Being intimidated by Jesus and Greatness

I don’t need to preface this article telling you I work and live to bring people to the heart of Jesus. My job is basically me telling the whole world about my best friend, how amazing He is, and that you should hang out with Him (or us) sometime. 

Over the years, I’ve seen how incredibly intimidating that is.  If anyone here has felt intimidated by my presence, or my work, I apologize. That’s not the intention I ever had because I too am intimidated by my friend who has changed my heart. I’ve known about Him since I was born, and I’ve gotten to know His personality better as I grew in age and wisdom, and let me tell you, every day I am still intimidated to approach such greatness. 

I mean how can you ponder the glory of a perfect man who does no evil, was recorded as the cure for someone’s blindness and death, and a man who gathers 100 friends for a journey and when the one friend wanders off and gets distracted He leaves the 99 to go back him and carries him back on His shoulders. This man whose time on Earth was spent for everyone and never asked for something in  return.  A man who, on the night before He was to die, threw a party for His friends, not the other way around. A man who was proud to be seen with anyone, regardless of their social status.  A man who flips tables of the tax-collecting corrupt government because they were collecting money wrongfully and He called them out on it (#savage).  A man who lights up the darkness of a strangers brokenness, courageously calling out something in their life saying, “yo, dude, that’s not right.” or for the women, a tender hug with a “you’re made for more.” 

A man who has done practically everything loving except this… forces anyone to love Him in return.  

I think some people have felt, still feel, the pressure to have to love God and religion, but that was never from God, it was other people or external sources. In other situations, maybe we confuse the pressure to “have” to do something with the deeper longing to want to do something. Trust me, if someone told me I have to do something, there’s a -4% chance I actually will. 

I think intimidation is an understatement at this point. 

Maybe Intimidation is high because for once in our lives there is nothing conditional about this relationship.  There’s no one counting our wrongs. We’re not being watched and seen as a burden.  We’re not rushed in our time spent with Him.  We don’t  have to wear masks or facades.  We’re don’t have to wait to be perfect to approach.  He doesn’t do anything with an aim to get something in return.

The man who would have rather died than stop loving this radically. 

Maybe intimidation is high because you don’t believe in the reality that you CAN adorn your life with beauty and virtue. Sometimes the life we imagine or dream about seems synonymous to a unicorn. 

Maybe intimidation is high because befriending such greatness would call you to step up a little.. Or have feelings of wanting to hide the person or people in your life you know is contributing to your downfall. (#toxic relationships)

Human beings are dependent creatures and we either cling and attach to the toxic things of this world, or we depend and attach to being fed by the beauty  and good and healthy of this world. 

Maybe intimidation is high because goodness can be found in the world without direct correlation to God. 

Maybe intimidation is high because something in you is triggered by truth. Maybe intimidation isn’t high and you just don’t like hearing the noisy nagging from people telling you to convert and be baptized or the commandments my Friend has encouraged for behavior. 

And, of course, intimidation is high because of how incredibly hard it is to unpack the injustice of this world, especially at your expense, when some spirit of the Earth is supposed to be perfect. How dare we possibly go down that rabbit hole to find answers or, worse, consolation. 

The hardest reality, maybe intimidation is high because we have convinced ourselves we don’t deserve to be loved so well, so we settle for the love we think we deserve. 

I say all that because that’s what continues to go through my head practically every time I sit down with my Friend.  Not all at once, but when life knocks me down, one of the following intimidation’s surround me like a group of gnats on a humid, sticky summer day (ew).  

Sometimes prayer is this:  “Hey, Jesus. So my friend said you’re wrong in commanding ‘that’ … what did you mean exactly?”  

Or

“Hey, Jesus, I don’t really feel like I agree with ‘that’.” 

His response, “Ok, let’s talk about it.” 

And sometimes that conversation lasts months at a time. 

The truth is, greatness IS intimidating because it changes your life, but it’s a lie to think it’s unattainable or you’re unworthy to participate in it. 

Sometimes the price of greatness requires responsibility. Greatness sometimes risks failure. Sometimes greatness shows you the smallness of others’ care or concern for your life or dreams. Greatness involves breakups. Greatness requires honesty of true passions. Greatness requires standing with people, not above them. Greatness involves loneliness, and lots of it. Greatness is a spiritual condition and requires surrender. Greatness means bringing something to the table every day to stay on the path. All realities we take one moment at a time. 

Greatness requires trusting in something greater than yourself. And that’s intimidating.


In the last couple months, multiple people have confessed to me that I have intimidated them in their life. I was like, “Wow, what a common theme just coming to me out of nowhere?” 

I will say it all made me laugh, only because I know my own insecurities and I guess they don’t see them as loud and clear as I do. I laugh also because of the ways they said it, in a “I love you” tone.

Although, the hardest part of hearing that, and on several different occasions, was not because I felt as if I made them feel that way, but for the truth that they didn’t find themselves as worthy, or chosen for greatness, too. That something in their own life spoke in the name of, unworthy

The biggest lie we could ever believe is that God is selective in who He chooses to love. That He is God and doesn’t have concern for us. That God only works for few, and not all. 

Jesus taught us to say the Our Father,

“… lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

By the very nature we are praying to not be led into the temptation, the lie, that God is not Good or Loving towards us. That’s our “daily bread” and the evil we need to be delivered out of more than anything else is the evil that convinces us Love is too intimidating to receive.  

Which is funny because it’s all we really want at the end of the day. 

It’s quite impossible for a Spirit of Love (Love: Total, Total: not holding anything back) to not lavish Love over the whole word. 

But it’s quite easy for us to live a life not receiving God’s “daily bread” of love (not a Panera baguette). It is as easy as it is to decline an offer of human love, a hug, a gift, to ignore someone’s words of affirmation, to not see someone’s goodness with a narrow minded mind, or, even so, to decline a marriage proposal.  It’s quite intimidating to be loved. 

And this will always be hard to address because faith in oneself is the biggest failed attempt in the history of humankind. Faith in one’s worthiness to receive greatness and grace is never just there, it has to be planted and then waters by rain that we don’t produce. We’ve expected love from others, been failed by it (knowingly or unknowingly), and never want to risk an avenue that could satisfy the desires we long for — for that’s way too intimidating. 

The day I befriended Jesus was the day I surrendered the reality that I was unlovable. The day I was tired of my philosophies and needed to adopt some other one. The day I was tired of putting my worth into others, likes on posts, my work, my body, and even my own efforts. Love is dependent on the Lover and if the Lover is myself, welp, no luck there. 

Love is dependent on perfection, right?  That’s why we feel unworthy to be loved because we know we’re not perfect. But perfectionism is something that will never exist within me or you and only exists entirely in who/what Jesus is.

The day I befriended Jesus was the day I asked for Him to Love me. Every day after that was the same petition. 

And we all know what happens when we encounter someone in our lives who loves us and finds us worth dying for…

Nothing is ever the same.

To live fully is to live fully aware that you are loved.

Of course people are intimidated by real love… when you wear this it’s not a feeling or comes easy. To accept that, from God, is the most badass thing you could ever do because of exactly how counter-cultural it is. It is when we know we are loved, protected, supported, and given everything under the sun, that we keep living for Greatness and ultimately, for God (the greatest greatness).

Published by

Shannon Donnelly

23. a lover. a practicing Catholic.. note: there’s a strong emphasis on “practicing”

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