Right before Phillip and I started dating, I wrote an article called “You Can’t Love Me For Me.”
In it, I made a huge point about the fact that even though our culture makes a huge deal about being loved for who we are, the best kind of love isn’t about who we are at all… it’s about Jesus.
And while the article garnered a lot of praise, I’m going to level with you: I had a huge crush on Phillip at the time. He was my editor, and the easiest way to get his attention was to write articles. I tweeted about love, he saw it, and he asked for a piece (I sent it not an hour later).
I wrote an article about how you can’t really love people for who they are… as a way of using an element of who I was (a writer) to get the attention of a really cute guy.
Christianese flirting can be so meta.
The Truth In The Words
Don’t get me wrong: I meant every single word I said in that article. I really do believe that one of the quickest ways to wind up disappointed in a relationship is to pin your hopes on the identity of another sinful person. If five years of marriage have taught me anything, it’s that Jesus is the glue — not “my curves and all my edges; all my perfect imperfections.”
But I’ve learned something else in those five years: who I am does matter.
It might seem like an obvious statement to some, but it wasn’t obvious to me then. It was easy for me to give a Sunday school answer about why a man ought to love me before I fell deeply in love with the man that I married.
The Truth Behind The Words
In that first year, I learned so much about myself.
Before I got married, I would not have described myself as an angry person.
Little did I know that living under the microscope of being a pastor’s kid had trained me to swallow back every ounce of anger I ever felt in the name of falling on the sword to keep the peace.
I didn’t know that I was extremely introverted.
Knowing how to smile and work a room was the result of years of having a really small circle of friends and sphere of influence and that once I was pushed into the big, wide, world, I’d be much more comfortable in a corner.
I didn’t know that I had a hard time trusting people.
Because so many people knew who my dad was, I grew up putting on a certain face for almost everyone outside of my family, because no one was safe.
The pastor’s kid baggage isn’t the only thing that defines me, but peeling back the PK layers helped me realize just how much I didn’t know about my personality.
The Truth In Being Known
One of my favorite Phillip stories is the time that he told me, “I can’t wait until you drop the perfect girlfriend act and I get to see who you really are.”
It wasn’t my favorite thing at the time. In fact, it led to one of many huge fights we had in our short dating period. But Phillip has always had a way of peeling back all the layers of ways I want to be seen — feel like I need to be seen — and tapping into what’s underneath.
Unmarried Jasmine was right: my husband loves me for who I am in Christ. But she couldn’t even imagine the way that my husband loves me in my unique brokenness and the way my Savior is uniquely using that brokenness — and the strength that comes with it — for his glory and his good.
That is hard for me to write. We live in a culture where personality is seen as the compass of our calling. I know all too well the fear of making an idol of self. But I worry, too, that the pendulum can swing so far in the opposite direction that we forget that God made us all uniquely for his purposes.
The Truth About Our Personalities
As I wrestle with the issue of personality, I keep coming back to the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all wrote down accounts of the life of Jesus.
They were all completely accurate — completely truthful — complete God-breathed.
And yet all different. Each one yields a specific picture of our Savior, and, through all four, we get a well-rounded look at who Jesus is.
The Gospels aren’t about their authors — my life isn’t about me. They’re about Jesus. And yet, God chose myriad mouthpieces to make his name known on earth.
He chose different prophets — Micah’s zeal, Habbakuk’s humility, Hosea’s plight — to dig into different aspects of the exact same message.
He could’ve just used one prophet to tell us the entire story… but he didn’t. And he could have made everyone in the church to have the exact same role in the story… but he didn’t.
The Truth About Loving Others
You can’t solely love me for me. I will fail you. I fail my husband just about every day. But he has taught me that it’s possible to love things about me without negating the fact that those things are ultimately in the service of Jesus.
In all of the extremely helpful correctives about life not being all about you, and all of the cautions against navel-gazing, I also want to be a small voice saying that self-examination can lead us to love others well. It can help us see the roadblocks in our own lives, and be longsuffering with the roadblocks in others. It can help us celebrate God’s goodness in our lives, and it can help us encourage the way his goodness shows forth in the life of others.
And 2014 Jasmine didn’t know that as well as 2020 Jasmine will.
I know there is a lot going on in the world right now, but since I’ve been a little gunshy about stepping into the fray, I thought I’d share a little something I’m learning about loving others well.
(Maybe Phillip will read this and think I’m self-aware and take me out on a date. It’s worked before.)
I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…