I went to go visit “Peggy” when she was in jail several weeks ago. She was not very talkative, but she did ask me to give her a positive word. All I could think to say was that there was hope for her. She has since gotten out, but little has changed in her life. When I was talking with “Peggy” the other day, she told me about the trouble she was in, her boyfriend being in jail, and rumors being spread about her. She said she just wanted to go somewhere else. I asked her where she would go and what would she do? She answered by saying she had dreams. With that she pulled out her journal to show me the list she had started of her dreams and goals. Among being a better speaker, and writer, playing the violin, and starting her own band, was not being forgotten.
At the top of the following page, in pretty print was another list, entitled “Positive Things About Me.” “Peggy,” at the suggestion of someone, began writing down things she liked about herself. The existence and brevity of the list spoke volumes. It was suggested that she could always refer to it when she was having a bad day.
For “Peggy” bad days were much more frequent than good ones. So much so that the thought of being loved enough to be remembered had been reduced to a dream and a list written on a piece of paper had become a source of love and encouragement for her.
Being used, discarded, and rejected was a far more common experience than being loved, and every time she was rejected it made her question what was wrong with her. Therefore, she took a well worn route common to all of us. She just had to make herself irresistibly lovable. Maybe by becoming a famous musician or adding to her list of “good things about Peggy” would finally make her good enough to be loved? These two lists, attempts to prove to her and others that she really was or could be lovable, were born out of “Peggy’s” aching to be genuinely loved and remembered.
However, you cannot be remembered if you were never really known, and you cannot be genuinely loved, if you are never genuinely seen, in the fullness of your dignity and depravity. To love someone just for the good things about them is to completely disregard whole parts of a person, and that person is then only useful when they can offer something good. Love becomes conditional and more exploitation than genuine care.
I imagine it breaks the heart of Christ to know how hard “Peggy,” and I try to make ourselves lovable by being better people, to settle for the exploitive, shallow love of this world rather than being truly loved by Him. Christ knows us more intimately than we even know ourselves and loves us, died for us, and rose again for us all in spite of that. When I told “Peggy” there was hope for her, this was the hope for her, me, and the rest of the world that I was talking about. - susan
“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul. ‘Therefore, I have hope in Him.’”