I want to understand and know His love. And I am greedy enough to not be ok with only knowing it’s there, but really wanting to feel loved. I want to live my life from a place of feeling loved so I can love others not from a sense of obligation but from this experience of being loved. Because I think that’s the only way love is authentic, when it comes from a place of being loved and known, not by the people you are loving, but from God. When I posed this question to Him the other day asking Him to help me understand why I have a hard time receiving love, He told me to look at it again from a parent child relationship. So I started imagining how I would answer these questions if my children asked them to me.
Child: Do you love me?
Parent: How could you even ask me that? Do you know everything I have given up for you and how all I do keeps you safe, protected, provided for, and secure? You are on my mind all the time?
Child: I know you love me but I can’t always feel it. I’m sorry. I wish I could. I think there is something wrong with me.
Parent: You need to be held. Come here. Let me stroke your hair and kiss your cheek and tell you all the ways you are beautiful and precious to me. I know you better and longer than anyone else. I know you.
Child: But I’m not a child anymore. I’ve changed. I think my own thoughts. I make my own judgements about life. I have made mistakes that would shame you if you knew.
Parent: I know. And I still love you. Your life comes from me. My heart is inside you. My love for you is not based in your goodness or even your love for me but my faithfulness and my love for you. You cannot undo that kind of love.
Child: Why does that feel like it’s just by default that you love me, then, like I could be anyone and you would love me?
Parent: But you are not just anyone. You are uniquely you. And when I look at you, I see all the personality traits I love in you. Even the things you think your your worst traits, I see how that’s beautiful and it’s also usable to bring life to others. If you walk in obedience to me, I’ll help you figure all that out. We’ll unpack all the possibility that lies dormant and ready to bring to life in your heart and to this world. If you listen, you will hear me intentionally remind you of these things and call those things to life in you every day. We can explore all the beauty that I see in you. I don’t just love you because you are mine, although that’s the main reason.
I also love you because who you are is really amazing. I look at you and think how I love the way your eyes crinkle and sparkle when you laugh or how your hair falls across your cheek. You are stunning. And I listen to you talk and I see how your mind works and I love when you let me into your secret thoughts about the world and people and yourself. You are like this work of art that I made but I am still surprised by. And all this means my love for you is unique because you are uniquely you. Our relationship is not like the relationship I have with your brothers and sisters. No one else will ever experience my love for you. I will never think of anyone else in the same way I think of you. We have our own unique beautiful relationship because you relate to me differently than your brothers and sisters. We talk about different things than I do with them. You like to see things a certain way. Your brother sees the beauty in nature and the mathematical mechanics of the world and we talk about that, your sister loves to paint the beauty she sees and I see her heart and mine reflected in her artistry, but you, the way you see things and the way you live life is uniquely yours. And the way I love you is a mixture of my faithful unending love and your reception, assurance, and enjoyment of that love and my enjoyment of the love you give back to me.
Child: OK. I am starting to understand this and that actually sounds amazing. How do I stay in that place of really understanding that?
Parent: Let me tell you over and over until it becomes a part of you again. Stay close to me and let me whisper it in your ear. Your view of yourself will start to align with mine and then you will start to feel again how much I love you. Because that is truth. If you are not experiencing this love it means you have allowed yourself to believe a lie. Counter that lie with the truth.
Child: What is the lie?
Parent: Usually it’s one of these lies
- Your worth lies in what you can do, make, or produce.
- Your are lovable only in your most perfect state.
- You are loved because of what you give to others.
- You are only loved out of obligation.
- Love is conditional and based on your performance.
- Love will run out—at some point you are not forgivable.
- You are not worth fighting for.
- You are not seen.
- You are not known.
But my love drives out all these lies and all the fears and insecurities. You are loved because you are mine, not because of what you do. You are loved even when you are angry, dirty, grouchy, or tired. You are loved even when you are sick or hurt and unable to do things you want to do. You are loved when you are not at your best. You are loved even when you are too tired or too selfish to serve others. I am not obligated to love you. I love you because of who I am and who you to me. It will continue even if you fail over and over. It will pursue even if you are really bad at everything you try (which you are not by the way–stop holding yourself to this standard of perfection!). My love is not based on your success or ability to always make the right choice. I will forgive you every single time you ask. Also, I see you. In a crowd of a thousand, my eyes are on you. I am aware of you all the time. I am watching your reactions to see what you like and what you don’t because I love knowing you. Because you are never out of my gaze, since the day you were born, I know you better than you even know yourself. Know the truth. Know my love.
But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe [trust] in His name.