In the Knowing and the Naming

“Behold the one beholding you and smiling.”  It is precisely because we have such an overactive disapproval gland ourselves that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment.

. . . More than anything else, the truth of God seems to be about a joy that is a foreigner to disappointment and disapproval. This joy just doesn’t know what we’re talking about when we focus on the restriction of not measuring up.

. . . Belden Lane, the theologian, writes: “Divine love is incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty and all embarrassment into laughter.”

. . . The only thing we know about Jesus “growing up” is that he “grew in age, wisdom and favour with God.”  But do we really grow in favour with God? Did Jesus become increasingly more favourable to God, or did he just discover, over time, that he was wholly favourable?

. . . Lula was a skinny kid, who looked straight out of the Third World, undernourished, filthy. He was standing by himself, and no one seemed to include him or pay him much attention, except when they’d steal his eggs.

I remember this a week later, when I pull up to an intersection and see him entering the crosswalk alone, his walk clumsy and self-conscious.  I roll down my window and catch his attention, “Heh Lula.”

You would have thought I had electrocuted him. His whole body spasms with delight to be known, to be called, to hear his name uttered out loud. For his entire trip through the crosswalk, Lula kept turning back and looking at me, smiling.

. . . “I have called you by name. You are mine,” is how Isaiah gets God to articulate this truth. Who doesn’t want to be called by name, known? The “knowing” and the “naming” seem to get at what Anne Lamott calls our “inner sense of disfigurement.”

As misshapen as we feel ourselves to be, attention from another reminds us of our true shape in God.

Gregory Boyle in Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion