February is the month of love. Basically from January 1st to February 14th the only things we see in stores and the only ads we see on TV are Valentine’s Day related. This time of year is usually when I feel my singleness the most. My normal thoughts would be, “Oh man, I wish I had a boyfriend I could celebrate Valentine’s Day with. I wish I wasn’t alone eating a heart-shaped pizza and chocolate right now” (although, who am I kidding? I would LOVE to eat a heart-shaped pizza!). But to my surprise, this year I feel myself thinking less about love from a boyfriend and more about love from God.
My time in counseling these last few months has really been a gift from Heaven. Each session my counselor and I uncover a new lie I’ve been believing (either about myself or about God or both), and we get to the heart of it. We peel back the layers of each lie and get to the sin in my heart. And then comes the best part: combatting it with Truth.
Last week the lie we debunked was that God gives others good gifts but not me. And in the process of uncovering that lie layer by layer, I realized that I was believing that God shows me His love by giving me the desires of my heart. At this point in my life, my two biggest desires are to get married and to be done with raising my support (if you didn’t already pick up on that from my previous blog posts). Because neither of these things has happened yet, I was subconsciously believing that God doesn’t love me. I realized I was feeling unloved, rejected by God, and over looked by Him. I felt like my prayers were going unanswered, unheard. Which led to me not wanting to pray because I thought I was just going to get my hopes up then be let down again. And I can only take so much of that.
As I was talking (read: rambling) with my counselor, she stopped me for a second and asked, “What would it feel like to feel God’s love?” After an awkward pause while I got my thoughts together and tried to come up with an answer, I said the first thing that came to mind. My dad. The way my dad shows his love for our family is how I picture God showing love to His children. My dad is so selfless, gracious, merciful, caring, and encouraging. I know that I could make the dumbest mistake and he would always welcome me home and help me figure things out. He has told me my whole life that I can talk to him about anything and that I can always come home no matter what. All that to say, I imagine feeling God’s love would feel safe and like I’m taken care of.
I continued verbally processing and realized that I had twisted this idea of safety and care to mean comfortable and easy. The Lord promised to take care of His children (Matthew 6:25-34), but He never promised them an easy or comfortable life (John 16:33). But my idols of ease and comfort grow bigger in my mind and in my heart, leaving no room for the Truth. I realized that because my ultimate goal was to have an easy and comfortable life, my prayers had turned into asking God for what I thought would be the best-case scenario. I’ve been treating God like a genie whose only job is to grant all my wishes. But that is not God’s job at all, and that is not how He shows me His love.
Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved.” First John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” The Bible references God’s love for us over and over and over again. Heck, the whole theme of the Bible is God’s love for us. He has already shown me His love by sending His Son to take my place, to pay the penalty for my sins, and to take the wrath of God and death that I deserved. It has already been done. So I don’t have to sit around and wait for His love to be revealed. Him answering my prayers or blessing me with the desires of my heart is just an added bonus.
If you were to ask me right now, “What would it feel like to feel God’s love?” my answer might be a little different. As I am writing out this blog post, God has revealed to me that He also shows me His love by sanctifying me–making me more like Jesus. He doesn’t allow me to remain in my sin or wallow in the lies from the enemy. I’m learning that struggling isn’t a bad thing–it’s evidence of God working in my life. It may be painful (I associate it with surgery, spiritual surgery if you will). But God says it will totally be worth it. I’m thankful that He doesn’t allow me to remain the same person for my whole life. I’m thankful that God chose to show me His love by maturing me, sanctifying me, and surgically removing the sludge from my undeserving, and sometimes unwilling, heart.
“Oh yes! He wants you to know his love. But it is not a love that you can gauge by how you feel today, or by the state of your health, or by the amount of your wealth, or by how well people speak of you, or how gifted you are, or whether your dreams of marriage or career or parenting are coming true, or whether your church is growing, or how many likes you get on Facebook (or Instagram), or any other achievement.” (my own emphasis added to highlight the ones I really struggle with) –“God Wants You to Know How Much He Loves You” on desiringgod.org