I have been thinking a lot lately about how important it is for me to believe with all my heart that God loves me during this most difficult time in my life. If you have been reading my blog posts lately, you know that since November I have experienced the death of my sister, the death of my marriage, the death of my dog and the death of my mother. In the middle of these losses, I left Bend and moved into my own house in Medford, Oregon. Then on January 13th I attended my sister’s memorial, and on February 26th I will be attending my mother’s funeral.
Since I moved to Medford, I have had plenty of opportunities to be alone and just sit, think, pray and read my Bible. What I have discovered in these times of solitude is that God’s love is more real to me than I have ever experienced in my entire life. I have found God’s love in the broken places of my heart.
I have not always been confident in God’s love for me. There were times when I endured financial setbacks, infertility, loneliness or pain, and I would feel abandoned by God. There were many times in my life when I felt God was withholding his favor from me while blessing others. I would try to serve God with all my heart and wonder why He didn’t bless me more than someone who paid no attention to him. I understand now that my love for God was fickle and conditional. God if you do this then that means you love me but if you do that then that means you don’t care.
Now I realize that it is vital to be confident in God’s love because without this confidence I will not be able to love God back.
Jesus says in Matthew 22:37
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Don’t you think this command of God would be impossible to carry out if you really don’t believe God loves you with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind?
Insecurity, lack of trust and fear are relationship killers. For a relationship to grow in love there must be trust.
1 John 3:1 says:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
The definition of lavish is to expend or give in great amounts or without limit.
Without this belief that God is generous and lavish with his love, my mind would be unprotected by Satan’s lies. Instead I would believe that I am not worthy to be loved, that life is unfair, that love is being withheld or that I’m being ignored by an uncaring God. Satan is the father of despair and hopelessness. God is the father of joy and encouragement.
Through the years I have come to discover that my relationship with my earthly father has perpetuated feelings of insecurity in my life, and I transferred these feelings toward my heavenly father. After the divorce of my parents when I was 8 years old, I spent a lifetime wishing to be near my dad and feeling insecure sometimes about his love for me. This basic need to be near my father was unmet in my life and produced so much insecurity in my relationship with God and others.
Because of this unmet need to be near my father, I have spent many years of my life unraveling the threads of fear, insecurity and doubt in my heart one thread at a time. With each meticulous separation of the next thread, I was on a quest to unravel a mystery. Why is it so hard for me to trust men? Why did it take me so long to love and accept myself? Why do I think I’m not worthy? Why do I rarely feel special or chosen? Why do I feel sometimes God is punishing me?
I have come to understand that my mother’s complicated relationship with her father ignited in her a desire to marry my rebellious father who also had a complicated relationship with his father. Because both of my parents had unmet needs in their lives largely due to the insecurity they felt with each of their fathers, it made it impossible for them to meet each other’s needs. Their divorce in turn propagated this feeling of insecurity into my heart at the age of 8 and made a tangled mess of my heart.
After my mother was married to my father for 11 years and could no longer turn a blind eye to his flirting and cheating with other women, she decided to remove herself and her children as far as she could from him. She moved us home to her parent’s flat on Eastwood street in Chicago when I was 8 years old, my sister was 6 and my brother was 10. My grandparents were co-parents with my mother for the next 10 years of my life. My mother did not want to co-parent her children with her parents. She wanted to co-parent with my father and have her own family unit and live happily ever after.
I spent the most formative years of my life witnessing the estrangement of my father from my grandparents and my mother. My father was not allowed to step one foot into our backyard, so he would honk the horn of his car to alert us that he was out in the alley ready to take us out for the day. I would run down the wooden switch back stairs of our 2-flat brick apartment building and open the gate of our cement backyard and ask my father for support money. He would reluctantly reach into his pocket and pull out a few bills from the wad of money that he kept together with a rubber band. I would then run back up the stairs and show my mother the bills in my hand, and she would look at them with disappointment but then reluctantly send us off to spend the day with him.
I spent 10 years running down those steps and opening that gate to greet my father and spend a weekend day with him with my siblings. Most of those visits with my father had to be shared with his new girlfriend or his new wife. One girlfriend became his wife twice. My father also would live in Fort Meyers, Florida every winter for about 5 months because his work was seasonal. His trade was tuck pointing, and all the brick buildings in Chicago provided plenty of work in non-winter months and allowed him to live a life of leisure in Florida in the winter months. But to me, the winter months meant that he was gone and inaccessible.
In 1983 my father married, Linda, the love of his life and stayed married to her for 25 years until his death in 2008. In 1976 my mother married Ed, whom she considered the love of her life and was married to him for 26 years until his death in 2002. My parents were able to find an enduring love that they were able to commit themselves to until death separated them from their spouse. This was healing for me. Love won. Fear lost.
But now I find myself in a most peculiar place in life. I use the word peculiar because I have never known what it is like to not have my sister, my mother and my husband in my life. I have never been this alone – ever. But am I really alone? Romans 8:32 says:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
All I must do is pick up the Bible and read the gospels and know without a doubt that God sparing his own Son, giving him up for us all is the greatest proof I could ever have of his love. Jesus agreed to suffer the worse kind of emotional, physical and spiritual pain so that I could have my sins forgiven and be near to God and go to heaven for eternity.
Do you think Jesus was confident of his father’s love when he was hanging on the cross feeling the worse kind of pain?
The Bible says in Mark 15:34 that while Jesus was gasping for air he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Since Jesus was taking on my sins, yours sins, the sins of the world, he was spiritually separated from God because God could not even look at Jesus for those painful moments he was on the cross. Jesus had to entrust himself to God and have confidence that his Father in heaven did love him and would rescue him from the grave and by his resurrection we too can have the promise of a resurrection also.
When I think of the sacrifice that Jesus made just so that I could be near my heavenly father, it erases all doubt that I am not loved or not worthy. Even though I did not have a father who was in my life every day when I was growing up, I do have a heavenly father who has sacrificed everything so I could be near Him.
I know without a doubt I am not alone, and I am so grateful to have confidence in my father’s love and it fuels a fire in me to love him back.