Love Tanks With a Leak

I am again reading "When People Are Big and God Is Small" by Edward Welch. I am reading it for the third time. I knew I had read it once already, but when I looked back over my past blog posts, I was reminded that I had read it twice before loaning it to a friend (who also read it twice before returning it). I recommended this book to my Bible study group for our next read. So this will be the first time I will have the opportunity to read and discuss the book with others as opposed to reading through it on my own. I find myself really looking forward to hearing how this book speaks to my friends. Since I am the one who recommended it, I'm hoping they will get as much out of it as I have.

One of the reasons I got so much out of this book was that Welch, the author, did not write with the goal of enhancing the reader's self-esteem. His intention was to help the reader replace the fear of man (or people and people's opinions) with the fear of God. I love books that are God-centered instead of man-centered. I haven't always picked up on the difference in the past. But now that I have, I always find myself looking for books and authors that preach the gospel to me and focus me on how I can glorify God (focusing less on me).

I read the first two chapters again yesterday and plan to read them once more before our first session on September 29. As I read, I thought about how timely this book is for me right now (once again). I need these reminders about the pitfalls of fearing people and the opinions of others. I seem to get that condition under control for periods of time, but then I notice myself losing a little ground and falling back into old patterns of thinking all over again.

Chapter One is entitled: Love Tanks With a Leak. That's a pretty good description of me.

I fear not being loved. This is one of my "fear of man" issues. I want everyone to like me (to love me is even better) and think I'm a good person. Talk about an unattainable goal. Even Jesus, the only perfect person the world has ever known, did not accomplish this. Chapter One addresses the different ways we fear people and people's opinions. Chapter Two address how and why we fear people. According to Scripture:

1. We fear people because they can expose and humiliate us.
2. We fear people because they can reject, ridicule, or despise us.
3. We fear people because they can attack, oppress, or threaten us.

Number Two is my biggest motivator for fearing people.

In Chapter Two, Welch talks about how we enjoy certain television shows and magazines because ...
"They let us see the disgrace of others, and that normalizes our own."

When I read this I couldn't help but think about my love of biographies. Some people read for entertainment and escape. I read to learn and relate. Therefore, I do not have much interest in fiction. Instead, I love to read about the lives of real people. And I realize that one of the reasons I love reading biographies about all sorts of different people (from Benjamin Franklin to Eric Clapton) is that no matter what they have accomplished in life, there is one common thread in every human being's story. We all have relationship problems.

Nobody is loved, valued, or respected by everyone. Not Benjamin Franklin. Not Abraham Lincoln.
Not even Jesus!

I have had a couple of opportunities recently to gain insight into past interactions with others. And this insight has come through more than one source. I have felt myself at times sinking back into the quicksand of needing someone's love and approval. And I don't want to let myself go there. I want to go the last mile in righting any wrongs. But I don't want to be motivated by the fear of rejection, the fear of not being loved.

Yes, it's definitely a good time for me to read this book again. I need to be reminded not to look for my acceptance and affirmation in other people. I am loved and accepted by Jesus Christ. There is nothing to fear.