Love-Longing

winter berries bestIt’s a gloriously slow, snowy morning…quiet and peaceful. All my sweethearts are warm, cozy, and asleep.  Me….warm and cozy in my comfy chair, pondering the truth of God’s love.

Recently a friend challenged me to consider what love really is.  What does it mean to be loved by God?  What does it mean to be loved by another?  What does love look like in a relationship?  What is it supposed to feel like?  I think those were all her suggested questions for pondering…there were probably more, but you get the idea.

I am accepting that challenge.

It’s something I want to understand.  I need to understand. Sometimes I struggle to allow myself to be loved.  I think in the back of my head and heart I’m waiting for someone to say, “Nope.  You aren’t worth it.  I thought I loved you, but you just really haven’t lived up to my ideals. You are not ideal.”

Maybe it’s because I’m so intimately acquainted with my failings and my fears and my frustrations…I know myself.  

Maybe it’s because I don’t really understand how I can be loved for me, not just for what I do or say or don’t do or don’t say.

Maybe it’s because I don’t understand how much the Father really and truly loves me.  I can’t comprehend it.  I can’t grasp it.  I can’t believe it.

Intellectually, I believe it. But in every other way, I don’t seem to get it.  

Why in the world does He want to love me, much less actually love me?  

What is it about me that is lovable?  What is it about me that is beautiful to Him?

My life has been marked by conditional love…if my behavior, my actions, my accomplishments, my looks, my work, my spirituality, the circumstances all work out, if no one else is available…then I’m quite lovable to some.  But if the stars aren’t aligned then not so much…

I think I’m finally understanding that I can’t make people love me (nor should I) and wondrously I can’t make God not love me.

Sigh.  There is so much comfort in that.  I wish I knew how to live like I know it.

Love….such a huge concept, and yet so simple.

It all comes together in three little words.

God is love.

Three profound little words.  Three syllables.  Three short little words in a short little sentence that encompass all the meaning the world could ever truly need.

I need love because I need God.  

I am daring love to change me.  Daring love to strengthen me.

I can do this, because I believe that God speaks truth when He says that He is love.

Love isn’t some feeling I have to feel to live.  It is a Person I have to know to survive.

A capital P person.  

I keep thinking that some little p person is going to help me understand love.  How unfair of me!  No one can possibly love me like Jesus does.  They can try…and honestly please do! But I can’t expect the love-longing I have in me to be filled by any person.  

What person could possibly love me perfectly?  

I love my children more than I thought I could possibly love another human being and I fail miserably at it.  Daily.  How is another person supposed to step into my far less than perfect life and love me perfectly?  

What would someone loving me perfectly look like anyway?  I mean really.  

Sometimes I think I really want the Hallmark movie love…the fairytale, pursue me, happily ever after kind of love.. I thought I had that…but clearly I did not.  I kind of had the Lifetime movie love…drama, adultery, betrayal.

But really and truly I want the kind of love that God talks about…the lay-down-your-life love.  The no-fear love.  The unconditional love.   The you are such a mess and I love you anyway love.

Already have it.

Have always had it.

Just keep forgetting it.

I believe that when I grasp how loved I am by God, I will be better at receiving love from others.  When I understand that I’m worth loving because I’m the me God made me to be, then I can love without fear.

And be loved without fear.

I’m working on it. I’m making an effort to allow myself to be loved and to not try so hard to earn love…to let go of the trying.   To let go of the working at being lovable.

I’m probably more lovable when I’m not trying so hard anyway.

There are verses about love that I love. Verses that remind me that love is more than just feeling warm and cuddly.  Love is bold and daring.  Love is action.  Love is strength.

There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

I love you Lord, my strength.  Psalm 18:1

I have loved.  I have trusted when it was really, really difficult to trust.  I have leaned in to anxiety and pushed through fear and determined to know how to love well and received love well and see God work

I have succeeded and I have failed.  I have opened up my heart and I have closed it as quickly…only to break it back open again.  I have softened my heart and hardened it…and allowed it to be massaged back to tenderness. I have laid awake with fear and closed my eyes in prayer for peace.  I have determined to understand this thing called love.

It is challenging.  It is terrifying.

Love is all the beautiful things and all the heartbreaking things.  But isn’t that life?  Isn’t life about living messy?  

Love is messy..  

When Jesus was beaten, whipped, and bloodied for me, it was messy.

When Jesus carried that horrific cross down the Via Dolorosa, it was messy.

When Jesus hung on that scandalous cross dying, it was messy.

A magnificent mess of love.    

God loves me in my messiness.  God loves me in my chaos.  God loves me in my fears, doubts, anxious thoughts, and frustrations.  God loves me regardless of how well I love Him.  

He will always love me.

I pray my heart grasps the deep, deep love of Jesus.  

I pray my heart opens wide for that love.

I pray my heart learns from that love how to give and receive love well.

Love is worth it.

My Savior tells me that I’m worth it.  

 

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Anyone Else Feel Done?

Young woman lying back on a couch talking on a mobile phone

Today I feel done.

I am done.

Done with disrespect and disobedience and difficulties.

Done with trying to reason with teenagers.

Done with trying to reign in kindergarteners.

Done with trying to make decisions.

Done with trying to get organized.

Done with cleaning up the mess my ex-husband has made. 

Done with trying to understand how to parent all these children alone.

Done with trying to figure out how to do this life with any sense of grace, composure, or patience.

Done.

There are so many things to think about and do…I’m tired.  I just wish I could take a timeout and have a replacement come in for a bit of this game.  Being a single parent is hard.

I had to confront a child today on cell phone usage and school issues.  Golly, you would have thought that cell phone was her only source of oxygen. 

I wanted to work with her and help her develop a plan to exercise responsible use of her phone and her schoolwork.  Instead I was met with all those stereotypical teenage responses.  Those responses which make my head close to exploding.  

Until about 4 months ago, my daughter was not stereotypical…and then boys entered the picture, and cheerleading, and that blasted cell phone. 

I hate technology.

I want my children to be able to contact me while they are with their dad, but…ugh…I hate cell phones. 

Unfortunately it has become, to some of my children, a right not a privilege.  And what a colossal waste of time this “right” offers!

She is avoiding responsibilities and school work.  My sweet, sweet daughter has become a very entitled, insecure young woman.  She does not believe she is smart and therefore has no vision for what her life can become.  At 15 that is a bit disconcerting.  I know that her self-esteem and image issues have a lot to do with our family’s situation, but it doesn’t help me know how to deal with them.

I have had the most wonderful relationship with her for so long I’m floored by this new turn of events.  I know my dear daughter is in there somewhere…Lord, please help me reach her.

I do know that some of her behavior is ordinary teenage angst, but I want my daughter to be extraordinary.  I believe she is.

Everything I say to build her up she calls a “mom lie.”  She says it’s like a mom telling her daughter she’s pretty even when she isn’t.   Ugh.  That so isn’t true.  My daughter is smart, talented, and beautiful inside and out.  She just doesn’t see it or feel it. 

I’m broken-hearted for my darling daughter.  I cannot be her father as much as I try to…I’m a miserable failure at it.  I cannot give to her what her dad was designed to provide. 

But even as I write in my despairing state, God has laid it on my heart that He is the perfect Father for my daughter.  Oh that she knew that to her core.  She does not.  Her faith is wobbly at best and I’m afraid I’ve failed miserably there as well.  I felt certain my children would be firm in their faith because of God’s faithfulness throughout our challenges…unfortunately, I think some of my children still only see the challenges.

I’ve not pointed out His care and provision often enough.  I’ve been praising Him to everyone but my children.  Father, forgive me and may your grace pour over my children and all my parenting mistakes.

A friend reminded me the other day how important prayer is…how it’s vital that we pray with our children and allow them the privilege of seeing God answer.  I’m sitting her realizing that although at this point my daughter and I have made up, we have not prayed together.  How is that even possible that I didn’t pray with her?

I think I best stop typing and go pray with my daughter…to show her that my strength and hers is from the Lord…that He cares about all these big and little issues…and He will answer.  And I think I’ll also remind her of who she is in Christ…beloved, precious, God’s workmanship, more than a conqueror, able to do all things in Christ, forgiven and saved.  She cannot say that is a “mom lie.”  God said it!

Before I go, thank you so very much for listening…for allowing me to process my thoughts through my fingers, and come, as always, back to my Faithful Father and His love for me and my dear children.