A version of this appeared in The Anglican Digest in 2006. I'm posting it here since it seems to resonate with folk anytime I share it. And it fits a theme of the coming weekend.
"Tammy Metzger thinks you're cute" (and so does God)
I was a shy, scrawny farm boy. Shy and unsure of myself, I was the shrinking violet of wall flowers. When I was in the 9th grade, I rode a bus, along with other farm kids, to the small town of Claypool, IN. There, we were joined by the kids from the town. We were also joined by the kids from the neighboring community of Silver Lake. From there we were all bused to the high school in Warsaw, the county seat.
I knew all the kids from Claypool, having gone to grade school with them. But the kids from Silver Lake were new. One particular girl from Silver Lake caught my eye. Her name was Tammy Metzger. She was beautiful. She was mysterious, intimidating, and awe-inspiring – the way 9th grade girls are to 9th grade boys. She intimidated the living daylights out of me! I was dazzled by the splendor of her beauty. It never crossed my mind to even speak to her, let alone tell her that I thought she was beautiful.
One day, on the way from Claypool to Warsaw, word was passed from the back of the bus where the Silver Lake students sat to the front of the bus where I was sitting. The person behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Matt, Tammy Metzger thinks you’re cute.” Bells went off in my head. Unbelievable! Amazing! It changed me.
I was not quite the same boy when I got home that day as I had been when I set out. I was changed. Not a lot – at least, not right away. I was still too shy to ever say anything to Tammy. But, as Dante experienced with Beatrice, just knowing that someone as beautiful as Tammy Metzger had noticed me, began to change me. I did not suddenly become suave and confident, but there was the beginning of a real change in the way I thought about myself. If Tammy Metzger thought I was cute, maybe there was something I was missing. In fact, the very next day, as I was leaving school, another girl stopped me in the hall and said, “I hear that Tammy Metzger thinks you’re cute. I don’t know what she sees in you.” But, she wasn’t Tammy. The fact that Tammy Metzger thought I was cute meant that what anyone else thought was irrelevant.
Knowing that someone looks at us with a measure of delight changes us. This is true of those early experiences of attraction as well as deeper romantic relationships. It has been true of my relationship with my wife, Leslie. But it is also true of family relationships. And it is true of friendship. All relationships in which we know ourselves to be noticed, delighted in, enjoyed, cherished, loved, or even simply considered "cute" change and form us.
The same kind of change happens when we encounter the love of God. It was around this same time, perhaps not accidentally, that I began to experience God’s love as something that was real, vital, and directed toward me. In spite of my insecurities, in spite of my feelings, God loved me. Perhaps, God even thought I was cute. The knowledge that God delights in me and reaches out to share his life with me changed me. The world was shot through with meaning. My life and how I live it, the choices I make day to day, all began to matter infinitely because I mattered infinitely to God. I was dazzled by the splendor of God’s beauty. No matter how often and in how many ways the Adversary has said, “I don’t know what God sees in you;” knowing God’s love in Jesus Christ has made the words of the Naysayer irrelevant. I am loved.
The Church is kind of like the school bus. Each generation in the Church has passed on the knowledge that God has demonstrated his love for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; that he desires to draw us into his life and joy. God delights in each one of us. We, who are in the front of the bus now, have received this treasure. We are also called to pass it on. In our common life together, in church school, adult forum, youth group, Bible studies, at home and at work, we pass the word on to one another. Evangelism is just inviting others to get on the bus so they can hear this Good News. When we come to church, when we bring our families, when we invite others, we are passing it on.
The word has been passed up to you, "God thinks you're cute - God delights in you.” Pass it on.