I write for a ministry whose byline is, “God’s not mad at you.” I think about this a lot, but as a new grandparent, I have also been thinking about the truth that he’s not disappointed with us, either.
Disappointment seems to be the universal lament of the child and the grandchild. “I can never seem to please my parents.” “I’ve stopped visiting my grandparents because all they do is harp on me.” From educational choices to jobs to where we choose to live, with whom we spend our time, how we dress, where we worship, what we do with our free time . . . many of us feel that in the midst of it all, we’ve inevitably let someone else down.
Do you follow the Humans of NY Instagram feed? I love that guy. My eyes have been opened to fascinating and compelling stories of women and men all over the world because he’s taken the time to listen to people’s stories and tell them to the rest of us.
But there’s a prosaic thread that runs through many of their narratives: we all seem to think we’re letting someone down.
Just last month one beautiful “human of New York”, created in the image of God, told Instagram that she feels like she can never measure up. “My grades suffered, and my parents were so disappointed. They wanted me to go to university and get a real job. They were Haitian. They knew poverty. And they didn’t want the same thing to happen to their kids. Now I’m working in a hotel as a cleaning lady. I feel like I’m invisible.”
Sometimes, no matter what we do, how hard we try, what obstacles we face internally or externally, we end up disappointing someone. That’s my sorry story, too. I can’t be everything and sometimes anything everyone wants me to be. Mostly, I feel like a big fat disappointment.
It’s not the truth.
In times of self-doubt and redundant internal yarn-spinning, I have to remind myself of the truth. Here it is:
He made us.
He knows our frame. He understands our humanity.
He doesn’t expect us to be more than Jesus.
[From Genesis to Revelation and everywhere in between]
He gave us Jesus so that we could never disappoint him again.
[1 John 2:1-2]
He kisses us on the forehead in tenderness at the end of a long string of disappointments.
[1 John 3:1-2 does not tell us that he “kisses us on the forehead”, but I think that metaphor is a beautiful way to picture how kind and tender his love is for us, even when he knows from our birth that we will not live up to his expectations.]
God’s not mad at you. He’s not disappointed with you, either. And if I were Steve Brown I’d say, “You think about that.”