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Posts Tagged ‘unconditional love’

One of my gifts and curses in life is being able to talk my way out of things. I was the student who charmed her way through skipping class, handing in homework late, or getting a teacher off track. Let’s be honest, school got in the way of my social life.

I was also the daughter who negotiated curfews and side stepped punishments. My mom is northern New Jersey to the core. She doesn’t mess around when it comes to bringing the mom voice. I was known for pushing the limits and amending her instructions. Every time I knowingly crossed the parental guidelines I knew the voice was coming, but so were my speeches.

Driving home late past curfew or going to someplace I wasn’t supposed to, I would rehearse a readied speeches. She called it disrespect, I called it creative rebuttals.

This is one way I identify with the Prodigal son. The life of responsibility and tending to dad’s farm was getting in the way of his social life. The prodigal packed his bags, and with dad’s inheritance check in hand, he set out in search of meaning. It wasn’t too long before the inheritance dried up and he found himself alone.

When the voices of false advertising grow silent the reality of our spirit of poverty is made known.

When the Prodigal found himself alone with nothing, scripture states that, “he began to be in need.” Sobering truth and awareness was the process for this Prodigal. Filled with shame and humility, he decided to go home.

Knowing the Prodigal had lost so much of himself, his family, and his life, as he headed home he began to rehearse a speech; Father, I have sinned against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired hands.”

The father sees his son like a mirage walking down the road, and takes off. He throws his arms around the Prodigal and lavishes him with love, a robe, and celebration of renewed son ship. The Prodigal didn’t even get to finish his speech.

I look at this speech and see how much I rehearse the same one for God. I struggle to know love that is unconditional. I feel like I battle knowing love that doesn’t hold try-outs.

I still have speeches. If I’m being most honest, I still think the father’s love depends on my earned efforts. I will even go so far as to punish myself even when grace and love are extended.

I wish I could see a follow-up to the Prodigal story. I wonder if the Prodigal still rehearsed persuasive speeches for the father’s love after that day. I wonder if he still tried to earn love even though his father covered him with grace and forgiveness. Broken relationships take rebuilding, but that does not affect love, or at least it shouldn’t.

I would love to know your thoughts and responses to the Prodigal story.

Do you write speeches for God?

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I have a marinating heart. I love those times when words, phrases, lyrics, and great sentences stick with me. The content of what my heart is thinking about often has a bearing on the lenses through which I see.

Recently, my heart has been marinating on the book Soul Cravings, by Erwin McManus. It is just a good book on the topic of love.

Love is a hard issue I struggle with daily.

I struggle with wrapping my heart around unconditional love and what love for me looks like. I have known the wounds of conditional love. If I am being most honest, my experiences with conditional love dictate most of my fears and responses.

McManus makes a great statement that I can’t seem to shake. He says “If God is love, it is maddening when we are running from God and yet searching for love.” (Seriously, read that again.)

We are all searching for love. Love is the most sought after topic. We search for what it looks and feels like. The media tries to capture love all the time. We are wired to know love.

In my attempts to understand love, I always circle back around to God.

I struggle with believing that love is for me– no conditions and no earnings. I search for love’s acceptance.

My foundational experiences of love are made up of conditions. It is so hard to sit in a love that doesn’t require anything from me.

Half of the battle to grasping love is understanding how we are wired to know it.

I predominately receive love the most by way of affection. I am not just referring to physical touch, although I do love me some hugs, but affectionate words as well.

I am challenging myself to think through messages of conditional love I have known through affection. The more challenging part has been then searching for the truth of what God’s affections for me look like.

My hope is for his truth to begin to replace the messages of conditional love I have on repeat in my heart.

The truth is that until I really know, or believe, in God’s love for me, I will be running from him, but ironically searching for him anyway.

What experiences have you had with conditional and unconditional love?

How are you wired to receive love?

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Love is one of those words that requires a lot, if not everything from the one giving it. Love is hoped for, depended on, risked and longed for. Love is so strong. There are so many songs and movies that try and capture the essence of love’s power. There will never be enough to say about love. There will never be enough time to capture its essence either.

Love is also conscious. Love requires everything we’ve got.

A couple of years ago, my counselor taught me a principle that has stuck with me. We were talking about commandments in the bible. He told me that we are given commandments because there are things that do not come natural to us. For example, we are not given the commandment to breathe because our body just does that naturally. We do not have to constantly tell our eyes to blink. They just do.

Love is a commandment given by God. Love is something that does not come natural to us.

I wish it did, but it doesn’t. This truth brings a whole new light to the famous verses in Corinthians about love. Love has a list because it’s not natural to do.

Love is a choice.

I am sadly realizing how many people do not choose love any more. There is a lie in our culture that says you don’t have to stay in the hard. You can love whenever and however it suits your needs. Our culture is moving away from the heart of the one who created love. We are moving away from the one who created us to know and share in love. Sadly, our world is running on the fiction of love.

We have reduced love to a fairytale feeling, and the pursuit of happy, not faithful.

The reality of love is that it’s hard work. It does take conscious effort. There are times where love seems to be overflowing and very easy, but for the most part it takes effort. This is where the commandment comes in. God knew that the hard is where our human side comes into play, and that we would need a commandment to keep at it.

Love is no matter what.

Love is all the time and no matter what. Love is committed and faithful no matter what. Love is selfless and sacrificial. Those two words alone require everything I’ve got. Lord knows I am not good at choosing either one.

Love is no matter what because God has proven to love me that way. God has shown me that love is all the time, committed, and faithful. He laid down his life to show me that love is selfless and sacrificial. I can’t believe that love like this applies to me.

What are the challenges of this commandment for you?

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Sometimes I just feel like I only have a voice shouting to God from a distance. Sometimes I just see through the lenses that are filled with wounds, scars, and sin. My jaded self-perception gets stuck on seeing the old me; the dirty and weighted down me. Sometimes I see a me that only seems to reflect the lies of being the “un-able.” Through those jaded lenses, I see a me that is un-lovable, un-ownable, and un-worthyable. Those are the “un-ables” in me.

I will admit that sometimes I only have the guts to yell out to God from a distance. I see the state of my heart and keep my distance. It’s in those times I have missed the reality of who Jesus really is.

Through reading the story of the Ten Leper’s, I see myself through the eyes of one.

Leper’s are the outcast and disgrace of a community. They are forced to live outside of the life and love of the “clean.” I find myself there so many times. My heart is messy.

One night, ten leper’s had a chance to connect with one who was not only clean, but one who could make them clean again. So they shouted from a distance, bringing the only thing left to bring, their voice. Jesus stopped, took time to meet them where they were. Jesus used his voice to make them well.

One man recognized his deep healing. One man recognized that Jesus’ voice made all things new in him. One man took that same voice used earlier from distance and knelt before Jesus. A voice redeemed. A shouting voice now spoke softly on it’s knees praising the salvation of a savior.

Jesus took one voice, who only knew worthiness only from a distance, and drew him close. Jesus only heard a voice of his beloved. Jesus only saw a man who was his child and worthy of healing.

I have been a voice begging and shouting from a distance. I have experienced times of only being able to see through fogged covered lenses. Jesus hears me, always, and invites me to himself. I have a choice to hear his voice and go on with my day, healed, but empty. I also have the choice to return to the voice of  my healer.

We have two choice: to either experience the healing or experience the healer.

Which will you choose?

Do you have the guts to call out?

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