A tear slipped down her cheek.
Megan, one of the American Idol finalists, quickly wiped the tear away. The producer had asked her a question. Something along the lines of if she made her parents proud.
“I make my mom proud, yes.” She paused. “I make my dad proud when I am on TV.”
And then the tear, fiercely wiped away.
Immediately tears welled up in my own eyes in response. That. That longing. That feeling. The feeling that rises up in each one of us. The longing to be seen and loved and valued no matter what.
Megan’s parents are divorced and my guess is that she hadn’t heard from her dad for a long time. Until she began to sing on TV. Then he was interested. Then he was proud.
At some level it makes sense to us. It’s easy to imagine being loved when we are all shiny and good. It’s hard to imagine being loved when we feel invisible. When we aren’t doing a single thing that seems to merit appreciation and value. Or when we’re at our worst. Pouty. Grumpy. Sassy. Or when we’re making bad decisions. Isn’t that when we hide? Keeping those dark places under cover? For who could possible love us then?
And then Jesus.
Who intentionally seeks us out when we are “yet sinners.” He sees us. He loves us. His heart is tender. His love is strong. And because he loves us in the darkness, we are drawn to his light.
I remember trying to give up smoking. I felt so much shame over that stupid habit. I kept trying and kept failing miserably. Then one evening, I snuck away in my car to have a cigarette. I felt that familiar shame wash over me and at that very moment I went over the crest of a hill and saw the most magnificent sunset. Love washed over me with the rays of the light. I couldn’t help but think…
Jesus, now? You love me now?
“Elsa,” A whisper to my heart, “I love you always.”
And with that, I rolled down the window and tossed the cigarette into the darkness.
Being seen and loved at my worst made me long to be my best.
Oh, what magnificent love is this?