That's Impressive

“I stopped trying to impress people a long time ago. I realized when I’m trying to impress someone, I’m not loving them well.” Alexandra Kuykendall writes that her pastor Steve said that. He said it, she wrote it, and I read it. I read it again. Then I read it again.

It’s ringing so true.

“When I’m trying to impress someone, I’m not loving them well.”

Why can’t I stop reading this? I’m not trying to impress anyone, am I?

Well. What about…

When I am expounding on my schedule, making extra sure that everyone knows I am super busy, and that my taking time out of said busy schedule to help, talk to, hang out or work with them? When my time becomes a gift I bestow “benevolently” (or begrudgingly) on those who are sweetly attempting to weave me into the fabric of their own significant lives? When I “graciously” agree to attend something, showing off the great inconvenience it was for me to do so? I am not loving my people well.

When I comply with the requests of those I love, but I complain about the amount of inconvenience the action affords me? I am not loving my people well.

When I feel the need to remind others of my own accomplishments as I scroll through the Facebook feeds of people in our community? (“I also had a headache today but notice my ability to endure it without posting. Watch as I inhale and exhale WITHOUT POSTING. It’s a MIRACLE!”) I am not loving my people well. (Especially as I, if anyone, tend to over-post…)

The more I think about it, the more obvious this issue becomes to me.

When impressing others is my aim, making them feel inferior is often my accomplishment. Have I ever felt truly loved by someone who made me feel inferior?

It becomes apparent to me that the minute I persist in elevating my own self through the act of impressing others, I separate myself from them by default.

(I interrupt our regularly scheduled program to inform you: They sell these planners at Michaels and they are the bomb. Just FYI. Okay. Carry on.) 

(I interrupt our regularly scheduled program to inform you: They sell these planners at Michaels and they are the bomb. Just FYI. Okay. Carry on.) 

Then I catch myself in the act. She shows me the text she sent our mutual friend. I recently sent the same friend the same sort of text. I received no reply. Following her stream of blue is a longish stream of white, signifying the extreme gratitude her timely words received, while mine were ignored. I want to point it out, how I too took time out to reach in vulnerability and to write a text which apparently was not appreciated. Take her moment (any of her moments) and make them about me? I’m not loving her well.

Sometimes I spell my name “M-a-r-t-y-r” but in quite a counter-productive way. You see, unlike someone who lays down their life for Christ and leaves it, I throw myself upon the altar while reminding everyone I know that I’m doing it.

“Hi! Hey guys! I’m here! Look! I HAVE THROWN MYSELF UPON THIS ALTAR! This has cost me quite a lot and is, I will have you know, taking up a great deal of my time. Aren’t I impressive?”

At the end of the day, at the end of my life, I don’t want people to say:

“Melinda was really busy.” Or “Melinda accomplished a lot.” Or “Melinda had a well put together Instagram which she scheduled with precision.” Or “Melinda was a better cook than I was.” Or “Whew. How sacrificial was that Melinda, am I right?”

I want them to say “Melinda always had time for me.” Or “Melinda made me feel special.” Or “Melinda sure loved her people, you could tell by her Instagram.” Or “I used to love sitting at the counter with Melinda while she made dinner.” Or “Melinda convinced me that I matter because she believed it with conviction.”

I don’t want them to say:

“I was a great inconvenience and I cost Melinda a lot of time and trouble and money but she graciously condescended to bless me anyway and I remember she made room for me in her life though she struggled through it with great pain and suffering.”

I want them to say:

“I know Melinda loved me. I never felt like an inconvenience to Melinda because I never was.”

My people? They are never an inconvenience. God forgive me for the times I’ve made them feel like they are, sacrificing the precious gift of their time and presence to the god of my own inflated sense of self-worth.

I don’t want my people to be impressed.

I want them to feel loved.

I want to love them well. 

Let’s all read it, just one more time:

“When I’m trying to impress someone, I’m not loving them well.”

“Who, (Jesus) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

And He didn't even complain about it. 

Now that's impressive.