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  • L Trevarthen

The icing and the cake

Have you ever felt that to be loved you needed to change? That you weren't quite lovable, or the type of person that someone would be attracted to?

There are some simple ways we can make ourselves more attractive, like combing our hair, trying a more flattering hairstyle, new clothes, makeup or grooming. The icing on the cake, if you will.

There's nothing wrong in wanting to make ourselves look attractive, to be nice in our appearance whether for someone else or for ourselves. It is respectful even, because we show someone else that we cared enough about them to go to an effort to look nice, or to suit the occasion. It can also show a certain amount of confidence and self-respect. It can help you be accepted, to fit in with a group of people, and to be treated wtih respect.

But have you ever felt that underneath all that "icing on the cake", that the cake itself was not appealing? Maybe the cakemix was a bit dry, and you're a crumbling mess underneath all of that topping. Maybe the ingredients that went into the cake were a bit basic or coarse, and you hope that sweetness of the icing will distract notice away from the cake itself.

There are times when all of that outward appearance is covering up a deep seated insecurity, that maybe we are not good enough, that maybe we're not deserving of love and affection.

We might overcompensate in some areas of our life to cover up a fear that we aren't lovable, or even act in a way that gives an impression that we don't care. We might give a great impression of being someone who we are not, being funnier, more entertaining, bolder than our "real" selves, liking things that others like….trying to please others.

Valentine's day is a day when people all over the world are thinking about their loved one, or hoped-for loved one, and wrapping up relationships in romance, charm and warm-fuzzies. Yet still for some, those insecurities about being lovable are still being buried under the romance and tucked behind the live-for-the-moment experience of a sexual connection.

We have a deep seated need for love and acceptance. We are sometimes afraid that love won't last, or it won't accept us as we are, so we try to change ourselves or dress up our exterior. That doesn't always work, or resolve our feelings of inadequacy.

Physical love can be limited and temporary. We are told however that God loves us, no matter what. But how does that work? It seems a contradiction, because doesn't Christianity expect that we change too?

I like this quote from Tullian Tchividjian: "Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us." This type of change is not on the outside. It actually changes the real us, fixes the cakemix as it were, and doesn't dress up the outside without addressing the inside.

Thomas Merton said in 'No Man is an Island'

“But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God's love precisely because of his shortcomings, can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not in his own illusions about himself, but in the endless, unfailing mercy of God.”

Joseph Langford said:

"The same God who loves us as we are also loves us too much to leave us as we are. Perhaps because we tend to hold to ideas about God that reflect our own suppositions and fears, more than God's self-revelation. We reduce God to our own dimensions, ascribing to him our own reactions and responses, especially our own petty and conditional kind of love, and so end up believing in a God cast in our own image and likeness.

But the true God, the living God, is entirely "other":. Precisely from this radical otherness derives the inscrutable and transcendent nature of divine love-- for which our limited human love is but a distant metaphor. God's love is much more than our human love simply multiplied and expanded. God's love for us will ever be mystery; unfathomable, awesome, entirely beyond human expectation."

I think I'm ready for God's love. Are you?

Cake images from Flickr;

Vector elements from and "woman in curlers on phone" © Iakovenko123 |

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