty significant impact on the world. And yet before he “did” one thing… before he preached one sermon, before he cast out one demon, before he healed one person… Before Jesus started his public ministry he was fully known and fully loved.
Another translation puts God’s words this way. “You are my dearly loved son, and you bring me great joy.”
The truth is that any effort to earn acceptance is misplaced. You’re not valued because of anything you’ve done. You’re not loved because you’ve been endowed with gifts or talents. God waited on me patiently for decades, smiling as I strived to earn the respect of my peers, my family and my heavenly father. But it wasn’t until I had my own son that I really understood how much I’m loved before I “do” anything.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed today like I am, God wants you to know that he loves you. You bring him incredible joy. Even before you lift a finger, he’s already so pleased with you.