When you’re afraid of looking bad

 

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I’d been to see my internist. We’d been struggling to figure out why I had bad stretches and what we could do to improve them. He’d asked me to keep a closer record of heart rate and blood pressure in a good week and then “when—no, if” I had another bad spell to record everything again and come back and see him.

I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if I didn’t have another bad stretch?” Then I found myself thinking, “But then he’d think I’d made it all up.” It didn’t matter that it had all been long since tested and proven in a medical setting; that’s where my mind went.

“I don’t want to look bad.”

I recognized the bottom line instantly. I’d never been so honest with God about it before. I’d never realized it so clearly before, though now that it was out I could see it was the bottom line in my fear of writing vulnerably, of speaking up in a group, of just about everything.

I didn’t have time to register either the surprise of the realization or the relief of having it out in the open before I sensed a response, “I don’t want you to look bad either.” Huh? Was that God speaking? Now I had a lot more to register.

“You don’t?”

Maybe I’d thought I had to look bad to make His grace look as good as it is.

Maybe I’d figured He’d want to let me look bad now and again to beat the pride out of me.

Maybe, watching Jesus be mocked and spit on and hung naked, then hearing the command to take up my cross and follow, I’d just assumed looking bad was part of the deal and hadn’t thought to ask what I was believing about God’s heart.

What kind of lover wants to make his beloved look bad? Love is always “the resolve to make the loved party great” (Dr. J.I. Packer).

In all of Jesus’ suffering, the Father’s heart was never to make his Son look bad. It was to give him the highest possible honor, raise him to the highest possible place—and to seat us in that place of honor with him (Eph 1:19-23; 2:6-7; John 17:22-23)

God is always for us.

That doesn’t mean people will always see us bright and beautiful. Sometimes we’ll slip and fall, and part of restoration is being honest about the mess. (But then there’s a startling beauty in the courage to let the mess be seen, and in the grace that encircles it all.) And sometimes we’ll be misunderstood as we follow close on the heels of the one who was accused of blasphemy and demon possession because he was loving people he wasn’t supposed to love in ways that threatened the comfortable religious status quo.  True love, daring love, has a way of being misunderstood.

But somehow when we know that God’s intent is always to honor us, the risk of looking bad loses a lot of its fear. Maybe because it no longer feels like failure. Or no longer holds the threat of rejection. Or there’s nothing left to earn or prove. We can just get on with what we’re called to and leave the outcome to the God who is already and forever for us.

“This I know, that God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9)

5 thoughts on “When you’re afraid of looking bad

  1. Tena says:

    As always, I am touched by your sincerity and transparency. I was looking for something deeper (than I usually find in my day) as a storm rages outside and I sat by myself on the couch. Thank you for helping me go deeper yet with peace not despair.

  2. Klara van der Molen says:

    I think ” fear of rejection” is the key word here, the reason why we don’t want to look bad, the reason also why we often don’t tell the truth of how we really feel.It is easier to pretend to be okay, strong, capable and so on. That way the fear of rejection seems less. Being honest takes enormous courage and seems to need the trust factor– the need to feel safe before we can disclose what our truth really is.I think we can learn much from Jesus himself and how he trusted the Father who loved Him with such a passion.Jesus allowed Himself to be vulnerable in the hands of His Father.The question for me is would I too trust like this and take up my cross knowing I am safe in the Father’s hands as Jesus was? Thank you for making me think about all this once again.
    With all my love to you as write out these truths for us and in particular me!

  3. Sue Demmons says:

    Knowing He is cheering for us makes such a difference! Well said!

  4. brtnichn says:

    Reblogged this on { britni } and commented:
    “That doesn’t mean people will always see us bright and beautiful. Sometimes we’ll slip and fall, and part of restoration is being honest about the mess. (But then there’s a startling beauty in the courage to let the mess be seen, and in the grace that encircles it all.) And sometimes we’ll be misunderstood as we follow close on the heels of the one who was accused of blasphemy and demon possession because he was loving people he wasn’t supposed to love in ways that threatened the comfortable religious status quo. True love, daring love, has a way of being misunderstood.”

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