“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
There’s a lady at my gym who hates me.
No, I’m serious. She sees me coming, and I can feel little poofs of disdain chugging out of her ears as her feet churn at 87 mph on the elliptical machine. I honestly don’t know how she goes so fast. I once tried to keep up with her.
It was awful.
And I think that was the day her infuriation with me began.
Let me back up and confess my sins that started this whole thing.
The elliptical machines are very close together and completely awkward with their angular moving parts. Think if a New York high-rise and an elephant had a baby … that would be these elliptical machines.
Now, conjure up a picture in your mind of the most athletic person you know. The one who doesn’t have a drop of fat on her entire body, not even at her belly button, which should be illegal in my cellulite-ridden opinion. OK, do you have your person?
That’s her. She’s honestly stunningly beautiful.
Then picture a marshmallow dressed in a T-shirt and spandex pants. Her ponytail is rather tight, but not much else is. That’s me. Hello, world.
So, I had to sort of get in her space just a tad to mount my machine, and I think I threw off her rhythm. That was sin number one.
Then I decided to try to stay in sync with her because I wanted to teach all the folks at the gym that, though my legs and derrière might not look like it, I’m in shape. That was sin number two.
And then there may have been a little issue with me taking a phone call while working out. In my defense this is not at all my common practice. But a friend called who really needed me.
I tried to chat quietly, but when you feel like a lung might very well pop out of your mouth at any minute, it’s difficult to whisper-talk. Sin number three.
Three strikes, and she deemed me out. Out of my mind. Out-of-line. Out-of-control.
She abandoned her elliptical and huffed over to the treadmill. And I think she’s hated me ever since. But then the other day, something occurred. Something odd that stunned me.
She smiled at me.
It wasn’t an evil, I’m-about-to-whip-your-tail-on-the-gym-floor kind of smile. It was more like an, “Oh hey, I’ve seen you here before, right?” kind of smile.
And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized her hating me has all been a perception thing on my part.
Which got me thinking about all the many times I assign thoughts to others that they never actually think. I hold them accountable to harsh judgments they never make. And I own a rejection from them they never gave me.
I know not every rejection is like this. Some are completely certified and undeniable.
But we have to know there are also perceived rejections, like I had with my fellow gym-goer.
I don’t even think I was really on her radar.
But in my mind, I was absolutely in her crosshairs. And so goes the crazy inside our heads sometimes.
Thankfully, the Lord reminds us in our key verse that He is able to “quiet” our crazy thoughts with His love.
It makes me remember something I saw an author friend of mine do several years ago when she was signing a book. Her approach was simple. Before signing her name she wrote, “Live loved.”
Not only an instruction, but a proclamation. One that arrests my soul and is so applicable to our discussion at hand.
Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love.
It’s not deciding in your mind, I deserve to be loved. Or manipulating your heart to feel loved.
It’s settling in your soul, I was created by a God who formed me because He so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.
This should be the genesis thought of every new day.
I am loved.
Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His affection on my wilted efforts.
No, God’s love isn’t based on me.
It’s simply placed on me.
And it’s the place from which I should live … loved.