Gabby’s long-time friend and former roommate, Jeanie, came for a visit this past weekend. She’s one of the most delightful human beings on the planet. Lights up a room. No. Scratch that. She sets rooms on fire. In fact, she’s so wonderful to be around that Gab and I invited her to come live with us. And we weren’t joking. Jeanie, if you’re reading this, come live with us.
Among the many things we love about Jeanie is her ability to tell stories. One night after the kids went to bed, she told a great one that I have to share.
* Pictured here: the oh-so-heavenly Cheez It
Our friend Robin was out one day with a few other people. One of her companions brought along her four-year-old daughter. While the adults were making idle chit-chat, the girl approached Robin and asked,
“Do you have Cheez-Its in your car?”
Robin thought it was an odd question, but that’s what you get with four-year-olds. She responded, “Sometimes, but not today.”
The girl gave Robin a bewildered, hurt look, started to cry, and then ran to her mommy who was standing several yards away.
Sheesh, that kid must really like Cheez-Its.
When Robin finally met up with the girl’s mom later, she apologized.
“Listen. I’m sorry I made your daughter so upset. She was asking if I had any Cheez-Its in my car, and I don’t have any snacks. But maybe I can find something close by around here.”
Laughing, the mother replied.
“Oh no, Robin. I need to apologize. She’s been on this kick lately. She didn’t ask ‘Do you have Cheez-Its in your car?’ she asked
‘Do you have Jesus in your heart?’”
Sometimes, but not today.
But it’s true, isn’t it? There are some days when Jesus has a shiny four bedroom penthouse in my left ventricle. Complete with granite countertops and a giant two person Jacuzzi tub. Perfect for spontaneous baptisms and working out sore muscles from long donkey rides.
I hear Jesus likes the bubbles.
Other days, I kick him to the curb like some bad subprime lender. I gave him my word that he’d have a place to live for life, but now I’m foreclosing on the Savior of the World because times are tough, and I think someone else could do a better job taking care of the property. Someone like me.
But what does it mean, anyway? To have Jesus in your heart.
My guess is that it means different things to different people. To some, it means that their every waking moment will be spent introducing everybody to their buddy, Jesus. To others, it means that every decision they make will be guided by Jesus. Still more would likely say that having Jesus in your heart means that you have a sense of peace knowing that you’re Heaven-bound.
For me, it’s a little bit of those, but something more.
If you’re like me, you spend a good part of your life earning your value. What do I mean by that?
If you have a job and a boss, this means that you try really hard to do your best. To get the project done on time. To do a good job. To meet expectations. Better yet, to exceed them. Knowing you’ve done good work is satisfying, right? It’s an added bonus when we get noticed by the right people so that we get the recognition we deserve. The promotion. The corner office. Heck, even a ‘thank you’ is really nice.
If you’re a parent, you try with all your might to be the best mom or dad you can be. To raise your kids to be productive citizens. To be present for them. To provide a good home filled with love. To make the mundane moments special. To create magical memories.
If you’re married, you want to be the best spouse you can be. Attentive. Caring. Considerate. You want to listen like you should. To be the rock that your spouse needs. To be the supporter when they’re down. The shoulder to cry on.
So here’s the sucky part.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t do all that. I hate to break it to you. You’re going to fail. It’s going to stress you out. You’re going to prepare like mad for that big presentation, and then rip your pants five minutes before showtime. You’re going to bite off more than you can chew, and it’s going to come back and bite you in the back side. You’re going to work your tail off on-the-job, and no one will notice. Worse yet, they’ll notice the wrong guy. Joe Schmo will take credit for your work and get the big promotion, and the corner office.
I hate that Joe Schmo.
Wanna’ hear something worse?
You’re going to fail your kids, too. You’re going to plan what you believe will be the most incredible birthday party in the world. Then the day of the party, your daughter tells you she wants a mermaid party theme, even though you’ve spent your entire paycheck on piggy stuff. Or worse yet, no one will show up. Then that carries over into adolescence when you tell her she can’t wear the low-cut jeans that show the waistband of her underwear and this causes her boyfriend to dump her for the girl who actually wears jeans with a hole in the keester. You’ll try and make it up to them by throwing them a beautiful outdoor wedding fifteen years later, but it’s gonna’ rain. Trust me. Cats and dogs. Ruin the whole thing. ‘Cuz you’re the one that suggested it. And they’ll talk about you. In therapy. That they pay for using the money you saved up for their college education.
And what about your spouse?
When they need you most, you’re going to be tired. Too tired to talk. Too tired to be supportive. And then you’ll say the wrong thing. Ladies, you’ll tell him he’s just not trying hard enough. Guys, you’ll tell her she’s worrying just like her crazy ol’ mother used to worry. And you’ll spend the night on the couch. And you’ll try and make it up to her by buying her a special dress, giving it to her as a surprise right before you take her out for a night on the town. The same night she had planned on seeing a movie with her best girlfriend she hasn’t seen in months. But she’ll go anyway, because she loves you, and then the night will be ruined because you didn’t realize that The Marble Room doesn’t take walk-ins, and is booked three months in advance. Golden Arches it is!
That’s what we do. We fail. It makes us feel worthless. It’s stressful. It sucks. It’s sad. Sad enough to make a little girl cry and run to her mom. It’s the way our world works. The first question out of our mouths at a dinner party is “what do you do for a living?” We’ve created this system where our worth is wrapped up in what we can accomplish. What we can buy. How many people we can make happy.
But guess what?
None of that matters. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The worry and the stress and the fretting and fussing. ‘Cuz the instant you were born, God decided to love you. It’s a given. No take-backsies. You will never be worth any more or any less than you are right now. You are fully and completely loved, and you didn’t have to do a darn thing to deserve it. Breathing is gravy. You don’t even have to do that! But God’s choice wasn’t a hard choice when you think about it. He created us in His image, so essentially He loves Himself.
Whaddaya’ know? God’s as narcissistic as the rest of us.
And that’s what it means to me to have Jesus in your heart. It’s carrying that love of God deep in your soul. Not love for others. Not love for yourself. That comes later. It’s carrying the knowledge that no matter what you do, how bad you screw up, or who you disappoint today, you’re loved. It’s realizing that you’ve been spending your time worried and worn out, searching for the acceptance you never lost in the first place.
And this is what frees us to do truly wonderful, glorious things. It’s amazing how much love can flow through you when you’re truly at peace. You’re able to truly open yourself up to others. To love as God loved.
So do I have Jesus in my heart?
Sometimes, but not every day.
It’s tough to remember I’m fully loved when the ads on TV and the junk between my ears tells me different. When the expectations I put on myself overshadow reality. I kick Jesus to the curb and there sits my heart.
So on those days when I forget, it’s nice to know there is now a tangible reminder. Thanks to a curious little girl and her misunderstood question. A lovely, carb-o-licious snack food filled with cheesy goodness. All I have to do is open the box, pop a cracker in my pie-hole, and I’m reminded.
So my prayer to you is that you will always remember that you’re loved, no matter the circumstances. And just in case you forget, and you’re left with that hunger that is hard to satisfy.
Always keep Cheez-Its in your car.