The question was once posed to me, by a boyfriend I deemed “the love of my life” at the very tender age of 17, “Who are you to me?”
It came on the heels of him breaking up with me and me responding with a downpour of tears and anguish and a not-so-silent plea of, “How can you do this to me?” I didn’t understand how someone I cared so deeply for could care so little for me. It scarred me more than any physical or mental abuse I’ve suffered in my lifetime. It stung so deeply that I’d venture to guess it has since colored every relationship I’ve engaged in. It wounded me so completely that the gaping hole it blew in my heart has only grown wider and more painful and the patterns I’ve developed as a direct result have only grown more frequent and more disastrous. I’ve repeated his inquiry to myself at every crossroad and let it permeate my soul with every new loss that has come my way. And yet, I believe at the very tender age of 42, I am finally ready to part with the indictment once and for all.
I decided today to pose the question to myself one last time, but this time as if it were coming from a very different source and not the seventeen year old child who held my fragile teenage psyche in his unknowing hands. How would I respond if it were God himself asking the very same question, “Who are you to me?”
And though it’s difficult for me to confidently assert the answer I’ve heard time and again in various sermons and throughout the Bible, I would hope my response would be the resounding, “I am the one You love,” that He seeks. I AM the one God loves even when I am most rebellious and most unlovable. What a life-changing mantra that would be if I learned to accept, believe, and moreover, live as if it were true. I repeated it to myself about a hundred times in the mirror today hoping that somewhere along the way it would sink it. Oh to live in light of God’s truth and view of me as His creation! And so I will start here, with a different answer to the same accusatory question. I will whisper it to myself as long as I have breath to do so and I will slowly let it sink in until it thoroughly changes my perception of myself. I will one day believe it wholly and unabashedly and I will celebrate on that day a love that no earthly being can offer. I will rejoice in the love of a Father who is not satisfied with 99, but will always go after the 1! I am the 1 Jesus loves.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15)
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”