I was looking back at this year and realized that I fell into love…. not with a mortal man but with something so much greater.
I have faced unimaginable heart break and walked a fair amount of my journey alone with only the knowledge of God’s presence….. but I have discovered what it is to love as Christ first loved me. Its not about being loved by those around me. It’s not about doing the right things to show my love. It’s not about feeling loved or even others acknowledging the love I give to them.
I want to share how I fell into love this year, mostly because I know that the one thing everyone craves is love and it has been the only way that the desire has been met for me.
1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Love isn’t just something that I’m called to give but rather receive. When I receive God’s love my heart changes in ways that I could never accomplish on my own.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are to be like JESUS. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment!
When I fully receive God’s love I’m living in Him and I am made complete giving me the confidence that on judgement day there will be no punishment for me. There is no punishment in his love….so I have no fear! What a beautiful thought…..
Hebrews 12: 5-6
Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and He corrects everyone he accepts as his child.
God disciplines or teaches me molding me into the likeness of him. Punishment is causing meaningless suffering out of revenge……… not love. Just as God loves me through people he will discipline me through people and if I am to love others I am called to discipline and correct others.
1 John 4:19
We love because He first loved us…….
It is only because I have seen and experienced Gods love for myself that I am able to love others. The fruit of which is
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love does not envy….boast… proud….dishonor others…..self seeking… easily angered….keep record of wrongs…delight in evil.
Love is….Patient….Kind….Rejoices in truth….Protects….. Always Hopes…. Always Perseveres….Most importantly
LOVE NEVER FAILS
I few years ago I shared how God had used the previous years struggles to show me his love for me through the people he brought into my life. The hardships I faced forced me to reach out to others and allowed me to experience Gods love in a way that I never had before. I knew of His love and believed in it but I had not experienced it through the people around me that way until I came face to face with my past.
Early on in that experience I didn’t understand what was going on inside of me. I couldn’t see what God was doing to me, how he was molding me so that I could love others as He first loved me. I tried to keep the people around me that I thought should love me and there was a part of me that knew they couldn’t love me in the way that I craved. I thought that if God used people then I had to figure out how to keep those people who I thought would love me in my life. That was stressful and scary. I found myself anxious, worried and fearful for the first time of what others thought of me. I knew that I shouldn’t be, but I couldn’t understand where this fear had come from. I found myself wanting to test people to see if they would stick around. No one had ever cared enough to stick around so why would these people. I wanted to see how far I could push boundaries because I had never come close to anyone’s boundaries before. When you never let anyone close to you and you never get close to anyone else it is impossible to cross a boundary. Subconsciously I was sabotaging relationships to see if anyone really wanted or cared to be there for me. I didn’t want to be someone’s project or someone who was loved out of obligation because it was the Christ like thing to do. I honestly didn’t believe anyone was capable of loving me just for me. That anyone would want to have anything to do with me once they knew the things I really struggled with.
I wanted people to want to do things with me….not because I asked but because they genuinely loved spending time with me. I’m not sure if that ever really happened. There was a point where I thought it did happen and with a small group of people I let a small piece of me shine. I had begun to believe that some of them were sincere in the things they said and did. I was experiencing a feeling that I hadn’t really felt before and it was so precious to me that it terrified me. I thought that for the first time I was feeling truly loved and accepted by others. Inside I was scared that it would be wrong because people shouldn’t have the ability to make me feel so good. God was the only one who should make me feel that way. When I tried to talk to a few people about it I was sadly misunderstood. I walked away condemning myself for something that was a gift from God to be cherished and shared with others. I actually believed that I didn’t know how to love right…..sounds silly I know…..but if you’ve never walked in my shoes you wouldn’t understand and to walk in my shoes you would have to know my story. I’m not sure any of those people in that small group really knew me or even cared to. What I have come to know is that for the first time I was connecting with people on a level that I never had allowed myself to in the past. That feeling was from being accepted as part of a family, a sense of belonging and most importantly not being alone. Was I feeling love? I don’t know and I’m not sure that I really care.
Sadly I was so conflicted with what I should be doing, or even worse, what I should be feeling so that I wouldn’t lose them….. because I was told I needed them and without them God couldn’t love me. I needed to make those relationships work but it turns out all my effort was in vain and I think its pretty safe to say that I have lost all of those relationships in the last year. I could be wrong…. and I’m not dead so there is time for things to change. I know that I have changed a lot in the last year and that other people change too. I also know that God is bigger than all of this mess.
I’ve watched God use this to take me places I would’ve never gone to otherwise. When I first left last January it wasn’t meant to be a Goodbye. I was loving them as Christ first loved me. Sometimes that love is painful and looks more like discipline. It may not have been my choice to leave but it is my choice to return. I’ve found healing these last 11 months and have grown in ways that I never would have had I stayed and simply kept my mouth shut.
The word I thought God had for me in 2015 was forgiveness. Now that I’ve reached the end I realize that while I learned a lot about forgiveness I learned even more about LOVE. I thought I needed to forgive but I had already forgiven the people who hurt me. I wanted them to understand my pain not because they could fix any of the damage done to me but so they could learn and be able to help others like me without doing more damage.
Learning to rest in the knowledge of God’s love for me has released me from the anxiety and worry of what others think of me. I am no longer disappointed by those around me nor do I look to them to justify myself. There are still many days that I spiral down and things set me back but God always pulls me back to his truth. Love is everything, the most important gift I can receive and offer to others. It is only because of Love that I am able to be fearless where I was once fearful.
The word I believe God has for me for 2016 is FEARLESS! I believe God wants me to learn to step out and face some of my worst fears and the only way I can accomplish that is by relying on the knowledge of His love for me and what it means for me. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes and fall more than a few times but I know he’ll be there to pick me up with or without people in my life.
The last verse I would like to share with you is
For He has not given me a Spirit of timidity but rather one of Power, Love, and of Sound Mind.
God has blessed me with the gift of the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit he reveals knowledge of who He is, which in turn gives me the Power that allows me to Love and have a sound mind. This verse has become a foundational rock for my spiritual journey. As I look to this next year my goal is simple ….. rest in the knowledge of Gods Love for me and not run in fear from the Love he is trying to bless me with. I don’t know if it will be new people or people from the past but if the Spirit leads me I will have nothing to fear.