I read Nichole Nordeman’s book, Love Story, a couple of times this year. To say that it’s fantastic is maybe the understatement of the century. Go buy it. Come get it. I’ve got like four of them. It was one of those that I read all too quickly and couldn’t help but go back to. There is one particular part, though, that stuck out among the rest. One specific line that planted itself deep within my heart, waiting for me to watch it bloom into the reality of my life. “He is in love with potential.” He, capital H (in case you were wondering). God is in love with potential.
Yeah, that’s it. It seems really simple, doesn’t it? In fact, I was astounded that those six words were the ones that wouldn’t leave me. There are so many other relevant, deep, mind-blowing sentences, analogies, and truths in that book, but that was the one that I found myself constantly thinking about. It might have something to do with the fact that the word “potential” was and is used in my home more than probably any other words except for maybe “I love you.” I’ve written about my beautiful, wonderful, talented mother several times, and as I’ve mentioned before, the way that she loved/loves me (and everyone else for that matter) is what led me to belief in God and His love for me. So naturally, my mother’s obsession with potential should have been revealed as God’s likeness a while ago, but I didn’t make the connection until I read this book. And even with that mental recognition and understanding, it wasn’t until this week that I gained an emotional understanding of what God’s love for potential means in my life. Cue the drill sounds and heavy machinery.
I didn’t take this picture, but we’re gonna pretend that I did.
I was racing across campus (which is downtown Atlanta) for no reason at all, as usual, on my way to an advisement appointment that I had more than enough time to get to. I’ve got my headphones in– Ohh! I’ve been waiting to use this for a while. Let me go ahead and say it: Headphones! Helping you ignore the homeless since 1979. Get it? Like, that’s when the Sony Walkman came out. Get it? Okay, so anyway, I’ve got my headphones in, listening to my jams (which consist mainly of the most random combination of All Sons and Daughters and Lana Del Rey on repeat). All of a sudden, I look up into the sky and I’m absolutely blown away by the beauty of the city. I have these moments about once a month. I feel so small under all of the skyscrapers, I breathe in deep and choke on cigarette smoke, I look around and hope that I remember to be kind to the homeless people who will inevitably talk to me, and I feel an indescribable joy. The kind of joy that comes from a feeling of belonging. I am drawn to the city.
And then all of the construction sites make their way into my view of this beautiful, wonderful city, and I just don’t feel so excited about it anymore. It is flawed. And the construction is really inconvenient. And loud. And it makes things a lot less pretty and picturesque. And it seems like it’s constantly happening.
That’s the difference between me and God.
You see, I think God looks at us a lot like I look at the city on those good days. Amazed and drawn to our beauty that is a reflection of His. But where I see loud, inconvenient construction, He sees potential. And He loves it. He sees growth. He sees opportunity. He sees us becoming more and more of what we were meant to be. He’s constructing new paths. He’s repairing old wounds. He’s making things new.
I’m often so insecure about the construction that’s taking place in my life. It’s like God is seriously always on the job in my heart. I sometimes want to warn people when they meet me. “Hi, welcome to my life. It’s one hell of a wreck. I have completely fallen apart. It actually might not be safe to stand so close to me. Expect detours. And traffic. Lots of it.” Some days it’s more like, “Hello, everyone. The Boss Man is working on building a filter somewhere between my mind and my mouth, so please disregard the stutters and incomplete sentences. I haven’t quite gotten used to it.”
But just as my mother never stops finding the potential in her students, and the city of Atlanta apparently never stops growing, God never stops finding areas of our lives to breathe life into. Because He is life.
And it’s more than okay with Him that He’s got work to do. It’s more than okay that He puts on a hard hat and starts rebuilding my self-confidence after I’ve allowed someone to bulldoze over it. In the meantime, He might also put some “DO NOT CROSS” tape across the road that leads to my love life, and that’s okay, too. He’s happy to lay the path of my dreams. He’s not afraid to dig a giant hole in order to help me find the faith that I momentarily displace. He’s not deterred by the yellow tape or the heavy machinery or the giant dirt piles. He’s much more accurate than Siri when it comes to directing my detours due to all of this construction. He doesn’t stop thinking I’m beautiful because of it all. He’s thrilled by the potential to shape and grow me into a person that I will think is beautiful, too. When I look around the city and see construction, He sees something altogether different.