Living loved, Uncategorized

When We Can’t Feel God’s Love

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For a long time, my view of God and His love was skewed. If you’d asked, I probably would’ve provided an accurate description. I would’ve talked about how merciful and gentle He was, how faithful He was to remain beside us, and how He’d stop at nothing, even His own death, to draw us close.

But I lived as if He placed conditions on His affection, as if He somehow loved me more when I behaved or served Him in a certain way but grew weary of me when I messed up.

One year, a friend invited me to a women’s retreat, my first ever. I was crazy-nervous about going. It hadn’t been all that long since my oh-so-glamorous homeless period, and I was lugging around a heavy load of shame and self-loathing. In short, I felt I didn’t belong.

I didn’t want to go. The whole event felt far too intimate for a gal who plotted ways to remain in hiding. But I sensed God wanted to do something amazing and miraculous. So I packed my bags and headed to a monastery in Santa Barbara, where our retreat was held.

The first night, our leader read the account of the Samaritan woman, and Jesus invitation to her gripped me. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). He was inviting her to receive salvation, yes, but His invitation involved so much more than that. He was drawing her into an intimate, completely authentic, relationship with Himself.

The next morning, I went for a long run, processing everything from the night before. I, too, wanted to be filled, but I felt so empty, and I couldn’t understand why. I belonged to Jesus and had trusted Him for my eternal salvation. So why wasn’t my heart like a bubbling spring that welled up with eternal life?

After my run, still needing time alone, I walked the monastery grounds, hoping to hear from God.

Nothing. No words of assurance from heaven or comforting whispers to my wounded heart. Frustrated, I cried out, “Why won’t You love me?!”

His response, though not audible, came swift and clear: “You won’t let Me.”

That stunned and confused me, and I spent the next six months or so prayerfully trying to figure out what God meant. He showed me that my disconnect came not from Him but from within me. My failure to grasp the depths of His love, my continual expectation of rejection, and past wounds that left me closed in and fearful, hindered my ability to fully experience Him. I was approaching Him through a lens of hurt instead of one of grace and truth.

I realized I needed to learn how to give and receive love, and so I asked Him to teach me. Over the next ten years or so, that’s precisely what He did. He slowly but steadily healed my heart, removed my distrust, and replaced all the lies I’d melded with truth.

Truth like:

God is love (1 John 4:8), and His love is eternal (Psalm 136:1b). It doesn’t increase when I return it or God's love is constant on an image with a heart locketdecrease when I push Him away. Nothing, not “death or life or angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation” (Romans 8:38-39) can separate me from His love. He loved me when I was at my worst (Romans 5:8) and will love me when I’m at my best. His love isn’t dependent on my actions nor how I feel, and He has no favorites (Romans 2:11).

That means He loves me, and you, as much as He loved the apostle Paul, who planted numerous churches and wrote a chunk of the New Testament. He loves me, and you, as much as He loves all the saints who’ve given their life for Him and the gospel. He loves me, and you, as much, and no more, than the alcoholic on the street corner and the sweet Sunday school teacher who’s never had a drop of wine.

Because His love doesn’t depend on us. The next time you’re struggling to rest in God’s love, hit pause. Ask Him to show you the cause of your disconnect and the lies you’ve embraced. Ask Him to help you replace them with truth. Ask Him to remind you of His truth again and again until it permeates your every thought, until His truth speaks louder than your deception.

Let’s talk about this! Do you ever struggle to rest in God’s love, and if so, why do you think that is? Have you ever asked God to show you the root cause behind your disconnect? What are some Scripture passages that can help, the next time you feel discarded, rejected, or perhaps unworthy of God’s affection? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook.

Before you go, I have fun news. We’ve released their next Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

Faith, Living loved

The Unshakable Security of Christ’s Love

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Jesus should’ve given up on me long ago. I gave up on myself, especially during my teen years, when I spent more time drunk than sober, and filled with enough anger to emotionally combust.

But each day, God pursued me and lovingly drew me until, eventually, His gentle and persistent love soothed my inner angst and healed the hurt it came from. He always offers us more grace and patience than we’d ever offer ourselves, and His staying power far exceeds ours. I know this, but in moments of doubt or discouragement, or when my pride wins out over obedience, I can easily forget.

God's love for me is based on who He is, not what I've done, and my salvation rests on what He's done, not what I haven't. Click To Tweet

In Christ, I am held secure.

I never fully understood God’s heart for me, and the power and strength emerging from it, until I became a parent. But having walked beside my daughter through nearly a lifetime of good, bad, the obedient, and at times, flat-out rebellious, I’ve caught a better, deeper, picture of my Father’s heart—a heart that never lets go, never gives up, and will in no way ever turn away.

When our daughter was seven or eight, we moved across the country from Southern California to Bossier City, Louisiana, a transition she struggled with. Though initially, we were oblivious to her pain—seven-year-olds aren’t often able to express their emotions—we soon became alert to a drastic change of behavior. Our normally cheerful, affectionate little girl had become sullen and angry.

I was confused and concerned.

One afternoon, she grew quite upset with me (for reasons I can’t remember), shouted, “I hate you!” and slammed her bedroom door.

That was the first, and perhaps last, time she’d ever said something like that to me, and it broke my heart. But not for the reasons you may assume.

My heart broke because I knew hers was breaking. Beneath her anger and harsh words, I saw her pain, and in that moment, what I longed for most was to draw her near and hold her close.

Throughout my faith journey, I’ve displayed a similar response toward God as she had to me, numerous times. Like when my friend was dying, and I struggled to reconcile my circumstances with what I knew regarding God’s love, power, and sovereignty. Once my emotions settled down, guilt and fear followed. Had my anger angered God?

Had I—or would I—do something that would drive Him away for good?

But each time, not only did He remain. But He took giant, loving steps toward me.

God holds me secure, and His love will always remain. Unshakable. Immovable. Solid and sure. Click To Tweet
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How securely are your feet planted in grace? When doubts and insecurities arise regarding God’s heart for you, how might pausing to remember who He is, rather than what you have or haven’t done, help you rest in His embrace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

For those wanting to learn how to more fully embrace their Christ-centered identity and rest in His grace, grab a free copy of our study, Becoming His Princess. You can do so HERE. And make sure to join us for one of our upcoming Fully Alive conferences to learn how to connect on a deeper level with your Savior and live vibrantly alive in every moment. Find out more and how to register HERE. Want us to join you for your next women’s event? Contact us for more information or to schedule a time to chat by phone HERE.

 

 

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Showing love

Living Out God’s Crazy Love

I hope someone has told you how crazy you are or recently given you a baffled look. There’s no doubt that we live in a society overrun with comparison and consumed by peer opinion. But Christian, what people say of us shouldn’t fit the mold. As the public watches us live for God’s glory, they should see a bit of crazy.

As I read through 1st and 2nd Corinthians my heart was curious what Paul’s audience thought of his actions inspired by God.

I wonder if they were shaken that Paul would endure beatings and imprisonments for the sake of the gospel. Perhaps they thought he was a little strange choosing to be a nomad, walking the globe, telling people about Jesus. Did they think he was wrong for preaching love and faith in a time of persecution?

Paul hints that the Corinthians couldn’t quite understand such a bold and divinely purposed way of life. Image of a laughing woman with verse 2 Cor. 5:13He wrote, “If we are out of our mind it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you” (2 Corinthians 5:13 NIV).

If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for?

If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for?

This hits a chord in my heart. How many times have I sought the world’s good opinion instead of my Father’s—sought my glory instead of His? If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for? Whose purposes am I seeking? But if our lives look strangely different than the world in a faith-filled, exhilarating, divinely loving, powerfully reaching kind of way; perhaps it is a glimmer that we are living for God’s sake instead of our own.

Seeming ‘out of our mind’ to the world is a small price to pay for living out divine love in Christ. But that leaves the question of ‘Why?’ I think the Corinthians were wondering the same about Paul and his gang. What in the world would make mere men live so boldly?

Paul explained to them, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV).

Knowing the depth of God’s love has the power to change a person. When you understand that God loved you enough to jump in front of the death train for you, it gives your life importance.

When you understand that God loved you enough to jump in front of the death train for you, it gives your life importance.

As we let the truth of the cross and the love of Christ permeate to the hidden parts of our soul, we can’t help but have a new perspective on what is important in life. When you understand that God loved you enough to exchange His life for yours, it gives your life importance. And that importance gives way to a new purpose—to live extravagantly for the one who took your place. This is not out of obligation, but out of complete and utter thankfulness and joy as we live in such a love.

Paul puts it another way saying, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58 NIV).

We handed God our sin and death, and in return he showered us in victory and life! And Paul says in thankfulness of that amazing and undeserved switch taking us from the losing team to the winning team, we know that every battle we sweat in the name of Jesus on this earth will be victorious. And that makes us bold. It makes us act a little different.

Living in Christ’s unconditional love helps us live out life-changing love to others.

His love urges us to forgive instead of condemn, encourage when we see sorrow, keep peaceful words on our lips when attacked, and speak truth in love when it’s hard. It makes us desire to live for others like Christ lived for us.

It makes us want to live a bit ‘out of our mind’ for Christ knowing our purpose is found in Him and not in the opinions of this world.

Let’s talk about this. How do you see your life choices changing as you know Jesus more and more?

What do you feel He is asking you to do in response to His love for you even if it might look crazy to the people around you? Join the conversation here in the comments below or on our Facebook page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another! And make sure to join us for one of Wholly Loved’s upcoming conferences. Explore how you are wholly loved, purposed, and unique in Christ and how knowing that empowers you to be bold and brave in His name! Find out more HERE.

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