June 13, 2021

The Way I Am

As I write this, I’m celebrating my fortieth wedding anniversary. Forty years! In some ways, it seems much shorter. In other ways? Well, 40 years is a long time.

I was looking through our old wedding pictures when I suddenly thought, I’m not the same person my wife married. The young man in the photographs is far different from the old guy gazing back at me from my bathroom mirror. Just whom did my wife marry?

God Is Like My Wife

In my wife’s world, the real me has been emerging for 40 years and counting. Sometimes I’m proud of what I’m becoming. Other times? Not so much. But that wonderful wife of mine sticks around. She loves me for who I am today as well as the guy I was many moons ago.

I’m the man who dragged her from Tennessee to North Dakota right after our honeymoon to start a new job that vanished the moment we got there. I’m the man who got sick and had to depend on the kindness of her relatives to feed and shelter us for the first two months of our marriage. I’m the man with big dreams and limited resources. I'm the one who said “for better or for worse” and then started right out testing the “worse” part of that promise.

But she stuck with me.

Today we can look back with fondness at some of the “better” parts. We can trace the hand of God in our lives—sensing where He stepped in to make some minor or major adjustments to our journey together.

Seems that God is like my wife. He loves me in the “before” times and in the “after” times. He loves me just as I was, and as I am.

A Hard Sell

I’ve discovered that this truth can be a hard sell for many.

A short poem I wrote for a Christian children’s magazine accompanies one of my photographs of a frog sitting in pond water. He looks very content, watching the day go by. The poem is called “The Way I Am” and it goes like this:

I hop all day and croak all night,

I’m happy in my pond.

The Lord made me the way I am,

I’m right where I belong.

Some people say, “You’re just a frog,

You look and sound so strange!”

But I don’t care ’cause God loves me,

And there’s no need to change.

It was that last line that caused some on my social media page where I posted the poem to push back. “No need to change?” they gasped. “Isn’t God all about changing us?”

Well, not frogs to princesses. The poem is about God’s heart and how He loves us the way we are, where we are, and what we are at any given moment in our lives.

He loves me just as I was, and as I am.

He loves the drunk in the gutter completely, the prostitute on the street corner, the dishonest stockbroker driving his fancy car, the thief, the felon, and the murderer. They don’t need to change for God to love them. He already does. It’s happening. It’s a done deal.

But here’s the best part. When they realize that fact about God—when they fully appreciate what He has done for them—something amazing happens. They fall in love with Him. And when they do, they begin to change themselves, even if not on their own. They realize that they’re not alone in this world. They come to the startling awareness that they have powers they didn’t know they had—God-generated powers that can help them become a better person, a more honest individual, a kind and loving business partner, committed friend, and lifelong mate. They find that with God they have the personal courage to face the consequences of their past actions and make amends when possible.

It happened to the woman taken in adultery. It happened to the dishonest tax collector balancing on the branch of a Sycamore tree. It happened to the thief on the cross.

It also happened to many in a great crowd of sinners who’d gathered to hear Christ preach when the first word out of His mouth was “Blessed!” They suddenly realized they were loved—right then, right there, just the way they were.

So I want to thank my wife of 40 years for demonstrating God’s love to me. I also want to thank God for loving me just the way I am.

Charles Mills writes from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.