The need to feel loved is a universal thing, although I suspect that we women are a little more conscious of this need in ourselves than men. Men are generally not as introspective, and women are also generally more willing to deal openly with feelings. I had learned at a very young age that if I expected to feel loved, I had to find that love somewhere else than in my family. Through some Christian books I was blessed by recognizing that I could find that love in God. As a child I had no understanding of theology; I only looked for someone to love me… and He was there.
When I became a teenager, I became conscious of my need for forgiveness as well as solace. It was overwhelming to realize that, although He knows me better than I know myself, He was prepared to forgive me for all my self-will and anger. I will never forget the moment I realized that He loved me exactly as I was. I didn’t have to turn myself inside out for Him. I didn’t have to be something I wasn’t or pretend something I didn’t feel. He already knew everything about me, and He still loved me. Even now when I think of it, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and a sense of being overcome by love. Because I knew He loved me unconditionally I wanted to become the best I could. I wanted to please Him by not giving Him anything about me to regret.
Over the course of my lifetime circumstances have led me to put up many walls of self-protection, and it became almost impossible for me to trust in human love. I am embarrassed to confess that even today whenever I am on the receiving end of simple kindness or generosity from other humans I find myself surprised. I am still afraid to trust in grace and kindness in others and when it is sincerely offered it can almost bring me to tears. God’s grace is even more extraordinary. To know that the infinite, almighty God calls me His child and longs to comfort me is overwhelming.
In the years since I received Christ, my faith has gone through many phases. There have been times when I was closer to Him than at other times. I have wrestled with Him over bits and pieces of me that He wanted me to relinquish to Him and which I was unwilling to let go. There were times when my anger and hurt and frustration with the details of my life were so intrusive that I shut Him out in order to indulge in my own pain and self-pity. Instead of sharing it with Him I chose to nurture my anger ~ to hug it to myself instead of looking for a way to forgive. In those times, my love for the Lord was shunted off to the side. I never stopped loving Him, but the clear lines of communication between us were sometimes clogged with the pollution of my own refusal to let go. Had He turned away from me? No ~ I had turned away from Him, and deprived myself of His comfort and solace. His love for me remained steadfast, but I was unable to receive it.
Each time this has happened I have had to be brought to a place where I finally came to an end of myself and realized that I needed God more than I needed my anger. I had to choose to forgive and restore the communication between us. Each time it was a different problem, but it always had the same solution: trust, and obey. Each time I came away with some new understanding, some new facet of His love and faithfulness. Then I would see clearly how I had been shutting Him out, and needed to fall on my knees asking His forgiveness and thanking Him for His love. It was always there; He never failed me.
When I first made the decision to follow Christ, I remember wondering what was going to happen now, never dreaming of the many strange paths along which God would take me in my new journey. I have never regretted my decision. I look back and see how faithfully He pursued me; how carefully He prepared the ground for me to say, “Yes” to the offer of His love. I know there are others who long for Someone to love them. When I hear of so many with broken dreams, devastating circumstances and no hope for the future, I long to tell them of God’s love ~ of the Savior Who came to bring peace (Isaiah 9:6) and to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted. (Is. 61:1) I observe the frenetic lives of those trying to find happiness in things or in a lack of responsibility toward other s~ moral anarchy. I know that ultimately they will only find despair because these things never fully satisfy. There is something in each of us that is aware of something deeper, that responds to the call of the spirit. Psalm 42:7) We can try to shut it out and fill up the vacuum with self, but in those dark times of the soul, in the middle of the night when we are alone and having to face ourselves, we know that there is something more. We yearn to feel loved ~ to feel something more than we feel now. There is an emptiness somewhere in the middle of our souls. We long for an unnamed something to give us comfort. There is good news: we can know that Love. (1 John 4:8) He can fill the chasm of our loneliness.
As humans, we also long to feel safe. There is that calm that comes when you walk into the sanctuary of your own home after a horrific day and are met with the merciful silence. It is the feeling of security you get when someone you love holds you. You can relax, let down your guard, exhale. Only in my relationship with Christ am I able to find that sense of peace without any bothersome little reservations in the back of my mind. A home is only a shelter and will inevitably develop problems; all human relationships are subject to glitches and difficult patches. Yet, with God, I never need to fear that He is anywhere other than on my side.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:18,19)
Today, let us take a minute to shut off the voices in our heads urging us to do something, be somewhere, fix this or that. Let’s just pause to let ourselves feel safe in the knowledge that I am my Beloved’s and He is mine (Song of Solomon 6:3); that He is the Love that will not let me go. (Romans 8:39)