Just this week, Andy bought Donald Miller's newest book, Scary Close. And since he so wisely purchased the Kindle edition, I've been reading along as well.
Scary Close is the story of Miller's grappling with his false self, his well-developed mask, in hopes of allowing his true, vulnerable self be known in intimate relationships.
Miller talks about developing his sense of humor, his writing ability, and his intelligence as acceptable parts of himself to cover the shame he felt, deep inside, from early childhood.
"Today, when people ask why I became a writer I try to answer honestly. I'm a writer because, at an early age, I became convinced it was the one thing I could do to earn people's respect. It's true in the process I learned to love words and ideas and these days I actually like to get lost in the writing process. But the early fuel, the early motivation, was all about becoming a person worth loving." Donald Miller, Scary Close
That struck a real chord with me, because I think that's why I became a missionary.
I wanted to be a person worth loving, and this was the one thing I knew for sure I could do to earn respect.
I thought it was God's Call and God's Will. I had this need for "something" and when I said, at age 13, "I'm committed to being a missionary," then I "had a peace about it" so I thought it must be God's Will.
Really, I had The Big Thirst. And I thought I'd found the way to quench it.
Don't we all know what The Big Thirst feels like inside us?
The deep need for approval and appreciation, applause and attention.
The drive to try hard with performance and perfectionism and people-pleasing.
The burn to walk into a room and have everybody say, "I admire you so much."
Or just, please God, to not feel so full of shame every single minute of life.
So I followed The Big Thirst for a long time, and people applauded and approved, until it just about killed me, and I finally saw it for what it was: a chasing after the wind.
What I want now is a real quenching for The Big Thirst, not just an admirable stop-gap that makes me feel good for a while.
What I want now is life and freedom, and a deep, lasting peace that doesn't need noise and drama and outside intervention to exist.
What I want now is the river of living water, flowing out of my innermost being, like Jesus promised the woman at the well, and like he told the people on the great day of the feast.
Jesus replied, "Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life." John 4:13-14
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" John 7:37-38
And this is what Jesus is doing on the Cross: being poured out into into our lives, to create that river, the blood of Christ, shed for us.