Yesterday was a good day.
We, as humans, are odd creatures. Complicated creations. Created that way, by God, of course. But sometimes I wonder, well, why? Why create us with all the odd quirks that we possess? Our infinitely varied personalities. Our vast array of skills, gifts, talents. The myriad of different points of view, social skills, interests, affections, beliefs.
We truly are a fascinating creation among fascinating creations. Give me an airport, a store, a school, a business or a church full of people, and I can spend hours observing everything. People are interesting.
Yet in spite of all our differences, some things are consistent, I think, for each of us. Our search for meaning, our need for God, our longing to be loved, to matter, to make a difference.
In thinking of these similarities, one thing comes to mind to me tonight, in light of the course of this day: the ache for someone to be proud of us.
I suppose there is some, or maybe a lot, of sinful pride wrapped up in that ache–the desire. I don’t fully understand why it is in our souls and minds.
I absolutely love my job. It is far more than a job to me; it is saving grace to myself and my crew. On so many levels–financial, yes, absolutely. But also the gift of being able to work from home and therefore in my kid’s world. I can work and listen to Mark’s long-winded stories. I can work and listen to my girl practice violin and ukulele. I can work and take a call from my Navy boy, or visit with my oldest girl when she drops by to “borrow” internet. Plus, I work with tremendously smart, fun and hard-working individuals.
I work hard at my job. Most days find me putting in 10-12 hours, at least. And most weekends find me putting in a good amount of time as well. However, I’m just a small cog in a fantastic company, so I was completely surprised yesterday when I received the most incredibly encouraging phone call from one of my program managers, with incredible news for the future. It was a tremendous “pat-on-the-back”–a moment to hear “We are proud of you.” Whew.
There is something–settling? Yes, I think that is the word. There is something settling about having someone you respect, or someone who’s opinion you value, or someone who you think cares for you–who sees, knows and recognizes/understands the tremendous effort and fight you put in to life–there is something settling about hearing that that person is proud. And grateful. There is acknowledgement in the words “I am proud of you” that says “I know you are working hard. I know it’s a fight. I see that and know that and will not forget that. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Keep pushing forward.”
There is tremendous, tremendous encouragement in knowing someone is proud of you. It’s the stuff of 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” It’s that act of being built up by one another that contributes a piece to the process of becoming stronger, more stead fast, more able to stand fast.
But where does God come into all of this?
There is a part of my brain and soul that aches for God to be proud of me as well. And I’m not entirely sure that ache is a good thing. I’m sure that it is not, in fact. It is tinged with the ugly kind of pride. Of legalism and check-list Christianity. Of the watering-down of the role of grace, and the pull towards work-based salvation, which–in some ways–would be easier. To understand, that is.
But I’m not entirely sure that it is entirely wrong, either.
As Christ-followers, as believers, we are the sons and daughters of God. Scripture tells us this over and over again: 1 Corinthians 8:6, Matthew 23:9, and the amazing Galatians 4:5-7…and so many others.
And, as children of God, we (probably fallibly, which isn’t even a word) respond in similar ways to how we respond to those on earth whose opinion we respect and cherish, be that fathers, or older brothers, or older sisters, or friends, or bosses, or landlords, or, well, anyone. We ache to know that, like these imperfect humans that we respect, the perfect God who we cherish sees, knows, recognizes the fight, and is proud.
He sees far more than human eyes.
He sees the fight for joy. He sees the fight against doubt and cynicism. He sees the sleepless nights. He knows the hardness of heart, the weariness of the soul, the battle against sin. And, so I wonder, is He proud? Does God experience pride in us, his messed up, stumbling, awkward children who are fighting for every inch? Is He proud over our desire to be faithful with the tasks He has called us to do–the tasks to care for tremendous needs around us, the task to love our families well, the task to glorify Him?
Several weeks ago, I attended my son’s Navy graduation. Back home, friends from my church were watching the ceremony online and were texting me in real-time. We were laughing, because the MC several times nearly shouted to the new sailors these words: “Well Done, Sailor!” I loved that.
And, that phrase got me to thinking of that same phrase in scripture, found in Matthew 25:14-30: the parable of the talents (which is actually some sort of coin). The “master” entrusted 3 of his servants with coins, and each made decisions about what to do with those coins while the master was away. When the master returned, they each had to give an accounting for what they did. Much can be said about their decisions, but that’s not what I want to address here. I want to focus on the master’s response, to two of the three servants:
Well done. Good and faithful. There is proud-ness in those words from the master. He is proud of two of his servants. They have done well. The master if joyful in the wake of their faithfulness, and invites them to enter his joy.
To hear those words, from God our father–Well done, good and faithful daughter–whew. I ache for that.
In the meantime, we as Christ-followers are called to work hard and be faithful, in all areas of life. And, we as Christ-followers, are to encourage each other–“building up one another”. Who needs to hear that you are proud of them today? Who would be deeply encouraged by those words?
Well done, indeed.
1 Thessalonians 5:14