I find myself singing songs subconsciously as background music, especially at 2 am when the world around is silent and all you have is the gurgling and clicking of a baby’s tongue against white foam for a soundtrack. Daniel Tiger often takes the stage, with some virtue demonstrated in treble and base. My friend Miranda introduced me to this show, when her Bradley was as old as Eden. This show is a tribute to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and it incorporates many of the songs and ideas and themes that Fred worked into the scripts for his show so long ago. It validates kids’ feelings and then gives them tools to know how to deal with them, usually in the form of a catchy song.
Tonight’s soundtrack was this song:
It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.
There is a quote that has always bothered me. I love you not for you but for how I feel when I’m with you. It always hit me the wrong way. I don’t love you for you? But for how you make me feel? I love the emotions you draw up inside me? I love the dreams that you make come true for me, and the way you check all my boxes and you wave your magic wand and become my personal genie? What ever happened to simply just liking a person? In a world where we love boxed mac ’n’ cheese for its yummy cheesy-ness, where we love Plexus because of its health benefits, where we love Arbonne for how it youth-enizes our skin, where we love chocolate because of the gooey satisfaction it brings, how can we love God, too? Isn’t there more to it than that?
I don’t want Brandon to love me because I look good on his arm. Or because I keep a clean house or cook like Rachael Ray. Because if one day I were to lose my ability to do and my figure became flawed, would he lose his affection for me? I want him to love me for my personality, my character, the way I push through hard things and continue to find joy and bloom in dry seasons. I want him to love my sense of humor, my work ethic, my soft voice in the middle of the night when I feed our daughter, the way I kiss booboos and the way I correct his spelling, the way I pray and how I connect Scripture and life. We all desire to be completely known and completely loved. We all long to be secure in the love of someone who knows everything about us and isn’t turned off by the ugly they see. We don’t just want to be loved. We want to be liked.
So I mull over this thought of simply liking someone. What does it look like to like God? To like Jesus and all He stands for, in purity and holiness, all by Himself? To just like to sit with Holy Spirit in quiet and solitude, to talk to Him while I’m driving simply because I like His company? To talk to God without requesting anything? To just be fond of Him? Regardless of any benefit I receive for knowing Him, despite heaven and salvation and grace and heavenly treasures? Besides the peace He offers in crisis and the refuge He provides from calamity and the forgiveness He extends in the battle with sin? It bothers me that it feels like loving God is just another way of loving myself.
Perhaps it’s why God commands us to love others as ourselves, because we aren’t bad at loving ourselves. But it’s also why He says that we best demonstrate the Gospel when we love people who do nothing for us in return. Because it goes against the grain… loving those who don’t love us doesn’t come easily or feel good. But this is how He loves us. There was nothing we could offer Him as enemies of the cross. And yet He chose us and drew us and loved us despite all of our ugly and rebellion and entitlement. We love for what we can get, but He loves for what He can give.
And so I’ve decided that when my husband does things that I don’t particularly like, I can thank God for giving me an opportunity to love like He does. I can push through the negative feelings that I get when my child resists obedience and love her in the middle of her sin and mess. When God doesn’t operate on my timing or answer my prayer exactly as I wanted, I can choose the sacrifice of joy because I like Him for Him and not for the things He gives.
A sweet friend from North Carolina contacted me a couple weeks ago and asked if we could get together while she was in town. I was quickly reminded of all the reasons I liked her. She wore a long tunic with leggings, her hair up in a neat bun, with a stunning pair of earrings and minimal makeup that allowed her smile to shine. She gifted me with some outfits for my littlest, for the future, and I reminded her of her gifts for my firstborn and how I couldn’t bear to part with them since I thought of her when I used them. She asked thoughtful questions ranging from our house construction to my labor and delivery to church to how I was finding joy in this season.
But if you asked me why I like her, I wouldn’t tell you I like her for her burp cloth gifts or her top knot. I would tell you I like her because of her gentle presence, her calm, her quiet wisdom, how she points me to Jesus, the way she relates to me and the gift of listening she has… all of these are things that draw me to her. I liked her outfit because it showcased her simple, unassuming style. And I liked her not for her gift, but because it demonstrated her generosity and kindness. I liked our conversation not just because she let me talk about myself, but because it reflected her investment in my life and her desire to connect with people in different seasons of life than herself. I like her because being with her makes me want to be a better person, makes me want to be like her when I grow up. It seems I can’t separate liking her for her and liking her for the things I get from the relationship. The things I enjoy from her are simply perks flowing out of her very soul, and I love her soul.
So perhaps I can’t separate the two. Perhaps it’s impossible to tell where loving God for God and loving Him for what He does for me ends.
But because it is an easy temptation to love for what I can get, or to only love when things are going well, or to only invest when we see a return on that investment, I make it my aim to invest in my relationship with Jesus daily, regardless of how I feel or what is currently going my way. It’s why I keep tapping into Scripture, keep walking beside Him, keep spending time with Him, keep flowing the conversation flowing between me and Him. It’s why I keep discovering new ways to love Him for HIM. The more I know Him, the more I want to know Him, and the more I love Him. Just for Who He is.
He is altogether lovely. Jesus, it’s You I like.