Take Courage, Love

Love

For some reason, writing words about my love for Jesus on a page is easier for me than writing about relationships with imperfect human beings. But that sentiment shouldn’t be a surprise, since God does not disappoint, flirt, creep me out, or lead me on. He is simply the best I could ever hope for and there is no imperfection in Him, but man and woman, oh boy, do we have problems.

One reason for my silence on the topic of relationships is that my experiences in that area are lacking, another reason is that I fear those experiences will never happen to me, so I prefer not to speak, and finally, there is the sad truth of how we, as human beings, are broken and unable to love perfectly; which guarantees that relationships will sometimes be ugly and confusing. Though I prefer silence, I have shared my thoughts on the subject of marriage and relationships in the presence of close friends, but that was hard in coming and even harder to express. So, on this page I will convey a naïve idea that has taken root in my head; that perhaps it is safer to write thoughts on a page than to speak them with my tongue, since my tongue can get tripped up and caught in a trap of floodgates opening up. On the page, it is safe to write, because I can filter, I can decide what will be seen and what will not; I am allowed to keep things bottled up. So, I will start with Knots, since it seems fitting to first untie what has been sitting and adversely affecting how I view love. (Disclaimer: Please do not be alarmed by what you read, but take it at face value; as a woman who desires to be content in her King, but gets caught up in what the world expects of her and what she thinks she needs, only to be caught back up in the arms of Jesus. God is so good! Amen!)

Knot today and knot tomorrow; tighter, it constricts the flow of air, making salt come from hopeless slits or only dry despair. What was yesterday is not forgotten. Though ill advised, it sits there, rotten, yet still all consuming. The nose is shut to truth, so I just keep swallowing. But within my stomach, it sits, tightening the knots; praying that hope exists. Oh, why do I obsess? I know these feelings lead to compromise, yet I still feel them, hoping that feelings are more than hormones and synapses misfiring. Right now, I just need a reason to live, and I cling to knots to bring life, instead of clinging to Jesus.

Not today and not tomorrow. Let me open up a bit. It has taken time to get over this, and to realize that I was just afraid and foolish. First, I must confess that I wanted you to like me. And when I saw the way you looked at me, I could halfway believe it. But since you didn’t call or say a word, I got to thinking; when you looked at me, did you just devour me with your eyes? Was that enough for you? You didn’t feel like granting me the courtesy of trading life for life? You just ate me up and left me hollow inside. It took a while to realize that you’re just like me; you want the joy, the feelings, without having to hold onto anything. But eventually you will come to the same conclusion that such pastimes will leave you empty; causing hearts to break and knot up, further burying the hope for love.

Knock today and knock tomorrow. So, with knots and no’s leading to empty memories, I bang on the door, crying to be released. Why should I live in this solitary prison cell, when life waits, and maybe even love as well? But I can’t find life or love when knots and no’s keep holding me up. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Something frightful, so be prepared. No need to stretch out the answer, cut to the quick. If you love me not, then I am healed. If you love me more, then I am sick. I am sick of silent love that eats me up from the inside out; tired of hoping for something that I have finally found. Will it be made a greater treasure through the waiting? No doubt. But the present pain drowns me in the shame that I have yet to ask, “Do you love me?”

Hark! Here is the answer; listen close. While you have been drowning in knots and no’s, I AM still here, sitting on My thrown. I have not rejected you, nor have I left. I AM not dumb, nor AM I deaf. My answer comes from Words of truth and from My Holy Spirit within you. From your prison cell, I set you free, because nothing has dominion over thee. You are Mine and I AM yours; I AM faithful, I AM pure. And I AM making you just like Me, because I love you and I AM all you need. Yes, the world will draw you to doubt and seek after things that make you drown, but I AM come that you might have life, and life more abundant. Rise, daughter of Mine; cast off your cares and rest in My arms. I have always been there and always will be. So whether or not a son of Mine ever loves thee, I loved you first, I love you best, and in My love, you have true joy and rest.

In the moment of the revelation of love, it is hard to consent to the truth that God is enough no matter how I feel here on earth. But the constant affirmation of love and devotion that are spelled out in Scripture and in creation leave behind an undeniable impression that I am known and I am saved. Yet I still struggle sometimes with the reality (and maybe you are just like me), that I am a single heart, a lonely human, looking for love, but never being found in it. In this struggle I often find myself trapped in, God always sows this seed of truth: believe it or not, your world is not ending, it is simply unraveling to show you a better way; a way forgotten by the world and even by some who follow the Lord. The truth remains that God is all I need and He remains faithful no matter what I feel or see; I only need seek Him.

Let me tell you another truth as a late introduction; love between a man and a woman is not something you “find,” it is something you refine and work on for your whole life. “Finding” someone is not the same as “knowing” them, but it is possible to find a treasure and sell all that you have in order to secure that treasure for yourself (Matthew 13:44). The process of laying down one’s self for another is the very definition of what love means. Love at first sight, with no personal cost or laying down of self? Whatever. Love for an entire life, where self is sacrificed for the sake of another? I have seen it, but it keeps getting rarer and rarer.

The world’s formula for love just isn’t working; the formula being, “I love you, you love me; we’re a happy family…” Of course, that is a children’s rhyme, but it strangely seems to be a motto people live by. “As long as you love me and as long as I love you, we will live happily ever after.” But what, exactly, would stop love from staying true? It might be best to state the reasons in the wedding vows: “I will love you IF; you don’t track mud into the house; you don’t ask me to do the dishes or any chores; you do all the cooking; you share the responsibility of cooking; you like dogs, cats, and any furry creature that needs a home; I can sit on our furniture wearing greasy clothes; your breath never stinks; you don’t snore; you do the laundry; we never have to move; you always make a lot of money; you are never sad, angry, or frustrated”… The “wedding-vows-plus-exceptions” would essentially never end, and it seems unfortunately necessary for some people to speak forth those exceptions, because they are already thinking them in their head. Once the exceptions are said, then the one being spoken to may walk off their pedestal and say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” No one is perfect, and yet perfection is expected, and is it really a surprise when the idol of perfection is trampled in the dust of disappointment? So many people may have been spared scars and hardships if only both sides had stated their expectations before the covenant. In fact, honesty may keep some people from ever getting married, but it also may just postpone marriage until they grow up and discover what love really means.

What love really means…

If a marriage were based on Biblical principles, following the example of Christ’s love, then the wedding vows would, in their simplest form, look like this: the groom would say, “I will seek to love you as Christ loves the Church, and no matter what you do and what happens in life, I will never stop pursuing you and encouraging you to grow closer to Jesus;” and the bride would say, “I will seek to love you as the Church loves Christ, and no matter what you do and what happens in life, I will never stop pursuing you and encouraging you to grow closer to Jesus.” The Christian wedding vows would be more detailed than that in principle, but the truth is that the details would be in the heart and mind of the speaker. Some details can be found in Ephesians 5, but the greater context comes through overall knowledge of the Words of God.

A man and woman after God’s own heart would know that pursuit often means sacrifice of self, and love guarantees loss, but growing closer to Jesus and encouraging your spouse to grow closer to Him is worth the price. The wedding vows in general are not simply a declaration of how you feel right now, but a declaration of love that will remain, even when you don’t feel like staying. Strangely, that concept seems to have been forgotten in the wedding vows and by those who speak those words. They don’t realize that a marriage covenant should not be broken when you don’t feel like you love your spouse anymore. The covenant only comes into effect when you don’t feel like you love your spouse; that is the real test of love and marriage, where you choose to stick with your husband or wife and choose to show love to them even when you don’t feel like it.

Love between a man and a woman is something that must be worked on; both must strive to love one another and neither can love perfectly. But with Christ at the center of a relationship or marriage, the challenges and difficulties of that relationship are put into perspective, where both understand how God loves them in spite of their differences and failures. When put in that light, relationships do not seem so complicated. That does not mean they don’t sound difficult, but difficulty does not have to be ugly or sad, especially when you face it with Jesus before you and your spouse (or possible spouse) beside you. In that kind of environment, in that kind of relationship, faith would increase and ministry would grow.

Love between an individual and God also must be worked on, but only on one side. Jesus already loves perfectly and makes no mistakes in how He cares for those who call upon His name, but those who have believed on Him must strive to love Him even more. It is not that life is made simpler when love for God increases, but life is put into perspective, where the burdens of life are lifted, because the lover of our souls carries the greatest burden and will bring us into His kingdom if we endure until the end. With greater love of God comes greater hope and purpose in this life. And since God is the perfect example of love and the perfect giver of love, His having the preeminence in the hearts of His children, whether they are married or not, will enable them to show love that is genuine and long-lasting.

Though my earthly experiences in dating and marriage relationships are limited or non-existent, the greatest experience I could ever draw from is my relationship with Christ and what He has revealed to me through His Word and through His Holy Spirit in my life. And every living soul desperately needs the experience that comes through seeking and following Jesus. It is not just that God gives wisdom in marriage relationships, but in every relationship; He redeems those stuck in life and/or stuck in their sins; He opens up blinded eyes, giving them discernment between truth and lies; and He draws His children into His arms, promising them an eternity with Him in His Kingdom. So, if you want to have a great friendship, relationship, and/or marriage, then the first and daily step is to seek Christ and follow Him.

Trying to unlearn the lies I have been fed is a process that is long and arduous. There are times when I am still confused about love, singleness, and where God has called me. In those times, I pray and process through my tangled dreams, but I always reach the conclusion that Jesus is enough for me. In every song I write, every poem, and every blog post, the ultimate conclusion is that Jesus has the victory; and He should therefore have the preeminence in my life, no matter how I feel or what I think.

It is hard to express the inner workings of this heart of mine. My feelings are a mess, and the rhyme or reason is hard to define. I long for home and comfort, yet I hunger for change. I want to love and be loved, yet I am afraid. I do not know what change I need, only that it will probably never come to me. I do not know why I am afraid, but my fear closes the door and leaves words unsaid.

My MazeIt is like I am stuck in a maze with no beginning or end, only walls that look exactly the same. Why do I walk through it, why do I run, when every turn leads me to where I began?

After the fear and desire for change wears off, there is a nagging fear of nothing being enough. No change could satisfy this desire or lust. No man could possibly measure up. I have set down an impossible standard that will only serve to feed my fear and doubt. I have built the maze that now surrounds me, but all I want is for it to come tumbling down.

I tied a red cord at the window of my heart; Jesus saw the sign and now abides in me, but I have locked the door behind Him and thrown away the key. May He find the key and open this heart for the one Who loves Him, loves me, and will keep his promise “to have and to hold till death do us part.” I cannot discern his face or name, because I am too afraid, too set in my ways, and unaccustomed to change. I ask You, Jesus, to open my eyes at just the right time, to see the face of the one I will love for the rest of my life… I am impatient, this You know, but help me to endure, being pure and white as snow.

You are the first and greatest lover of my soul. I know that You provide and You alone make me whole. I love You more than words can express, because You love me, call me precious, and give me Your rest.

Amen.

Through looking at marriages and relationships from the outside, I can discern what works and what does not, but in the moment, it may be hard to choose the right, unless the brain and heart were programmed before the paper was signed. So, you could say that’s what I’m doing right now, trying to reprogram myself. However, my efforts in that regard are weak compared to what Christ is doing in me; He does all the work, I just pray and believe. And He can do the same for you.

For all that you have read, and all that you now know, I pray that it will encourage the knots in your heart to let go, and encourage you to pursue Christ, whether you have someone to walk alongside or not.

Here is the final message for you as well as for me; love Christ and trust Him; He has a plan, though you can’t see it yet. You may be “alone” right now from a human perspective, but Jesus knows your heart, loves you deeply, desires the best for you, and holds you close, even if you can’t feel Him. He is teaching you patience and how to recognize true love. He is teaching you to be a man or woman after His heart. You must make a decision right now, that even when you are desperate, vulnerable, and afraid, you never settle. Do not let fear of being alone cause you to stumble into a relationship that makes you wish you were alone. Fear should never be a motivation for love, since perfect love casts out fear.

If you are a man or woman after God’s heart and wholly seek His Way, there is no room to be afraid to love. God loved us before we loved Him, and He called us to love our brothers and sisters in the faith and those still lost in their ways. I am not telling you to give your heart to an unbeliever or even to one who seeks after Christ, I am asking and imploring that you give your heart to Jesus and let Him love through you in truth, power, and purity. Maybe someday there will be cause for your love to change from friends in Christ to “As Christ loves the Church” and “As the Church loves Christ,” but until that day and after that day, trust in Jesus, and take courage, Love.

Take courage, love.

“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

By God’s grace, I am growing, and here is a little illustration of that:
A year ago, I published a post out of frustration with myself (Of Dreams and Diamonds), but I see today’s post as a marker of where God has brought me. God is just so awesome in how He works! It is a blessed relief to see Him working. Truly, fellowship with my King is sweet and He is faithful to the end! Amen!

Advertisements

One thought on “Take Courage, Love”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s