I stood in line at the grocery store. Intentionally, I’d left my phone in my pocket even though it whispered how easily it could resolve my anxiety. A tap, a slight scroll, a text could get me through the awkward waiting, but I resisted. I didn’t want to be that girl who escaped into her own private world. I wanted to be present. I glanced over my shoulder and smiled at the young kids swarming around in the shopping cart with their unopened treats. I looked at their mother. She looked tired. I could see it in the way her shoulders hunched forward and her eyes glazed over. I smiled at her too. That connection made her straighten up. She smiled back with a “you understand” nod. At the checkout counter, I chatted about the day. I asked the young man, “What are you really passionate about?” It felt risky to ask such an elaborate question in our three-minute interaction, but I did. His body shifted. “I want to be a chiropractor,” he said and shared briefly about his night classes and balancing a busy schedule. I left the store with bags full of food and a full heart. I did it. I loved them.
Then my next thought came in as quiet as a teenager sneaking in late — People love me.
I wish I could say this was the first time a thought like that crept in the back door of my mind. But it was not. I hear this often. I seek it out often. I want it always. I want strangers to love me.
This isn’t a “I want people to love Christ in me” kind of love. No, I want them to love me. It’s weird saying that out loud, embarrassing almost. But it’s true. It’s also true that I want to love others. I want to be the woman at the grocery store who’s nice to the baggers. I want to connect with the struggling mom and give her encouragement. I want that, but I also want people to see me loving others. If I love someone, that’s good. But if other people see me love — well, that’s even better. I find such consolation in the affirmation eyes of others.
I wonder what it would be like to love without being seen. Loving to be seen is such a temptation. My heart is hungry to be noticed, adored, wanted, praised. If my soul had eyes, you would see me always searching for another hit of love from a friend but also a stranger. I want more and more of it. I am never satisfied.
It’s exhausting living in such a way that I need more. Yet, I know more will never give me the enough I need. I want to love the way Jesus invites us to love in the Beatitudes. Matthew 6:3 says, “ . . . do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing . . . ” If I’m honest, I know what my right hand is always doing, and I secretly want it to be publicized for everyone to see on the nightly news.
My love lacks a purity to it. I don’t love for love’s sake. I love for my sake. And though I could really get sucked down into a heap of grief, shame, and pride right about now, I think there is also a gentle invitation.
God knows. God is not surprised by my addictive need to be known. My impure motivations are not a shock. I want to be loved by strangers, but more deeply than anything, I think I want to be loved by God. I want to know His love in a way that sustains me and secures me. I want to know His love in a compelling way so that I don’t desperately need the praise of anyone else.
Matthew 6:4 says, “ . . . let your giving be done in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Jesus is talking about a secret exchange.
When I give in secret, God meets me in that secret place. It’s such an intimate place. I have secrets with my husband and secrets with my best friend. To be honest, those are the most tender places in my story. I only keep secrets with my closest people. I wonder if what happens in the secret place with Christ is far greater than the affirmation winks I get from people I pass on the sidewalk.
The invitation isn’t to stop being kind to strangers. The invitation is to be with God in my secret thoughts — those sinful ones that slip in aren’t meant to be silenced, hushed, or ignored. They are meant to be brought into the light with Christ. I let Christ come close to my true heart. I ask God to purify me. I ask God to meet me in the quiet places where my soul searches for love from everyone else but Him. I let my actions be an offering of love instead of a desperate attempt to be loved. I let Him into the hidden chambers of my wandering thoughts. And He meets me with the love I am really looking for.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
Amen dear Anjuli! I recognize that struggle in myself all too well. The accuser loves to whisper I am not enough, I need more praise, doing the right thing is unpurely motivated. He’s subtle & sneaky about those whispers. But God treasures me regardless~even when I was His enemy!~ & calls me to be loving toward others so that they may see Him & bring Him praise. So like God that He draws me closer to Him even when I obey with mixed motives. He is refining the selfish motives & replacing them with Himself in the secret places! Wish I wasn’t such a s-l-o-w learner! Thank you for sharing! Bless you richly!
Kandy Taylor says
Thank you for sharing. Very thought provoking!!
Thank you so much for your honesty. I too struggle with this and have noticed how quickly that desire to be loved turns to resentment when others don’t notice what I am doing for them and how much it is draining me. Recently God convicted me that it is better to say “no” upfront than say “yes” and be resentful, but I also need to work on everything you have highlighted. Thank you for lifting the shame and shifting the focus to solutions. It really is about knowing God sees and enjoying those secrets!
Oh wow what a relief! I was worried I was the only one that struggled with this! Thank you so much for this, Anjuli. God is so awesome and so timely. I am so thankful He never gives up on us!!!
I am so impressed with the Truth you have written. If we can all get it–emotional completion in God’s Love–then that Perfect Love will cast out all fear. Kudos for your bravery speaking your deep secrets.
Alice Kennedy says
Thank you for this! The phrase—in a compelling way—really struck me. I long to feel God’s presence in my life in a compelling way, which would be to feel his love in a compelling way for me. Your writing is so honest. I think often about my motives for my acts of kindness—they are not always pure, which makes me really sad, but I am trying to be aware of it and correct it. This is quite a journey to draw closer to God.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
There are times in my life anjuli I want to Loved for me. Have just one more friend. As the ones I have I hardly ever see. Two sisters live 86 miles away from me. They have lived 86 miles away from me for years. That use to only live 10 to 15 minutes away from me. When they lived in Fermanagh. One other Friend who live 10 miles away from me. I hardly ever see her. Because she busy with family and work. Because two live so far away. I see all three of now and then but not as often as I like. But the one that lives 10 miles away from me. I see her more . Than the one that live 86 miles away. So I have no other friends. I do but not that often. Once in every while. Get I wish I had a one more Godly friend close by that I see more often than the three I don’t see that often. The three friends I don’t see that often are so good to me. If I need them all I have to do is text them and they will text me back. They will pray for me if I need prayer. You can tell then anything they will only tell God and cover me in prayer. They are so lovely. Only thing is I wish I could see them more often. Especially the one that only lived about 10 miles from were I live. My three friends are saved. I do wish at times I had one more friend. That I see more often. To go for walks with and do Bible studies together and prayer. Then go as treat for the odd for a cup coffee. I then begin to wonder at times why don’t I have more friends. Even just one. Why is it I don’t have more friends. Even just one and why can’t people get to like me and Love me for who I am. I don’t want to many just one. I being honest about this. Not that often thankfully. It does get me down. I have wonderful Husband. He loves me so much. But I do feel at times I could do with another friend who I see more often. Than the others I don’t. Then I pray about it. Ask God to help me find just one more friend who is saved. That I see more often. Then I get I know it is the Holy Spirit speaking to me. You have the best friend of all me Jesus. Then I say Dawn stop Grumbling. You are loved by the best friend in the world. That is Jesus. Then at that very moment. I say Dawn you are loved by the only true King of the world Jesus. He is always there for you. Sure he loves you so much even better than the three friends you have that you hardly ever see. Sure he loves you so much he went to Calvary for you and the rest of the world. So I then say. Dawn what better friend could you want or ask for. That is so true. He (Jesus) tells me. I am loved and I daughter of the king of kings. That is amazing. So I don’t need any more friends. Unless Jesus sends them. Even if I don’t see the ones I have that often. So JESUS IS MY BEST FRIEND OF ALL. As I can talk to him every day. He is always there for me. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little. Thanks again for today reading and what was written. Keeping you all incourage in my prayers. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Me, too, Anjuli! Me, too. All of it. I’m right there with you, feeling all of those feelings. Thank you for so eloquently expressing them here. Happy Thanksgiving!
So embarrassingly true. I thought I was the only one.
I love what you wrote about letting God in on our sinful secret thoughts. The shameful thoughts we want to shoo away.
This brings to mind a picture of 2 Corinthians 10:5. Instead of shooing them away to hide in the dark corners of my mind, I can look at them head on, take them captive, and bring them (though they squirm and struggle for escape all the way to the feet of Christ. That, by His hand, they may be made obedient to Him.
Thank you for your honesty. It really ministered to me today. I have the same needs, but my life has been homebound because of my disabilities for the last 16 years.
Today my daily interactions, in person, is limited to 2 other people. So that’s driven me to seeking God’s ♥️ more. Like you my motives aren’t always pure. I seek Him, because I have no one else around, that I can share myself with. And also like you, I struggle to stay off the internet; Because it quickly becomes a distracting time-waster.
I know God has me in this season of isolation, for a reason. But I often complain about it to Him, be ausr the loneliness can overwhelm me at times.
Thank you for reminding me to bring my failings, my wrong motivations to Him. Those things, I don’t like looking at. He can handle them, & wants to help me with them!
Me too. I want exactly that.
Beth Williams says
We all want to be noticed & loved. It is part of our nature-the way God made us. God warns us to do our righteousness in front of others but to do so in private. Matthew 6:1-5 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
It is nice to be rewarded for our good deeds, but we should do them out of a love for God. God will reward us in Heaven. I remember a time when my aging dad was living in assisted living. He had essential tremors that made it hard to feed himself. One day I was there at lunch time with 2 men on either side of him. He was having much difficulty eating. I offered to feed him & he nodded yes. While I was feeding him a man on one side told me that I would get stars in my crown for this. I felt like it was God telling me I was where He wanted me & He saw my deeds.
This just completely “wowed” me, Anjuli. I feel exactly the same and regularly ask G-d to cleanse me, change me, and—as you emphasize—leave me so *bedazzled* by His love that others’ feelings toward me will not matter. Truly, I think about this ALL the time.
I will read it again tonight. And then probably again. 😉
Can’t thank you enough for your courage/willingness to be honest. There are so many of us “out there.”
Messiah bless you!
Karen Homan says
This is so honest! Thank you! I’ve always been sort of a behind-the -scenes person too. A few years after college a sorority sister said, “oh yeah. You were there- but not there.” I cannot tell you how angry I was. I had done everything – worked on things that others didn’t want to do, or covered obligations for others when they backed out- missing out on things I’d wanted to do. I felt completely unappreciated. Many years later I can say I still feel that way sometimes. I try to remember God sees and appreciates me. Not the easiest thing to remember but…
I have this too. If I’m not loved and adored by the masses, I’m having a bad day. He reminds me one of the fruits of His Spirit is Love. This is impartation of the fathers heart in you toward others. And I thank the Father for you. People are starving for eye-to-eye contact, a nod and a smile. May He draw us both into such intimacy with Him that we are unfettered by the need to be seen and valued in this realm.
Christine Beck says
I can so relate to this. Thank you so very much for sharing and being open and real. I so needed this today. Be Blessed!