The Key to Fulfilling God’s Promise
I recently wrote about my goal of talking less and listening more, of focusing more on others. This, I concluded, meant altering my habit of speaking all of my thoughts aloud.
However, there’s often another, hidden cause for my overlong stories and dazzling displays of knowledge: the desire to get something. What?
Approval. Why? To assure that I won’t be rejected. I’m trying to prove that I’ve earned a place here, wherever “here” might be. In this job. In this relationship. Even this family.
At the risk of playing amateur psychologist, it didn’t help that my father used phrases like, “If you had half a brain you’d be dangerous!” As a kid, I thought, “It’s a good thing I don’t have half a brain!” Dad often threatened to give me “something to cry about” when I reacted in fear to one of his angry outbursts. Then he’d walk away in disgust and never mention it again. Leaving me to wonder whether this was it, the final, one-way ticket to rejectionland. His love felt conditional. It wasn’t, but he didn’t know how to communicate that.
It wasn’t punishment I feared. It was rejection.
So, tell me again, what are the conditions for unconditional love? Oh, yeah, there aren’t any. But I didn’t get that. And some part of my less-than-half-a-brain still doesn’t get it. So I sing for my supper. I tell a witty story or impress with my knowledge for the wrong reason—to get something, rather than give something. Acceptance. Love.
Two months ago, while praying about my longstanding promise from God, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15), I suddenly realized I’d missed the key to fulfilling that promise, the basis for my “quietness and confidence”: God’s unconditional love. I was standing under an oak tree at the moment, and happened to look down at this perfect little acorn. Then God’s spirit whispered to me, “That’s your promise, Mitch. Now plant it in your heart and let it grow. I suddenly thought of another favorite verse, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). As I type this, I’m fighting back tears, recalling that the Hebrew root word for oak, “el,” means “strong.” It’s from the same root as the word for God.
My strength is rooted in Him.
That acorn lives on my dresser now, as a reminder that I’ve finally planted God’s promise in my heart. And often when I speak, I tap my chest, reminding myself that “God lives here” and He will never leave me. So I’m free to speak less and say more. And if I do choose to tell a story or share a bit of knowledge it need only be because I have something to give–I no longer need to get anything.
I already have all I need.