I am one of those people who, 8 times out of 10–or maybe 9–when I feel crummy, I look crummy.
As a bonus, other times, when I don’t feel crummy, but just tired or preoccupied, I have the uncanny ability to look crummy then, too.
It wasn’t long into my relationship with Ben that he got to see one of my crummy days. I’m not very good at hiding things like that and, if I’d had to wait until we were married to show him what I look like on those kind of days, he would have had to propose to me, well, actually about two days after he met me.
Guatemala. 4 a.m.
The funny thing is, I hadn’t planned to take a shower. Walking around looking crummy stopped bothering me years ago. But I’d had my first “date” with Ben the night before at a restaurant with everyone else on the mission trip, and I was afraid of what he would think if he saw just how crummy I looked at 4 a.m. without a shower. So I did take a shower. I even put on minimal makeup. I was pretty proud of myself. 4 a.m. is pretty early to do this kind of thing.
I still remember the fateful moment when we all met up in the hotel lobby and I said something to Ben like, “Would you take a picture of me, even though I look sort of crummy?” (Yes, I was flirting pathetically, but that’s another story.)
and I quote,
WRONG ANSWER, Ben.
Because I’m me :), I did tell him that was the ‘wrong’ answer. I told him the socially apropos answer was to say, “Teej, you don’t look crummy! You look great!” That joke became the icebreaker in our relationship, and the beginning of a beautiful realization that Ben could see me–even when I didn’t look (let’s be honest) great–and love me anyway.
Back in the states, when we started long-distance dating (he in Pennsylvania and I in Missouri) I realized I had a big weight already lifted off my shoulders. Ben had already seen me on a mission trip. He already knew what at least somewhat crummy looked like. And he still wanted to date me. What a relief!
Over the next several months, I gave him ample opportunity to see what really crummy me looks like. He even got to see what my hair looks like after snowflakes fall on it. (Not like it does in the movie, girls, let me just tell you.) And it seems totally fitting that, just a couple weeks after our honeymoon, I caught the flu and he got to see an even worser, really very crummy version of me.
You know what? I am so relieved that Ben sees the crummy me and still loves me. If I had to hide when I was tired, sick, or just too preoccupied with writing to look beautiful, I’d be in real trouble. As he can tell you, I’d have to do a lot of hiding.
You know what? I am so relieved that God sees the crummy me, too. It’s the most terrifying thought in the world at first–but when I realized His grace for me, it became such a relief. No need to hide the pieces of me I’d never want Him to see–He already knows. No need to run for the hills anytime He comes near–He’s already seen. No need for vicious anxiety attacks in the turmoil of wondering if He loves me–He already does.
This is grace, and it is grace at it’s best: while we were still crummy, God loved us. And this isn’t the kind of crummy that comes from not showering or having the flu. This is the kind of crummy that’s the very filth of our souls–the very truths about ourselves that we know would drag us into the pit of Hell. It’s those things that God knew–and He loved us still.
If you have been hiding from God, the time to hide is over. If you have been running from God, the time to run is over. God already knows you. And, most importantly, He already loves you.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)
Thanks to Max Lucado and his story about Salty in He Chose the Nails. See it here.