I love roller coasters. I love going fast, flying down a track, twisting, turning and going upside down. I love feeling my stomach drop as g-forces pull my body in all sorts of unnatural directions.
As much as I love feeling my stomach drop on a roller coaster, I hate it just as much when I’m checking my email.
I hate feeling my stomach fall into a bottomless pit while checking my email. Most of the time my inbox is full of junk mail, Amazon ads and emails about scheduling meetings. Every so often, though, there’s an email that gives me pause simply because of its subject line.
These aren’t angry emails from people who want the worst for me. Very often they’re from people who want what’s best for me and are simply seeking some clarity. I know that in my mind but my stomach is a little behind.
My stomach feels like those emails are questioning my value as a person.
My stomach feels like those emails are setting up expectations that I could never possibly meet.
My stomach feels like those emails are labeling me as a bad pastor.
That’s a lot of power to give to a small piece of electronic mail, especially when they come from people don’t intend anything of the sort. Most people who send me an email seeking clarification or to share their concerns do so from a place of love and compassion. It’s my own brokenness and insecurities that transform that love and compassion into anger and expectations.
Earlier this week my stomach had been doing a little dancing because of a few emails I had received. Again, none of them were mean and attacking but my stomach responded to them as if they were. Fortunately, though, my stomach was able to calm down enough for me to hear God’s loving and encouraging voice.
During a time of silent prayer I was reminded of God’s simple words at Jesus’s baptism: “You are my son whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” These words have meant a lot to me over the past 18 months.
They have been a constant reminder that God loves me just as I am.
They have been a constant reminder that God is pleased with me even if I don’t feel like I’m living up to the expectations of others.
They have been a constant reminder that my stomach is often a liar and I need to trust in the truth of God’s word.
God looks at each us as and says, “You are my son whom I love,” or “you are my daughter whom I love.” The God of the universe, who is too great for us to even comprehend, loves us. Not only does he love us but he also wants to be a part of our lives. He wants to be the loudest voice of love and encouragement, which drowns out all of the other voices that lie to us, including our own stomachs.
Sometimes God’s voice of love encourages us to change, resist temptation or leave something behind. But even when he speaks to us like that, he does so from a place of love and wanting what’s best for us. So even when we doubt the goodness of that voice and the truth of its proclamation of love, we need to trust in God. We need to trust that we are his children whom he loves, even when our stomachs are in our feet.
What helps you to trust in God’s love?