A friend of mine listened to a bit of my story on the Myths of Mammon podcast I did with Wayne Jacobsen. We were messaging each other about “impression management” and she brought up the same struggle I have.
How do I not try to make myself into a product, knowing that the very nature of the internet is that you have to make an instant impression or people will go elsewhere in a second?
I am certain we are not alone in this struggle. Here is my heart’s response.
There is a place of freedom and belonging in Jesus that is real and attainable this side of the curtain. I don’t know if I am quite living there yet. But I have certainly visited from time to time and have had wonderful moments while there.
The struggle with commodifying ourselves and managing impressions stem from not being in that place of freedom and belonging in Jesus. It’s our way of trying to get there apart from him and receiving or earning what he freely gives. I fight the same tendency on this blog. That is what this is about . . . Celebrity of the Clay Jar.
When we’re in a place of belonging it does not mean we are without temptation or even without failure. It means that we are, for the most part, living as whole people in authenticity as beloved children of our Father. We’re not having to trespass, to go where we are not invited or don’t belong. We’re not requiring the approval or affirmation of others to breathe freely and deeply. We are at rest; we are home.
The truth is God loves us, right where we are, in our sin, shame, and brokenness. He’s not waiting for us to clean ourselves up before he loves us. His love is moving us to a place of freedom and wholeness. We can cooperate with his actions on pathways that carry us into the open space with God. That is what some of the spiritual disciplines are about. But they are not the only way. The reality is, God brings us there. He is at work in us both to will and to do. (Phil 2:13) He who has begun a good work in us will complete it. (Phil 1:6) Our part is to respond. But sometimes the heart aches to get there faster! Like a little child, “are we there yet?”
Living in his love and presence is what we so desperately want from the deepest part of our beings. God wants it for us too. And he is bringing us there at a pace and in a way that won’t destroy our individuality and uniqueness. We must live in a patient trust. I love him for it! It allows me to grow and change! I am me, yet I am him! Christ in me, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27) I live, yet not I but Christ! (Gal 2:20) Praise him, forever! :::: sorry, got a little worked up in the spirit there ::::
The best description for me is the life of a Psalm 23 sheep.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The way to wholeness (life, salvation, rest) is a deep inner experience of Father’s love and affection for us. Its reality in our lives displaces all the junk. We don’t get there by reading a book, listening to a sermon, or performing some action. This kind of knowledge comes by revelation, and it’s the Father’s response to the cry of our heart, for ourselves or others. (Eph 1:17-21) (Eph 3:14-19)
“Father, what don’t I understand about your love that is causing me to . . .” That’s a question that Wayne encouraged me to ask several years ago. I still find myself asking it when I recognize that I am not living in the reality of God’s love and affection. I ask it when I realize I’m trespassing or trying to breathe oxygen in air that is dirty. And God continues to reveal himself bringing me to greater levels of freedom.
As we learn to live from this place of rest, in wholeness, in healing . . . we are living stones and a spiritual house and a holy priesthood (1 Pet 2:5) bringing a healing balm for the nations.
Do you struggle with impression management? Have you found a place of rest in God’s love where others’ opinions of you are inconsequential? Either way, share how you are living it out.