'You always confused being admired with being loved'
Even though everything in my brain tried to prevent it from processing, the words would not escape me. It’s amazing how one’s life can be deconstructed in a matter of seconds. The realisation that love does not mask itself as admiration. Yet so often I associate my achievements and the things I'm good at with feeling loved by the people around me.
The line is from Birdman, which I watched recently and has since won the Oscar for Best Picture. Riggan Thompson, played by Michael Keaton, is an ageing actor who had enjoyed previous success playing the starring role in a superhero franchise called Birdman. Wanting to reclaim his fame and past glories, Riggan stars in his own Broadway show. The show is stricken with problems, most of which seem to be during his attempts to relate with the people around him. It's during one particularly poignant moment of the film that his ex-wife appears and says to Riggan: “You always confused being admired with being loved”.
It’s easy to do, confuse admiration and love. Sadly, the world we live in promotes the idea. The idea that our achievements correlate with love.
For Riggan, the euphoria of previous success had left him depressed and unstable once they had been taken away. Believing that 'the better we do the more people will love us', will only set us up for failure.
God has chosen us before the foundation of the world to be His. He has loved us before we even uttered a word. Nothing can separate those that follow Jesus from the love that He has for us. God does not love us according to how successful or talented we are. Or even because of how much we do for Him. In fact in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 it says:
'But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'
God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. I must recognise that I need God’s mercy and grace daily. As easy as it is to think that you can run this race on your own, surrendering to His authority is the best decision you could ever make. It's not about trying to impress God with everything I'm doing, but rather coming with nothing, and knowing that He accepts me and loves me anyway.
James Lee is Head of Communications at Something More. He is also a teacher and lives in Bristol with his wife where he has discovered a new found love for power drills.