My relationships with people have always been SAFE. I’ve always been 0 or 100, hot or cold, yes or no. I’ve never really experienced a relationship in between with someone. I’m either for you, on your team, rooting you on… or I’m not. And to be quite frank, there are very few times I can think of where I HAVEN’T been on someones team. If I wasn’t on someones team, chances are it had something to do with them tearing down someone else…. who’s team I actually was on. I might have a tendency to be a bit over – protective….
See, when I tell you I’m 0-100, it explains a LOT of aspects of my life – but one in particular I’d like to focus on today; love.
I love HARD. I’m not talking about the way that most people refer to loving hard, when they say that they fall hard and fall fast… when I say that I love hard, I mean that I love RIDICULOUSLY, dangerously, recklessly, mistakingly hard. I love people so hard that I can completely lose myself and sabotage myself in those seasons. I take peoples burdens on as my own. I love, knowing that I might get burned, but walking into the fire anyways because I believe that maybe I can be the rescue they need. Maybe I can be the one person that can pull them out of their hurt and give them hope again. If they’ve been burned by love before I want to show them how good and pure love actually can be – and I want to show them in any and every way that I know how. I’ve lost myself loving people like this before, and tonight the Lord showed me why.
A lot of people can say that I’ve taken care of them or loved on them in a time where they were down or struggling; what they don’t know is that all the while when I was loving on them and the many around them, I was actually setting myself up to earn their love before they ever had a chance to offer it.
See, I’ve never been good at receiving anything (except maybe constructive criticism LOL). I don’t know how to receive sincere compliments (I blush, get awkward, my smile gets really forced and painful looking), I don’t know how to receive presents (I automatically start thinking about how I can compensate for the gift without them knowing), and I’m DEFINITELY not good at receiving ANY praise or recognition for something I don’t feel I deserved. So when you start talking about receiving love… my approach to it has always been more of a defense mechanism then it has been actually receiving it. My solution was just to earn everybody’s love before they had a chance to offer it, – and to earn as much love as I could from as many people as I could. That way, if I ever came to a place in my life where I needed love, I knew that I had some “stored up” that I had earned that I could use. It’s like I wanted all these people to feel like they had some sort of debt to me just so if I needed something I could ask and not feel like I was asking for something I didn’t deserve to receive. I didn’t even realize that although my intentions and my heart were pure, somewhere along the line of my life I stopped allowing myself to experience pure, unmerited, humbling, LOVE.
Recently, when I was feeling insecure, I sincerely cried out to God. I told Him I wanted to see what He saw in me every time I looked in the mirror. Later that day, I was in my room listening to some music, and one line seemed louder than the rest. The line said “It’s alright, it’s okay, so don’t stress go to your knees”. That line just seemed louder than the rest and I felt like God was telling me to get on my knees. The second I did, I was overcome with emotion. I’m talking, tears-pouring-down-your face crying – barely having enough oxygen to breathe but also feeling like for the first time in FOREVER you can ACTUALLY breathe. I realized how much I had been missing out on. All of the sudden I realized that there was so much more to God’s love – I had just never taken the chance to sit at His feet and allow Him to show me. I didn’t let anybody love on me without some sort of repayment. With God, there’s nothing I can give Him that He NEEDS. God isn’t lacking in any area that I excel in, so there’s nothing I can offer Him or do to make Him “owe” me. I’m not capable of contributing ANYTHING that has ANY importance to God EXCEPT my heart.
As all of this began to settle in, I started looking at the friendships/ relationships I’ve had in the past. I looked at some of the things that I had done to make myself feel like I had earned their love; the things I had done to save up love. I even looked at the confusion and disappointment I had caused when people in turn tried to love me and I wouldn’t accept it. I didn’t “need” it yet – I was “okay” without it so I kept my distance. God reminded me of one particular example. I was dating a guy, and he had done some things that had caused some serious damage to my heart. Because I had been wounded, I had subconsciously decided that if I wanted to continue in this relationship, the only way to do it was to accept that I would love him through this season but I would not rely, depend on, or accept his love beyond the surface. He couldn’t come near my heart anymore, he had lost that right. And I thought it was okay, cause I thought it was just “for a season” while he found his healing.
One day we were crossing a street, and the little hand on the crosswalk light started blinking. I sped up, and he reached out for my arm to hurry me along. I reacted, big time. I yanked my arm away and gave him a look that said “Back up, I don’t need your help!”. My reaction surprised us both. Later that day when we talked about it, I realized what I had been doing. I didn’t trust him to be careful with my heart anymore, I didn’t want his help anymore and I didn’t want his love. I didn’t need it so I didn’t want it. And just like he was trying to lovingly guide me across the street and I jerked away, I had been jerking away from his attempts to show me love. I didn’t want to lean on someone who I felt would let me down. Maybe I was right, because humans are bound to let us down. But that’s not the case with God.
With God, I’ve never been scared that He’ll let me down; I’ve been scared that I will let Him down. I know how that feels. I know what it’s like to have someone do the same thing to you over and over; and every time they come back you believe that it’s going to be different and then you end up crushed and disappointed. I know that heartbreak. And I don’t want to do that to God, I don’t want to break His heart. But the truth is, the pain that I thought I would be inflicting on God by letting Him down was actually microscopic compared to the pain NOT coming back to Him caused. God already knows that I’m going to let Him down again. He knows it’s going to happen over and over and over again, I’m weak and I’m human and THAT’S WHY THERE’S JESUS. That’s WHY Jesus died. Not for the one time I sin; but for all the times after I supposedly “learned my lesson” that I STILL choose to sin; barely having enough energy to crawl back to the altar and ask Him to forgive me again. It’s not supposed to be a picture of love that excuses sin or gives you “flexibility” to make bad choices, it’s a picture of love that knocks you off your feet and keeps you SOBBING in your bedroom for hours when you truly get a glimpse of it. That’s the love God the Father offers, that’s the message of salvation. That’s the only love that will ever satisfy us and that’s what every relationship in our lives should be modeled after.
So now, we move forward. We examine our relationships, friendships, and we examine our relationship with God. What relationships have required that we earn the love we’re shown – and was that expectation brought on by them, or simply by ourselves and our own pride, unwilling to accept undeserved love?
We’re called to love – but we can’t love to the capacity we were made to until we feel the capacity of the love we were made THROUGH. In my personal training business, if I walk around telling people how exercise has made me so healthy but I never actually exercise myself, they won’t really believe that exercise is essential to health. Even if they take my word for it, they’re always going to believe that there’s another way because I’m not living up to it; I’m not practicing what I preach. They need to see the transformation. If you love people but you have never allowed yourself to experience the fullness of God’s love, some people might actually take your word for it; but they’re also going to believe there’s another way. You have to be 100% in. You have to receive what you’re offering, you have to LIVE it out so they see that receiving His love is the ONLY way to get the love they want. God’s love is the ONLY way to be fulfilled and content – it’s the ONLY way to experience pure, unlimited, untapped JOY. So what are you waiting for?
If like me, you’ve never really been able to fully experience the love of God… or maybe you accepted His love a long time ago but you’ve never just sat as His feet and let Him give you undeserving love… these are some steps He showed me to start receiving it.
1. Let Go of Your Pride.
You’re going to let God down, get over it. You’re not immune to that, you’re not exempt from failures, you’re going to mess up and you’re going to have to ask His forgiveness. Just know that if it doesn’t look good yet, HE ISN’T DONE YET.
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
2. Let Go of Convenient Disobedience.
Forgiveness is not offered so you can keep making the same mistakes. If accepting his love is so hard for you because you’re confident that you’re going to let Him down again, you need to make some practical changes to your lifestyle so that you don’t continue to make the same, stupid mistakes. Even Jesus had to DEVELOP obedience. Obedience is developed by making hard decisions that aren’t fun and aren’t comfortable; and by HUMBLING yourself enough to make them. It’s not about me – it’s about my call and my testimony. I don’t care if I let myself down temporarily by saying no to something that might create temptation – I’m NOT going to chance letting God down.
“And being found in human form, he (Jesus) humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:1-2
3. Let Go of Shame.
You cant use your shame to slow your RUN back to the cross. Run – SPRINT – every time! EVERY single time He is waiting for you to come back, no matter how stupid you’ve been. EVERY time He greets you with open arms and offers you the BEST because you’re his CHILD. Just like the story in the Bible of the prodigal son… when the son blew all of his inheritance and he said,”I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15:18-25
God is waiting for you to come back, and He’s waiting to pour his love on you. Undeserved, unexplainable, unlimited, and unfathomable. It’s time to receive.