I have a golden retriever complex (this is not an actual diagnosis by the way. I made it up after noting the remarkable similarities between myself and Dug from “Up”. Hi there!). It basically means that I have an innate desire to make other people happy, and when someone raises their voice at me or scolds me, I get a feeling of I have displeased a person, I’m a bad dog, and I have to go hide until I feel like that person is not longer upset with me and maybe would throw the tennis ball for me again.
I was having my devotional time before I left for work after a particularly rough shift the day before, and I prayed something to the equivalent of “let me make everyone happy today”. Then I had one of those nice little Jesus moments, you know, the ones where it feels like you’ve been smacked upside the head? Nice, warm fuzzy devotional times are the best. Anyhow, the question that popped up in my head was “Are you more frightened of displeasing others or displeasing God?”. Ouch. I realized I was so focused on making other people happy, that I was neglecting the Only person I truly need to seek to please (It’s Jesus. Also, this is what we nurses call having a lack of self-care. As in, I’m so worried about others I forget to take care of myself until I end up in bed for a week with a nasty cold because I forgot to do things like sleep. Not that that’s ever happened before) But then this got me thinking. What does it even mean to “please” God? Is he ever truly “displeased” with my actions? I wondered if there was a set of behaviors I needed to follow to make God happy, you know, read my Bible more, stop swearing when I see my exam grades on eclass, quit my habit of making everything into a vaguely inappropriate joke… but then I recognized making a list of do’s and dont’s was getting quite close to the good old “Good Girl Theology”, where I reduced my relationship with the Almighty into a set of action-reaction pathways that win me brownie points and gold stars if I do the right thing. It doesn’t work that way, you see. Because I believe in a God who is not controlled by my actions. He’s not a lab rat I can train into running the right pathway to get a cube of cheese. And I am not a dog he disciplines for eating socks (by the way, my dog Lenny LOVES eating socks. He’s like Fat Louis from The Princess Diaries– the book series, not the movie. Although the movie is great too). I am his peculiar treasure child redeemed by the blood of his Son.
God calls Israel his “peculiar treasure”. The NIV and ESV translate this Hebrew word cĕgullah (Strong’s H5459– I would put the actual Hebrew spelling but my computer is being ridiculous) “treasured possession”, but there is just something so beautiful to me in the wording “peculiar treasure”, because I relate to peculiarity. It’s my identity, being a peculiar treasure. I have perpetually slightly messy hair and slightly messy theology. I laugh a little too loud, usually at inappropriate times, and I’m really nerdy. Like Superwhoflylock nerdy. You see? Peculiar treasure. And being treasured by God is a profound thing to think about. What do you do when you treasure someone? You adore them. You are protective of them. You love them in a very special way. God’s also described as being “jealous” for us. As in, he wants the best for us (himself), and gets upset when we leave him for our little demi-gods because he is the better thing. Now, we could get in a whole discussion here about the dangers of taking our theology of God from the Old Testament, but I am a little old Jewish woman at heart (call me Yenta), and I love me some Old Testament. Also, when we read Christologically, we find the redeeming nature of God at work in every text.
Theological rants aside, my demi-god has been my pleasure-seeking ways. Not in that I want happiness for myself, I want it for others, and I feel responsible for making that happen. That’s neither a healthy nor a holy behavior. So I’m aiming to abide in Him. Abide in my belovedness and peculiar-ness and accept his loving-kindness. Because my worth is not dependent on my actions, or whether or not I was able to make people happy today. This is a tough concept to master, because grace is an unruly thing. It’s not fair. Sometimes I feel unworthy of His lavish love, but then I remember He alone determines my worthiness. And that was determined at the cross. Amen? Amen.
Thanks for delving in a little deeper to Good Girl Theology with me! As always, comment below, or talk to me in real life about what you think about this whole Good Girl thing.
Here’s a clip from my new favorite show further explain my nerdiness. And why I exclaim “curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal” when I see toy dinosaurs.