We call him Mr. Lime because he’s the brightest of all on the slopes, dressed in brilliant green to match his Burton board. He reminds me often that he’s not one of us.
“I’m a BOARDER, Mom! Not a SKIER!”
“Yes dear, you’re not like the other four of us. I forgot. Once again.”
He stands apart.
He digs his edges into the slopes differently than skiers.
Deep down, in that place where we get real with ourselves, do we ever want to feel kind of unique, kind of special, kind of adored, kind of like we have that special edge on others?
Deep down, are we seeking the approval of others to fill the void we feel?
Truth is, we’re all love-seekers in love-deficient relationships.
We keep hoping to find that one perfect love, that one perfect friend. And in the end, all our chipping away at others, trying to turn them into what we desire, ends up backfiring. Trying to make anyone into a false god to fill our deepest needs will chip away at any relationship and even our own souls. Rather than creating a masterpiece of wonder, we wonder what went wrong when all our efforts at chipping away cause our relationships to crumble and fall.
And if we think we’ve found those special relationships that make us feel whole? Then we’ve taken our treasure and placed it in a fragile hope-hold that will inevitably become a choke-hold, sucking the life out of our relationships and ourselves.
But we don’t want to think about that.
Let’s think about now.
If others think we’re great, then we must be great. The puffing of pride is intoxicating, giving us a high, anesthetizing us to our existential pain. For a while.
And then our Selves keep going, searching, seeking, scratching, clawing, conforming to anything and everything that will give us praise which we equate with love. It’s a fix.
We want our “likes” and our “shares” and our growing social platforms. We want our “stages” and our “applause” and our “write-ups”. We fear we’ll be nothing without them. The soul has an insatiable appetite for glory because we truly don’t believe enough in God’s sovereignty.
Yes, the flesh of us wants the next fix for us.
We seek any praise that might ward off malaise. Heaven forbid God might expose our charades. Heaven forbid God might invade our souls and help us see:
We’re loved as we are just because He who loves us made us.
He who loves us is not content to let us live these half-dead lives where we walk around layered with sin to the point where we become caricatures of God’s holy handiwork.
Because our Heavenly Father loves us perfectly, He desires to chip away until He removes everything that keeps us from closer communion with Him, the One who made us and loves us—even with all these layers that hide us—the true us.
Jesus died to set us free from ourselves.
We are invited to stop our anxious hold on the false gods of relationships, accomplishment, applause, money, possessions, pride, even life—anything and anyone we cling to more than God Himself.
False gods never live long. False gods never fill for long.
Only God’s love lasts. Only God’s love satiates our deepest soul hunger.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
We don’t have to mold and make ourselves, hungering and thirsting for love and approval.
We already have all the love and approval we could ever want right in the heart of God.
He made us and redeemed us from all the false gods we hope will save us but don’t. He made us and redeemed us through Jesus Christ’s payment for us—full payment to a just God for all the sin that separates us from our Holy Father. Jesus died for love.
Bend the knee. Accept the true life of Christ God offers for free, with each rising sun. And when this less-than-perfect life gets you down, place fresh faith in Jesus, again and again.
And always remember that going down gives the greatest opportunity to find our way up.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
Trials come to everyone, sure as the sun rises.
“ . . . in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We can be overcomers when we walk closely with Christ, looking to Him in everything, living for Him as our main thing, letting Him chisel away all the chaff that doesn’t belong on our souls—the stuff that makes us sick sooner or later.
Living a True Life is not about performance or achievement or one edging out or one-upping another. It’s not about gaining humanity’s praise as a temporary fix that never truly fixes our deepest fear—that we’re not loved for who we really are, by God or by others.
Mr. Lime and I caught a ski lift together. Just after we sat, my ski tips caught the mound of snow in front of us and snapped off. We rode up a bit, watching my skis on the ground behind.
The ski lift operator noticed and stopped the lift—the whole lift, full of PEOPLE! He ran, grabbed my skis from the snow, and handed them to the couple on the chair behind me and Mr. Lime.
At first, I was embarrassed. I looked stupid, I thought. I inconvenienced the other skiers/boarders by stopping the lift, I thought. I inconvenienced the ski lift operator, I thought. I wanted to crawl into a hole. But I was on a lift and couldn’t get down. My pride was pricked like an over-inflated balloon with a pin.
And then, I noticed something sublime.
Mr. Lime was laughing. He wasn’t embarrassed that his mother had just stopped the whole lift of people and that everyone was staring at us. He was accepting me in my human mother weakness, knowing his own, laughing at all the silly things that happen in life to all of us.
Others behind me happily helped me, carrying my skis to the top of the mountain.
Maybe because when we show our needy we help others relate to our humanity? Maybe because being needy doesn’t have to be ghastly? Because maybe, we can all breathe a bit more freely when we take on humility?
As if losing my skis wasn’t enough, I fell off the lift at the top of the mountain.
Flat on my face.
Chairs going over me. With people in them. The lift operator pushed the emergency STOP button and came out to help me. I decided to make the best of a bad situation. I started laughing hysterically, saying I was OK even though my laughter made it hard to get up. When I finally did, I looked forward and saw my son:
Flat out. Shaped like a cross. Open-hearted, open-armed. Open to God. And I thought, in that silly, potentially humiliating moment . . .
I am one incredibly blessed woman. God sees me and loves me, no matter how I fail. My son sees me and loves me, no matter how I fail. And I see me and accept all the love of God and others, no matter how I fail.
I felt nothing less than bliss.
God is the perfect lover of us all. When we grasp this great truth, we can love ourselves rightly and then love others as we are loved.
God is our good and perfect Father, not wanting to harm but to heal. He is our good and perfect Father, knowing we’ll never find our soul’s rest in anything or anyone but Him.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. (Augustine of Hippo, Confessions)
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! Psalm 40:4
Surely, we’ll find ourselves on the downhill (or uphill!) slope of disappointment at times.
Maybe, we’ll see ourselves without the boards we’ve relied on to carry us.
Maybe, we’ll finally find that no amount of human love or adulation or applause, no matter what form it all takes, can possibly fill that Augustine hole that’s shaped only for God.
Maybe, when we lose our dependencies and fall flat on our bums (or faces), we will roll to our backs, look up at the sky, spread eagle, and laugh—a letting go, freeing, thankful kind of laugh, thankful for the Master Artist’s latest chipping away of all that doesn’t belong—chipping away at all we need to be set free.
For a powerful, moving drama on the theme of sculpting away, in love, what doesn’t belong, click on this link: