I'm sitting at the bar that serves as my work desk, taking a moment to absent-mindedly trace the deep scars in the surface of the wood.
I'm replaying an imaginary conversation in which I respond to a customer's angry ranting online review. It's the same conversation I've been having in my mind and occasionally in my dreams for the past week.
My Trevor says I need to let it go.
I just can't seem to release this feeling of indignation, of offense, that the best I could do was still not enough for this customer. Instead, the restless feeling of unresolved conflict winds its way around my thoughts and my heart and my stomach and makes it hard to find the waters of peace. It dries me out- I'm parched and rough, inflexible and brittle. Exposed.
It's a symptom. I know that this fire-in-my-veins restlessness comes from somewhere deeper, somewhere where my identity lies.
And I've spent long enough tracing the dry, old, worn out cattle paths in my mind to know where this trail comes from.
I have an unquenchable thirst for approval.
Being liked, or needed, or valued by other people drives so many of my decisions, so many of my behaviors. I don't handle it well when they (whoever they are... it really doesn't matter) are unhappy with me.
In all honesty, encouragement comes often- my boss gives me praise, my husband looks at me in that way that tells he's proud of me, customers come back rosy cheeked and happy.
It's a soft, sweet rain to my heart.
But it doesn't last.
It only takes one comment, one criticism, to wring me dry, to drain my cup empty.
And so I seek it- all the time, I seek the little drops of approval, always asking for more. Thirsty. And I wonder if it will ever be enough.
Jesus met a woman at a well- a women who never expected him to speak to her (but you know Jesus and what he did to expectations).
She lived a life of seeking- more, more, more. Never enough. She didn't belong, she didn't fit in, she didn't have a goo He knew her story, he knew her thirst.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” - John 4:10
To this woman who'd known only want, who'd known only survival, it seemed unlikely. We don't know her name, but we know she was a practical sort.
How can water quench forever, and how could this man draw it without a bucket?
She was looking for a way to skip her daily trip to the well, to take care of her physical, one-dimensional needs. Practical.
And I can't help but wonder if following Jesus is most attractive to me when it brings me into the good graces of other people. If I follow more willingly when it's practical.
When Jesus makes me acceptable, approved, then following is simple. I get what I want out of my faith, and nothing more. If he can take care of my one-dimensional need for people to like me, then I'm all set.
But Jesus wants more- more for the woman at the well, and more for me.
We tend to settle for less, but Jesus offers more.
Christ came so that we would have life- not just a scratched out desperate survival, but true life in this world and eternal life in the one to come.
He came so the woman at the well would know true love- unconditional and beautiful and with no strings attached.
Christ came so I would always have the final, eternal approval of God- undeserved, unconditional, unearned.
What does it matter what people think of me when I am seated at the table of the Creator?
He offers the waters that will never run dry.
He is the only solution for whatever it is we thirst for. More life, more love, more time, more approval... in him we are never desperate, never parched and empty.
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