"Whoever believed he made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves." - John 1:12
Psychology says the way we attach ourselves to our earliest caregivers sets the pattern for the rest of our lives.
If our parents were "good enough" we're seen, validated and emerge secure.
And if we aren't seen in infancy? We either wind up uncomfortable being close to others or we find that others won't get as close as we want. We're either avoidant or clingy.
But nobody gets out of childhood unscathed. Every parent fails to see perfectly. If you're a parent you fail. The phone rings. Your boss needs an email. You have to make dinner.
Or maybe you're alcoholic, depressed, grieving, obsessed with your job, selfish. Maybe you just love to read the sports page. Maybe your parents were imperfect and you learned from them. Regardless, none of us were seen perfectly, loved perfectly.
So we all long for affirmation. We ask "Am I worthwhile? Am I a valuable? Am I beloved?"
In 1985 when Sally Field won an Oscar for best actress she cried and crowed and said, "You like me! You really like me!" She's been mocked for it ever since. But she felt the world's love and it overwhelmed her. It was a moment of religious ecstasy, no less powerful for being generated by a false religion.
The good news is that you don't have to win an Oscar to be seen. God sees you. God accepts you. Indeed, no parent can love us perfectly. Only God can. So let's turn our longing toward the only One who can satisfy it.
Dear God, Let me believe it. You love me. You really love me. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.