God has been revealing something to me this past week.
There is absolutely no area of my life, even in my relationship with Him, where I rest in the love being offered.
Constantly, I am trying to earn love, keep love, and prove I’m lovable.
Because that was how I was raised.
My father was absent, which is a topic for another time, but my mother? Her love was very contingent upon what I did and how I felt. I had to earn it and keep it.
And, y’know, human love is fallible. People will do the best they can, and they will let us down, and sometimes the love they offer will keep us afloat, and then we’ll fail them, and we’ll need to ask for forgiveness, and it’s okay. That’s life. It’s messy and it’s beautiful and it’s worth it.
Human love? It’s a gift. Undoubtedly. It’s a reflection of Jesus here on earth. Jesus with skin on, to use a kind of disgusting but really appropriate description of godly love. And we NEED that. We need to be loved.
But love shouldn’t be something we strive for.
It has to be freely given.
How long have I spent viewing love as a game of tug-of-war? It’s exhausting, trying to maintain my hold on something I cannot control- pull the rope further and further towards me, terrified it will slip from my hands completely, desperate to find security in what I will never be able to find security in- human love.
But only God can love us in the way we long to be loved.
And His love is perfect. He isn’t my mom. And He’s not my father. And He never loves me more or less. And He’ll never walk out.
I need to unlearn my way of relating to Him (and others) as though love is fragile and dependent on what I achieve or say or do, how I look or feel, or whether I’m funny or sad or hopeful or messing up royally.
Oh, God. How I need a deeper revelation of how You love me. Help me be consumed by the beauty of who You are. Help me be captivated by the wonder of Your goodness and power.
Help me stop trying to earn Your love.
I spend a lot of time sitting in the shower, praying. It’s one of my favorite parts of my day. But every time my mind wanders, every time I stop focusing on His face and start worrying about the things in my life I have no control over, I begin a mildly abusive mental dialogue, criticizing myself for not loving the Lord “enough”.
And I think somewhere deep down, I feel like the Lord’s ability to love me is dependent on how well I’m loving Him.
Which is such a lie. Obviously.
And yet, when my mind wanders while I’m praying, or when I choose to watch TV over reading my Bible, or when I find myself making an idol of human love, I worry that He turns His back on me.
I know in my head that He doesn’t, but He’s revealed to me this past week that my heart still approaches Him with that underlying belief.
And if I don’t stop beating myself up when I feel like I’m not loving Him above all else, the joy I get from my relationship with Him will start to fade.
If I know my mind will wander when I pray, and if I know it will make me feel like I’m not enough for Him, and if I know that I will start to believe that my “not enough-ness” ensures that I will never know and love Him in the way that I’m desperate to, then I’ll stop seeking Him. Time with Him will stop feeling like a place of rest for my soul and start to feel like work. Boot camp. Training on how to be better. And disappointment when I, inevitably, don’t measure up.
If you know you’re going to fail every time you try, you just stop trying.
But even that–failure–is a lie.
Because we are human! And He knows that. He doesn’t expect perfection from us. He doesn’t even ask us to work towards perfection. He just asks us to love Him.
He’ll do the rest.
Being “better” isn’t something I have the power to be. It’s something only the Holy Spirit within me can achieve. But He can’t do that if I stop spending time with the Lord. My God, who created this heart of mine, and is intimately familiar with all that is within me, and isn’t baffled or angry with me for how I struggle. My God who loves me forever and always, independently of how I feel or what I want or all the ways I fail.
I have felt really off this week. Not depressed. Not even really sad. Just… subdued? Mellow? Contemplative? And teary. Desperate for the God who loves me so fiercely. I need to be washed, clothed, blanketed in that love. I feel broken and fragmented and I need Him to hold me together.
I’ve made so many mistakes. And I don’t know how to even process all of it. Everything that’s happened over the last few months… it feels unreal. And sometimes I just weep about it. I don’t even have words, just tears.
God’s spoken with me about my shame. We’ve worked on trauma. He’s forgiven me. And I repeatedly praise Him for the incredible work He’s doing in me and in my life.
And yet, all of it, the fact that it actually happened, the heaviness of it all, the darkness of that season, the fact that it’s only been three months… it just makes me weep. Not tears of despair, but tears that are a prayer for the things too deep for words.
Last night I asked Him to show me where He was on That Night. I told Him I needed to add His face–His holy, comforting, presence–to my mental image of That Night (and the surrounding events).
Instantly, I saw me laying on the couch, my head on His lap. And He was stroking the hair out of my face. And He wasn’t crying, He wasn’t angry, He was just looking at me with love.
Because He knew the road ahead was going to be harder than anything I’d ever done in my life. But He also knew it was going to be good. He knew I was going to be okay.
That was my rock bottom, and He knew it was coming, and He was there. Holding me.
And I trust He was holding everyone else as well. Cradling their hearts. Ministering to them. Speaking words of comfort. Validating what they were feeling- anger, fear, confusion, helplessness, whatever. And in doing that, in validating them and comforting them, He was essentially giving them the apology that I wasn’t yet able to give.
I hope they knew, somewhere within them, that I was so, so sorry.
In fact, the further I get from that place (thank you, Jesus!) the more repentant I become. The less it feels reasonable and logical and the more I cannot believe it actually happened, that I actually got to that place. Oh, if only I could undo it…
I feel like I could apologize forever.
I wish apologies could erase things and make them not have happened.
And yet, wishing that is a waste of energy and will just keep me stuck.
And besides, what need do I have for wishes when I have the guarantee that God will make something beautiful of this?
Only our God could take such a mess and use it for good.
Even though it wasn’t His will for me, He can transform it in such a way that my life is actually more beautiful because of it.
There is a definite Before and After surrounding That Night. But the After isn’t marred and scarred and doomed to be less good than it could’ve been had That Night never happened.
I am not living a lesser destiny because of it.
Lord, help me really believe that.
God knew I was going to fall. He knew I was going to hit rock bottom. And He knew it was going to hurt.
But maybe, because He is such a loving and good Father, He created the safest, softest landing for me possible. He surrounded me with love that would see me through, that wouldn’t walk out on me. And He held me. He caught me.
And so when I picture That Night now, when I think about everything that happened in the weeks before and after, I will add Him to the scene. Because in all of it, in the darkness and heaviness and despair, He is light and life and love. And where He is, everything is illuminated. Nothing is as heavy when I keep in mind that the battle is His and I am beloved and it’s not up to me.
I can’t undo it.
I can’t make it all feel okay.
But I am His.
I will speak that over myself. I am His. I am His. I am His.
I am held.
When I’m standing, He holds my hand. He hugs me. He looks at me with love.
And when I can’t stand? He holds my hand. He cradles my head. He looks at me with love.
It’s going to take time to work through all of it, I think. But that’s okay. I’m leaving it at the foot of the cross. I’m not going to keep holding on to it, turning it over in my hands, looking at it, feeling pale and shaky and regretful and ashamed. I am going to leave it in God’s holy hands and let Him do the work in me that He wants to do… in His perfect timing.
I am done trying to seek healing or wholeness.
At least, in my mind I’m done. My heart is still reluctant to let go of the tug-of-war rope. But we’re working on that- my heart, the Holy Spirit, and I.
All I want is Him. Because there’s no other answer for everything in me that isn’t okay.
And honestly? I sometimes feel like my prayer for more of Him never reaches Heaven, regardless of how many times I ask. I feel like… the drain is clogged.
But if I start to believe that’s true, I will stop asking. I will stop seeking. And then what will I have?
About a month ago, the right side of my kitchen sink was clogged. No matter how much water I ran, no matter how many times I tried to use a plunger on it, the sink wouldn’t drain. It just kept filling up with water. And I lost hope. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I stopped trying. I just stopped using that side of the sink.
I don’t want to that to become the way I view my prayer to know and love Him more.
Especially since scripture says if we seek Him, we won’t be disappointed (Jer. 29:13-14).
Aye. I don’t know, guys. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what His plan is or how He will answer my prayer. But I know He hears it.
And if I stop seeking Him, if I stop falling on my knees and petitioning and begging and crying and believing Him for more–not more things, but more of Him–where else can I find life? If I give up, if I stop seeking Him, where does that leave me? There is no life for me apart from that.
And so, regardless of what I feel or perceive, I will trust that the time I spend with Him accomplishes something. That it makes Him smile because He’s been waiting for me to realize that there’s nowhere else I can go to find what my heart longs for. Which, really, is the best thing that could’ve possibly come out of my Rock Bottom.
And He isn’t going to leave me in this place. This isn’t where my pursuit of Him ends- with this realization and aching and longing for more, without some way to dig deeper. He isn’t saying to me, “Okay, good. I’m glad you finally realize I’m everything you want and need,” and then walking away in ‘my work here is done’ fashion. That’s impossible because it completely contradicts the character of our God.
Maybe, instead, this is where it all really begins.
And so, I command my soul to listen to this truth: I will never, not on earth or in heaven, come to know all of who He is.
He is still holding my hand and taking me on this journey to fall more deeply in love with Him. The sink isn’t clogged. Together, He and I are still walking forward. Even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
And so maybe that’s why I’ve felt off this week. My heart is aching and longing to be held by my Jesus, and I don’t know anything else that will satisfy… and I can’t play tug-of-war with God.
All I can do, ever, is surrender. Life is a constant practice in surrender and trust, isn’t it?
Lord, teach me how to rest in Your unfailing love.
Help me trust that You hear me and that You are the mighty, holy, relentlessly good and benevolent and generous answerer of prayer.
Help me let go of the rope and instead hold tight to the truth that You want me to know You even more than I want to.