In the realm of human relationships, we place great emphasis on “making an impression”. We do this, I think, for two reasons: first, to attract the love and attention of another and, second, to fortify our own egos with the adulation connected with a “look at me” maneuver.
From the time we are the age of Tom Sawyer (or even younger) we tightrope fences to impress our Becky Thatchers. We clean our room without being asked, eat our vegetables and say our prayers to impress mom. We make the honor roll or dean’s list to make dad proud. We buy gorgeous flowers and rent the snazziest tux just to brighten the eyes of a certain someone, etc., etc. And so, it is quite natural that this carries over into the spiritual life. As those other little things we did in the past to impress others, so also with You, by doing certain things, we try to make an impression. But, I think, there are some serious flaws in this attitude.
I do not have to get Your attention - it is always there! I do not have to impress You because You already love me more than I could possibly understand. There must be a distinction between impressing You and actively (or passively) displaying my love for You. When I come to the full realization that I have no need to impress You but I do have a need to love You, I begin to see that these needs are in me, not in You. Furthermore, there are some major differences between needs and desires. Desires are connected with my compulsion to impress. I try to impress because I desire something and to get it I feel I must put myself in a favorable light. Needs, more often than not, go beyond what is in my power to obtain. I need Your love, but I don’t get it by impressing You. I don’t get it by doing anything at all except recognizing it and accepting it because it is always there. It is a gift. All I need to do is to remain open to it.
This whole notion of “just loving” is expressed well in the father’s eulogy after his son’s funeral near the end of the movie, A River Runs Through It - all we can do is love!