I Want You to Want Me to Go
And he said to me, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” Acts 22:21
I don’t love large social gatherings. I prefer small groups of people. If I were invited to a dinner party of 20 or 30 people, I’d rather not go. The weird thing is, I’d want to be invited and if I wasn’t, I’d feel left out. Even though I wouldn’t want to go, I’d want the option to decline and I’d want my friends to want me there. I desire the affirmation that I find in being desired – even if I don’t care to reciprocate.
It’s an immature, ugly sentiment and it seems to be similar to what happened in today’s passage. In the story, a Jewish mob attacked Paul for preaching the gospel. He was allowed to tell his story, and the crowd listened – until he got to the part where God commanded him to carry the gospel to the gentiles because the Jews had refused to believe in Christ. When Paul suggested that Jesus’ message was meant for non-Jews, they were enraged and wanted to kill Paul.
Of course, they’d already rejected Christ. But still, they were willing to listen to Paul’s story as long as they thought he was pursuing them. They didn’t want to follow Christ, but they wanted Paul to want them to follow Christ. When Paul said he’d given up on them and was going to the gentiles, they demanded his death.
We may not call for anyone’s head, but a lot of us can identify with this kind of immaturity. We may not desire a particular relationship, but we want the affirmation of being wanted. When we don’t get it, we’re offended. It’s ridiculous, but still we do it.
The underlying flaw is that we often crave the affirmation of others pursuing us. We base our worth on being wanted. When we perceive that we’re valued in other’s eyes, we feel great, even if we don’t value them back. When we’re not included or pursued, we perceive that we’re unwanted and we feel terrible. In doing this, we surrender our joy to something we have no control over.
True joy of course, cannot be found in a dinner party invitation or affirmation from anyone else. Daily, we must choose to find our joy, purpose, and meaning in the value we have in our relationship the Father, because that’s how he made us. That is where we find authentic life.