when it’s okay to be full of warm apathy

An old friend and I recently reconnected around grace and during our musings, she reminded me of an important grace symptom: refusing to care what people think of us. 

After our chat I couldn’t stop thinking about this post, written a long time ago during my new-to-grace days.   Thank you, my grace friend, for the reminder of this important truth and the chance to walk down memory lane for a few minutes.

 

My Dear Reader,
I don’t care what you think. But actually, I do. That’s why I agonize over my blog posts until I’m almost sick of looking at them. It’s why I’m insecure every morning and night thinking that I’ll never write anything worthy of you reading. Or if you do manage to be duped into reading it, you’ll put it aside in disgust with a shake of the head and a tsk, tsk, because it really was mindless drivel anyway.

I don’t care what you think. But, I do. It’s why I won’t step out of my house without wearing matching clothes.  Does it really matter if I wear my favorite blue and teal flowery pajama pants edged by frayed lace along with my faded gray-and-red football t-shirt to get the newspaper on Sunday morning?  Of course not! Odds are you won’t even see me. But I think you might, so I won’t dare.

I don’t care what you think. But I do when I’m at church and we stand for 40 minutes straight during the worship time, and I don’t feel like standing today because I’m tired and I’m discouraged and I just want to go home. I just don’t have the heart to sing, and I don’t feel like fighting the sloping concrete floor in my heels.  But I do care, so I stand up anyway and silently endure.

I don’t really care what you think, but I do when I hear about the people that you know and the places you’ve been and the honors you’ve received and the degrees you’ve earned. I am truly happy for you and slightly awed, but I’m compelled to answer you with some of my own horn tooting because something rises within me when people name drop and gush. I feel I have to prove that I’m worth something too. I’m a big girl with big goals and big pats on the back from big things I’ve done too. Do you believe me?

I don’t care what you think, but I do when I invite you over for dinner and long to tell you about my passion. To tell you that I love Jesus and His grace more than anything in the world. I really, truly do. I know what will happen to your face. It will crumple and you might even get shiny in the eyes from unshed tears and you’ll look on me with part wonder, part despising, and part longing.

And you’ll look at the house God’s given me, and you’ll be jealous. And I won’t blame you because I know you are looking for a house right now, but you can’t find one – or rather God hasn’t dropped it in your lap yet. So, you’re worried that you’ll have to “make do” or “settle” with one you secretly despise but aren’t allowed to tell the truth about because God gave it to you and you’re supposed to “be grateful in all things at all times.”

thank you letter

So, you’ll sit sweetly in my house, and eat yummy food, and admire my espresso maker and my tiny, adorable yellow spatula that’s perfect, single-brownie size, and you’ll try to keep your kids quiet every moment so you won’t offend me. And I’ll long to tell you all that’s in my heart of God and His grace – how I like you and enjoy your kids, how I want more than anything for you to know the joy I’ve found and the rest, peace, and contentment I’ve discovered in Christ. And I know you want that too –you need it deep down in your hollow soul, but I won’t be able to tell you all of it because you’ll close up on me. The shutters will fall over your eyes, your face will shut down like a Chicago hot dog stand in sudden rain, and I will watch and be sad.

So, I will get up to serve dessert with my adorable tiny spatula and secretly wish you really loved me for me. I’ll be genuine – not artificial – but you won’t see much of “inside me” because I don’t really care what you think. But I do.

Can I tell you a secret? I don’t want to care what you think anymore. I crave freedom from the self-imposed shackle that keeps me running to you and begging for approval. I want to be done with the politics and hurt feelings and silliness of grown-up junior high drama. Because when it comes down to it, while I still sometimes fall back into this old performance-driven habit of caring what you think, I truly care more what God thinks now. I care who His grace says I am, and I want to focus on what He’s created me for – to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

So, is it okay if I tell you that I don’t really care what you think of me anymore? I beg you to say the same to me so we can walk carefree, getting to know each other without the baggage of wrongful caring, becoming better acquainted with the true, beautiful insides of God’s grace at work in each of us, helping each other most by caring what we think of each other less.  I shyly look forward to it.

Growing in grace,
Janna

P.S. Do you think it’s easy or hard to stop caring what people think?

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