Consider the differences between these two quotations: “Your immortal spirit is in every one of them” (Wis. 12:1) versus “God is watching us, from a distance” (Bette Midler, “From a Distance”). Recall that Jesus tells us, “I no longer call you slaves, I call you friends” (John 15:15).
Many a – shall we say – “contentious discussion” in my house ends with the words “I still like you”. That’s how we know the contentious part is over and we can begin mending fences. For us, that “I like you” is almost more important than “I love you”. We trust, without a doubt, each other’s love; however, whether we like each other in that moment may be an open question.
So when I read the Good News for Catholics Bible translation of Wisdom 11:24, which says, “If you had not liked it, you would not have made it in the first place”, the passage hit me like a ton of bricks. Other, more familiar translations read “you would not have made it if you had hated it” (NRSV). In my view, there is a big difference between these two translations. Without knowing the original language, I can’t say which is most accurate; regardless, reading this new translation has made quite a difference to me.
God likes us. Let that sink in a moment and consider the implications.
When you like someone, you want to be around them: go to the park, go to the movies together, and see the world through their eyes. God became human so He could hang out with us for 33 years, in person, living with and like us, experiencing His Creation the way we do, with us, and seeing the world through our eyes.
When you like someone, you spend time with them, make time for them, and treat them with the same respect you want for yourself. God is always there, waiting for us to come to Him, in prayer, in the Eucharist, in Adoration. He’s never late, preoccupied, or distracted. He never “ghosts” us. We may not be able to sense Him, but He is there.
He likes us, despite our faults and fragile nature, regardless of our foibles and failures.
Truthfully, though, it doesn’t always feel like God likes me. Sometimes, He feels like the God described in the Bette Midler song: remote, removed, and distant. He doesn’t necessarily give me what I want, or when I want it. Sometimes, He straight up says no, even though what I asked for is so important to me. At times, I become angry about being denied. So I try, and often fail, to remember that God is outside of His creation, Time, and sees the whole picture and what is in everyone’s ultimate best interest, individually and collectively (not unlike when my husband tells me “no” to something that will later cause me regret).
The bottom line is this: not only does God love us – sacrificially, sincerely, and dutifully, individually, and collectively – He likes us, each of us. He chose to have a fond, intimate, personal relationship with each of us. We matter to Him. He doesn’t need us; He wants us. Wanting, liking, being fond of, loving as a friend – these are verbs that indicate choice, not duties or requirements.
That’s why, this New Year, I’m hoping that when God hears me, He sees that I’m fond of Him. Through my words and actions, I hope that He hears “I like you” from me, too.
This post was written by contributor Delsonora.