Love is tricky business.
Funny thing is, it’s supposedly the very thing that our faith is built on. This entire Christian thing is summed up in love.
At least it’s supposed to be.
But, this world has distorted our view of love.
It’s distorted mine.
The other day, God and I were having a rather intense conversation about this…he told me that this part of me is broken.
I was like, WHAT? I know how to love. I love really well. I’m not perfect, but I forgive, I honor, I am honest. I walk in love!
But, he was pointing at something deeper. A part of me that had been untouched for a long time…
Life experiences taught me that when I encountered real love, it usually meant heartbreak. It included pain.
I didn’t like that.
I didn’t trust that.
I guarded very tightly against that.
So, in my “Christian mind” I’d landed on this version of self-less love. Where I would pour a bunch of my time, resources and energy into you, but I would not expect or make room for love to be received in return.
Because that would mean vulnerability.
I could become needy.
I could become dependent on you.
THAT IS SCARY AND UNSAFE.
He showed me that the kind of love I had developed is not sustainable long term. Because He doesn’t love that way. I’m made to love the way He loves.
God’s love is risky.
He risks that we won’t love him in return.
He invests in us risking that we will walk away.
He plants deep roots risking that we will want to plant elsewhere.
But He doesn’t play safe.
THIS GRIPPED MY HEART.
HOW THE HECK DO WE DO THIS???!
I stayed up last night wrestling this out in my heart with him (yes, this is something God and I do. We talk through all hours of the night…makes me very tired the next day, but seriously. SO WORTH IT)
He broke this down for me:
My problem is not investing. My problem is not loving. My problem is not planting my roots deep with people. I am fully capable of all of those things. My problem is I fear them not doing the same.
When fear kicks in, something in me changes.
I turn immediately inward.
I become independent.
I put a small (yet very effective) wall in place inside my heart that guards it tightly. Preventing any sort of heartbreak or abandonment.
I’M VERY GOOD AT THIS.
Here is where I am broken. Here is where I am not like him. God does not do this. EVER. He is not moved by fear.
But, there is one being who is: Satan.
And ironically, Satan is the most independent being in existence. While God operates as a unit and interdependent being, Satan operates on his own. He has followers and legions that carry out his wishes, but ultimately, he is his own being.
If we are created like God, why do we think that independence is the safest answer?
It’s a lie.
Straight from the independent one himself.
This hit me. HARD.
Because my natural tendency is to respond to the feelings that fear ignites. (Loneliness, heartache, abandonment, rejection, insecurity). All of those feelings are secondary. But if I focus on them, I will wall off my heart and become an isolated independent island.
THIS IS THE BIGGEST COUNTERFEIT MESSAGE I BATTLE.
I only win this battle, when I move past the secondary feelings and focus solely on the primary issue: fear.
FEAR IS MY BATTLEGROUND.
I believe it is the battleground for every person who calls themselves a Jesus follower. Fear is the culprit behind nearly every secondary issue you face.
Fear is powerful.
It will consume all of your attention if you allow it to.
But, if we can shift our attention off of the emotions – off of the feelings fear brings – and set our eyes on our enemy; we step into a battle that can be fought and won.
If I was going to beat my fear, I had to face it.
Here it is: I’m afraid of being left and rejected. (It’s a terrible feeling, but because of trauma I experienced, these roots go deep)
Thankfully, God gripped my hand and walked me into that battle.
This is what it looked like:
Me: God, I’m terrified of being left again! I can’t go through that pain again. I can’t open my heart and risk that again.
Him: What if that happened? What if you were left again? Then what?
Me: (after a long pause) I’d hold onto you
Him: Can you trust that I would restore you? That I would bring someone else to treasure you?
Me: (crying) No…I don’t trust you to do that. I’m sorry! I don’t. I just don’t.
Him: I’m asking you to take a risk. Risk letting me carry this. Let go of your fear and choose to trust me here.
I literally felt a war inside my soul.
I felt the pull towards independence and fear. I felt the desire to wall off and not trust. But, at the same time, I felt a gentle pull to trust him. I knew it was the safest…even though I didn’t feel like I could trust God here, I knew I needed to.
Me: (in angry tears) Okay. I will try. But you have to help me. I don’t know how to do this!
After this exchange, something revolutionary happened.
Peace slammed my heart.
LIKE OVERWHELMED IT.
The position of my heart changed.
I transitioned from conditional love into something deeper: covenant love.
With those he has called me to love inside of covenant, I am called to love with risk.
When the fears of being left or rejected come in, I must choose to push aside the feelings of potential loneliness and the ache of fearing rejection. I must force myself to face the fear.
I have to tell my soul that even if they leave, God will prepare someone else to take that place. He will guard me. If he calls me to love like this, he will protect my heart.
To walk like Jesus, we have to be willing to love like him. Fearlessly, shamelessly love. And that only happens when we trust him with the deepest, messiest guts of our hearts.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18