You don’t have to try so hard

sadI was driving recently when this song came on the radio. It was uncharacteristically quiet in the car, so I was able to tune in to the lyrics for the first time. As I was thinking about how to explain them to my 7-yr old daughter, who I could also tell was listening, she beat me to the punch, saying, Mom, this song is about being yourself.

Wait a second,
Why should you care, what they think of you,
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

As usual, she was right. On the heels of my pleasure that she recognised this truth, that she should be herself, came the worry that she might not always do so. I know I haven’t always recognised it, even when, looking back, I see that I should have — and all too often I still don’t. There are many ways I have felt pressured over the years to make myself into the image of someone who is not me.

Society, though an extremely strong causative factor, has not been the only one. Christianity, or my former understanding of it, was once another. I once believed that the admonitions to “die to self” meant that I was to strive to cut everything out of myself that was me, until all that remained was Jesus.

But oh, how heartbroken I would be were my daughter to try to cut anything out of herself to be what she thought I, or anyone else, wanted her to be.

When you think about it, if life were an exercise in removing as much of ourselves as possible in order for Jesus to shine through, what would have been the point of any of it? Why make a plan to include humanity in the love and dance of the Trinity only to exclude us from the dance because we, in our humanity, were insufficient.

Indeed, we in our humanity alone are insufficient. But the GOOD NEWS is that we have not been alone in our humanity since Jesus entered our world as an infant, becoming permanently united with his humanity and with the humanity of every person who had ever lived and who ever would.

We are not just hosts for him to inhabit, or soldiers for his will. Triune God desires a love relationship with each one of us. With so many people in the world, it’s hard to imagine that we are each that important to God. He is that limitless though.

You don’t have to try so hard,
You don’t have to give it all away,
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up,
You don’t have to change a single thing.

By opening our eyes to who we are in Jesus, we will change — but we’ll change in the same way a flower changes when it opens and blooms. Dying to self doesn’t mean the death of our desires, dreams and talents, but the death of our false-selves. Our false-selves are the parts of us that have grown from fear: fear that we are not enough, fear that we are evil or dirty, fear that we will never measure up, fear that we are all alone in this world, fear that drives us to separate ourselves from others so we might be noticed. Who we are in Jesus does not include those false selves because in his eyes, and joined with us permanently as he is, we are enough — we are not evil or dirty — it has never been about measuring up — he will never leave us alone in this world or any other — and he really does have the capacity to love every individual who has ever lived as if he or she were the only individual who has ever lived.

I believe that we are designed to be people of the utmost kindness and gentleness — to both others and ourselves. Change in that direction is always a good thing, and rather than stripping away from us that which we are, it reveals who we are at heart: a beloved, beautiful union of divine and human.

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
‘Cause I like you.

Song lyrics:  Try by Colbie Caillat.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

3 comments so far

  1. tony on

    this phrase you used in this paragraph, dieing to self, isn’t that Paul merely saying his physical life was in danger everyday in his day and time of preaching the gospel? To my understanding of grace, there is no such theology to die to self at all. Please feel free to explain this further because I want to know what is true.

  2. Beloved on

    Thank you I needed to hear this today. Yes, I used to feel like I had to “die to myself” because my ultimate goal was to be just like this perfect Jesus that I thought I saw in the Bible, but God doesn’t want a million “Jesus robots” walking around on earth. I believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are especially pleased when we stop try to be something that we are not and just let God love us as who we are and reveal in the fact that we are already perfect …and perfectly loved. When we all can get a revelation of that concept, everything else falls into place.

  3. Charles Hyatt on

    Thank you Jeannine for your post. I used some of your material in a sermon several weeks ago

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