I was 15 when I decided I wanted to get to know Jesus. Up until that point I remember squirming through youth retreats and Bible studies and feeling a bit like a faker. Everyone else seemed to have this Jesus thing on lock, while I wondered if I was doing all the right things, and if any else could see me stifle my panicked face whenever we were asked to look up verses in Nehemiah (was that BEFORE or AFTER Psalms?)
In a particularly vulnerable moment I remember confessing to my Bible study leader that I wanted to want Jesus, but at the end of the day I found faith boring, confusing and completely out of reach (I remember she told me "The fact that you even want to want to is a good thing!" Which I think was meant to be an encouragement, but it felt like she had thumped me on the back and said "Nice job, sport! Try again next year!")
Spirituality felt unattainable and mysterious. Like being in hot yoga and slyly peering around to make sure you're doing the right thing, and wondering why everyone else looks relaxed while you feel like you want to vomit from contorting your body upside down in 100 percent humidity.
But as uncomfortable as I felt growing up surrounded by Christians who wanted me to "believe," that was never enough to really inspire me to make the leap. There was never a Christian who ever said the right thing at the right time, or a verse in the Bible that suddenly made it all clear. There wasn't an amount of peer pressure (or parents of friends who thought I was a little "too out there") that made me want to want Jesus.
What made me want Him was the fact that He never asked me to be anything but me.
I didn't know He wanted that because all the Christians in my life were telling me He wanted me to change. But when it came to it, when it came to me crying my eyes out every night before bed because my life felt hallow and weak, when it came to chasing down everything I wanted in life and always still coming up short, when it came to being rejected by Christians and non-Christians alike and feeling like my life had become one, big, ravenous hole of neediness, that's when I heard it. It wasn't an audible voice, but it might as well have been because of how clearly it came into my heart:
I want you.
He wanted me. Not different but like this. Not better, or worse, or less weak, or more intelligent, or even more Christian.
That's when I finally, for the first time in my life wanted to get to know Jesus, because He first wanted me.
It's funny how the Holy Spirit can do in a moment what a lifetime of awkward Bibles studies, cheesy Sunday school songs, and well-meaning pastors and camp counselors try to achieve.
This is just my story about my Jesus. Maybe you have a different story about who dried your weepy eyes and reminded you that your humanity was precious. But today, whether you believe in Jesus or not, I hope you know that you are wanted just the way you are.