Believing You are Lavishly Loved

infinityContinued from here.

Because of my childhood abuse, I had intense self-loathing. I have always been “different” and never felt like I fit in anywhere. I lived most of my life feeling unseen, unheard, and unloved. All of this changed when I chose to believe that God loves me. You might know in your head that God loves you, but you need to embrace that love in your heart. You need to know in the marrow of your bones that God deeply, richly, and profoundly loves you. Until you do, you will never accomplish His purpose and plan for your life.

As silly as this may sound, one tool I used to embrace this truth was to look myself in the eye in the mirror and say, “You are loved.” This was very difficult for me to do because I did not believe it. I did not believe I was worth loving, and I did not believe that anyone who actually knew the “real me” could possibly love me … but I was wrong. Nobody knows me better than God does, and yet He loves me more than anyone else does.

God actually UNDERSTANDS me – something I cannot even say about myself! I do things all that time that make no sense, even to myself. While I am baffled by my own behavior and choices, God is not. He knows exactly why I do the things that I do, what broke me to drive me to behave in that way, and the specific steps I need to take to change. I have learned through many years of experience that I am incapable of changing myself. Only God’s love can do that, but I’m not going to tap into that power if I don’t believe that it’s mine to receive.

I challenge you to enter into a season of receiving God’s love. Meditate on Bible verses that talk about His unfailing love. Spend time with Him in which you do nothing but receive His love. Fill up with it. Drink deeply from the well of living water. It will change your life!

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace behind an infinity sign, saying, “I love you X infinity.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Channeling God’s Love to Others

love_mostContinued from here.

One of the most profound lessons God taught me in my journey to forgiving others is that He provides the love for those who have wronged me. It took me a long time to forgive some of the people in my life because I had been so deeply wounded. When it was time for me to interact with these people, I feared how I might feel being around them again. I knew I had forgiven them, but I didn’t “feel love” for them. So, I spent hours in prayer, praise, and worship to fill up with God’s love before the interaction. I was blown away by God’s ability to love them through me.

While I had no love in my heart for them, God had ample love for them because Jesus died for them, too. If they only knew how deeply God loved them, they would not have behaved toward me in the way that they did. It felt like God turned on a firehose of love that coursed through me. I didn’t have to contribute any love from my heart – it all came from God. Not only did these people receive God’s lavish love through me, but I also got to experience God’s love in a much richer way because it flowed through me before reaching them. Thus, not only did forgiving those who wronged me bring me healing: it also brought me a deeper sense of love and joy!

This dynamic is particularly true in marriage. No matter how broken your marriage is, God can fill you with His love for your spouse. You don’t have to bring an ounce of love to the table. Perhaps your marriage has been dead for years. God can breathe life into the dry bones of your marriage. What resurrects a dead marriage is love – God’s love – because God loves your spouse enough to sacrifice Jesus for him or her. If your spouse truly understood the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for him or her, the behavior that killed your marriage would change.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of love flowing out of Grace’s chest with the words, “Love you the most.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God’s Love is Unfailing

foreverContinued from here.

Most people – even Christians – buy into the lie that love is limited. Beth Moore worded it this way: It’s like we carry around an empty cup, begging the people in our lives to spare us even a few drops of love, when we have an ocean of love right in front of us if we will only open our eyes to see it. The Bible is filled with passages about God’s love for us, such as…

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love. ~ Ps. 147:10-11

God’s love is unfailing! I don’t need to beg a few drops of your love to get by in my life. All I need to do it hold my empty cup out and let the waterfall of God’s unfailing love pour so much love into my little cup that His love spills out all over the place – onto everyone I encounter as I go about my day.

This is the secret to what healed my marriage, my heartbreak over the childhood abuse, my inclination to fear and worry, and every other negative aspect of my life. I have learned how to hold my cup in God’s waterfall of love so my need for love is lavishly met – not merely enough to get by but in such abundance that I have excess to share with everyone I interact with throughout my day.

I have learned that if I am feeling snippy with someone else, then I have disconnected from the Vine. God’s love is unending. As long as I am connected to Him, I have more than enough love to pour into everyone around me, even the high maintenance ones. As soon as I get the sense that I have a shortage of love to share, I know that I have disconnected from the Vine and need to hold my cup under the waterfall of God’s lavish love. He is more than enough.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing by a tree with “Me + U 4ever” carved into it. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Written on My Heart

Continued from here.

I am a fan of KLOVE’s new KLOVE Classics radio station, so I have been listening to a lot of Christian oldies. What a blessing! One of my favorites is Plus One’s Written on My Heart. I invite you to listen to the song, paying particular attention to the lyrics:

I love this song because it tells my story. I particularly love these lyrics:

You were waiting all the time
For me to come around and finally see
The love I was missing
There you were right beside me
Always beside me

I spent decades crying out to God, sobbing over the lack of love in my life. I felt unseen, unheard, and unappreciated. And the entire time I was begging God for love, I was actually surrounded by love, but I couldn’t sense it because I was asleep to it. I did not believe that God really loved me, even though the Bible is one big love letter of God reaching out to His people again and again in love. I only saw my brokenness. I was blind to the love.

How might your life be different if you actually took God at His word that He loves you? Not only that He loves you but that He LAVISHLY loves you? How might that change how you view yourself? How you treat other people? How you spend your time? Your perspective about the past, present, and future?

For me, the transformation was profound. I first believed and embraced that God loves me in March 2013. By Fall 2013, multiple people had commented upon how different I had become. I had been leading Bible studies through my church for years, but there was something different in me after that season, and that difference transformed my small groups. The difference was God’s love – I really, truly embraced His love, which profoundly changed me.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Plus One video. Courtesy YouTube.]

 

You are Loved

lovedIf you only ever hear one message from this blog, I hope it will be how deeply you are loved. If Christians really believed this about themselves, they would be transformed, and the overflow of that love would transform the world!

I lived most of my life as a Christian who did not believe she was loved. I actually believed that my salvation was an “add on.” I believed that Jesus died for other people, and since he was doing it, anyhow, it was no sweat off his back to throw me into the mix. A few years ago, God convicted me and made me see that even if I was the only person who ever received Jesus’ gift of salvation, he would have made the same choice. His sacrifice was very personal for me, and it was very personal for you. You were chosen because you are deeply loved.

On her television program Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer made a profound statement that has helped me with forgiving others. She pointed out that people behave badly because they do not appreciate the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for them. If they really understood it, then they would not behave as they do. Praying for someone to see the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for them is something I can always pray sincerely, no matter how heinous someone’s acts are. For example, this is my prayer for the school shooters that have been in the news over the last year. If they really understood how deeply they are loved, they would not have done what they did.

The Bible says that God loves us lavishly – LAVISHLY! God IS love, and He is unending. Thus, we are loved without limits because God has no limits. Anyone who truly embraces this truth steps into a path of transformation and profound healing from all of their emotional pain.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling with a heart by her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God Knows More Than My Name

u_get_meA recurring theme in Contemporary Christian music is that God knows my name. Whenever I hear that lyric, I think, “Thank goodness that’s not all He knows!”

For people who feel disconnected from God, I’m guessing it’s reassuring to hear that God knows your name. However, I think about the many people whose names I know but who I don’t know a thing about other than what the tabloids tell me, much of which is likely untrue. And then the things that really matter about those people aren’t going to make it into the tabloids. Only their closest friends will know the information that really matters, and some of the most important information might not even be shared with them. So, yeah, I know their names, but I don’t know them.

Contrast this with the knowledge that God has of you:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

Even I don’t know how many hairs I have on my own head, but God does. That’s a level of caring that I don’t even have about myself!

Yes, I love that God knows my name, but I love even more that He understands the way I tick, which is something I don’t fully understand myself. Thanks to the child abuse, my brain developed differently from a “normal” brain, causing me to react differently than other people to particular stimuli. As I have healed from the child abuse, I have grown to understand some of my triggers (thanks to flashbacks), but others continue to perplex me. However, God is not perplexed. He knows exactly why I think and do what I think and do, and He loves me through it all.

I love that I have a God who knows me intimately … who knows where I have been, am now, and where I am going … who knows exactly what I need … who completely understands my peculiarities that I don’t understand about myself … and who loves me completely exactly as I am, even knowing me that intimately. Love like that is transforming and runs far deeper than simply knowing my name.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with her hands on her heart below the words, “U Get Me.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Four Fundamental Beliefs: God Loves You

lovedContinued from here.

The most important fundamental belief is that God loves you. I know you know this, but do you truly believe this in the marrow of your bones? I didn’t until 2013, even though I received Jesus as my Savior when I was eight years old. I sang the song Jesus Loves Me in Sunday School. I could recite John 3:16 at the age of nine. I was leading Bible studies in my church for years, but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I did not really believe that God loves me.

Receiving the reality of God’s lavish love for you transforms you in powerful ways. When I started tithing the first hour of my day to God, the first thing that God did was bathe me in His love. I was on a “God high” for months because God’s love is simply that transforming. Truly digesting the reality of how much God loves me made all the difference.

Before I truly believed that God loves me, I believed that I was fundamentally unlovable. I would have nightmares about my inner child that repulsed me. In one of them, I saw this disgustingly ugly baby alone in a dark warehouse, and I knew it was me. I forced myself to hug the child, and it started screaming. That’s the level of self-loathing I suffered for most of my life, and this is a common aftereffect of childhood abuse.

I used to believe that Jesus died for everyone else and that I was just an “add on.” Since Jesus was already dying for others (who I thought were loveable), he let me tack on to what he was already doing to save me as well. I believed that he didn’t really love me in the same way as he loves everyone else. I was the stray dog he took pity on since he was already making the sacrifice for others.

God placed heavily on my heart that He loves ME. If I was the only person who would ever have received Jesus’ gift, he would have made the same choice for ME. This was very difficult for me to accept because of my deep-seated self-loathing, but God was relentless in driving home this point: “I love YOU!! I died for YOU!! I value YOU!!

Receiving and believing this truth transformed me in powerful ways. I am not the same person as I was pre-March 2013, and the primary reason is that I chose to believe God’s love for me. His love is THAT powerful.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with a heart above her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]