Raise your hand if Facebook has ever made you angry. Keep your hand up if you have ever suffered an inferiority complex from things you see or experience on Facebook. Lastly, keep your hand up if you have ever been tempted to close your Facebook account and never enter the site again. I am desperately hoping that I am not the only one whose hand is still up. Please allow me to elaborate on the situation that triggered the string of questions above. I was in a bit of a funk coming home from church yesterday because a couple things didn’t go as I had planned. I was starting to feel a bit, okay, very insecure about my value as a person so who did I turn to? You guessed it, everyone else but God. I immediately jumped on my computer and started begging for attention on Facebook. I may be the only one who has ever been at the place where the little number in that tiny red box at the top of the screen determines for me how valuable I am. I know, it is so dumb that it is embarrassing to admit, but all too often it is the case. If I get no notifications after posting several things, and, might I add, no notifications within the first 5 minutes, I suddenly conclude that no one cares about me. If I get 9 notifications when I log in for the fifth time in an hour, I feel really important and valued. So guess what happened yesterday? Yup, not even a tiny number 1 showed up in the corner of my screen. No notifications whatsoever.
This morning, in addition to the Facebook drama, some of my friends didn’t do what I wanted them to do. I even told them what I wanted, and they still didn’t do it. Now I was really feeling like no one cared about me at all. Then I felt the familiar tug. Like a parent who pulls a child aside for a little chat, I felt God drawing me to himself. However, I folded my arms and refused to go with him. Why? For the same reason I didn’t turn to him in the first place. I felt that he didn’t care about me either because he didn’t do what I expected him to do. Finally, the pain was so intense that I gave in to his gentle calls.
The first thing I did when I got on my knees was wail at him (he said I could). “I feel like you’re getting bored with me so you’re abandoning me but still expecting me to be unwavering in my faith. How can I trust someone who is so inconsistent?” After a bit of silence, God whispered, “Tell me what’s going on, Emely. Tell me the truth.”
“No one cares about me.”
“I want to be working (to have a job).”
“Much better. Keep going, what else?”
“I want people to love me.”
“I want them to do what I expect them to do.”
That’s when God lovingly pounced on me. “If you could control everyone around you to do what you wanted, you wouldn’t have a bunch of people who loved you, you would just have a bunch of puppets. Not to mention, you’d turn into a heartless, friendless person yourself.” This really surprised me, because I had always thought that the best way for people to show me they love me is to do exactly what I expect or want them to and the very moment I want them to do it. There have been some cases where those expectations have been met and I’ve felt all warm and fuzzy and said to myself, “Oh, this person loves me so much.” However, when those expectations are not met to the exact specifications, I suddenly think that same person who loved me a second ago now hates me and does not want anything to do with me. I have always thought that the cure for this roller coaster ride would be everyone just doing what they know I want them to do (of course they don’t always know, I just expect them to read my mind and figure it out). God continued, “I could make all of you do my bidding exactly the way I want you to and make all of you obey me perfectly all the time (I personally wish he would do that) but that wouldn’t make you love me. Just because you do what I wanted doesn’t mean you love me.” He then brought up an interesting scene from the movie Annie. The orphans were required to say, “We love you Ms. Hannigan” on command, but they obviously didn’t love her, they actually hated her. I was beginning to see how people doing what I want them to do doesn’t equal them loving me, but I had more to learn, so God continued. “You have heard it said that expectations destroy relationships, here’s why. When you have an expectation for someone which you expect them to meet and are demanding (whether verbally or in your heart) that they meet it in order to show they love you, your heart turns hard. Then when they don’t meet it, you become bitter and angry and as a result you come across as selfish and mean (which isn’t far from the truth). This makes people distance themselves from you which fuels your insecurity and your assumption that no one loves you. As a result of your insecurity, you start making more demands on people and the vicious cycle continues.”
I really never thought of it that way before, and now, repentant, I was ready for the cure to this vicious cycle, and God was ready with the only effective one. “The only way to stop this cycle is to look to me to fulfill your need for love. You will find that if you let me love you the way I love you and not the way you want me to love you, that my love far exceeds anything you could have wanted or expected. As my abundant love overflows in you, you will become more attractive to others and others will be free to truly love you without the strain of your expectations. It’s not that they don’t love you, you just can’t enjoy their love because of the expectations derived from an empty heart. Once your heart is filled with my love, you will be able to enjoy the love from others more fully because you now have no need for them to meet any expectations.”
So whenever I want to check my facebook for the red number, I know that if I look to Jesus, he will show me a number that exceeds the number of grains of sand. Then, after my initial, “Woa!” and squeal of delight in his many thoughts towards me, I can turn to the people around me and pour out a dim reflection of that extravagant love. When I am spending my energy on loving others instead of keeping score, I will be able to enjoy their love for me as well, and everyone wins!