If you have not already, I encourage you to read my post from last week before reading this one. Last week I shared my experience with opening up about not experiencing God’s love. I knew what I believed to be true but felt like an imposter because I did not feel like I had actually experienced these truths like other people had seemed to. I was asked a couple of key questions and encouraged you to ask yourself as well. What does it look like for God to love me? What do I think it should look like?
We can begin by looking at our relationships with others. When do I receive love from my husband or others that I trust? What does that look like?
When I pondered those questions and was truly honest with myself my answer revolved around performance. I am able to receive love from my close relationships when I think they are pleased with me. I am not saying that they think this way but this is what goes on in my mind. When they are happy and enjoying what I have done for them then they can enjoy me. The moment I do something wrong I immediately think the opposite becomes true. I take their unhappiness very personal. When this happens, either I become defensive and angry or I try to fix it and immediately start apologizing. So, am I truly receiving love from them even when everyone is happy & pleased? I do not think I can if I am solely basing it on my performance and actions.
When I equate giving and experiencing love with what I do for others then I am affecting my ability to actually experience the love they have for me and to offer them the love I truly have for them.
If my relationships with others are based on my performance then I see my relationship with God the same way. The way we view and interact with others reflects the way we view and interact with God. Therefore, if we perform for love with our close relationships with people, then we do the same with God. This truth bears an answer to my question of how I seek God’s love. For much of my life, my motive was attempting to earn love. I did not realize this, but it was something I felt I had control over since it was all up to me to earn. My flesh tells me I must perform well to be loved, and I bought that lie hook, line, and sinker. The sad result of that perspective was a lack of experiencing true love. I failed more than I succeeded in feeling like I performed well. It is so much work to please so many others and God. I can only do so much, and it was never enough. I do not have the energy to flip all the switches and keep all the lights burning. The best I could experience was a love that was conditional, as it was dependent upon my performance for Him and others. Sometimes I felt okay, most of the time I did not. In recent years, I have intentionally departed from that mindset. I have found myself saying “no” to things that I used to would have said “yes” to. Separating “working for Him” from “being loved by Him” has proven to be a struggle for me. Since deep down I still often tie love to performance, I have found myself frequently missing the experience of His deep love for me.
God tells us that His love is free and unconditional. It is not at all related to what I do. His love is there because of who He is and because of who I am in Christ. Wayne Jacobsen wrote a great book entitled He Loves Me. I have read it multiple times and am finding myself going through it again as I question what it looks like for God to love me. He says “But perception is not necessarily reality. If we define God only in our limited interpretation of our own circumstances, we will never discover who He really is.” He goes on to say, “God knows how difficult it is for us to accept His love, and He teaches us with more patience than we’ve ever known”.
Father, than you for your patience. Thank you for loving us even though we cannot comprehend it. Thank you for your love that is pure, true and unconditional. Father, show us how you love us intimately and personally. Help us experience it for what it is and not for what we sometimes think it is.
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