“God’s love being unchangeable, He is just as loving when we do not see or feel His love…” (Havergal, 77)
Love. It is one of the most misunderstood words. Some might consider love to be a sappy, weak or feminine emotion. Others might consider it a seductive feeling, intimacy, or attraction. Lately, I’ve been learning what love is. Some might define love as a very deep, complex, beautiful action not really related to emotion at all.
I guess I began learning several Autumns ago, when I was confused, searching and needy. I’d like to share this diary entry.
October 17, 2011
“I rob myself of my joy when my mind is completely consumed with other things than Him. I have lately desired marriage. That is not a bad thing. But when I am most content is when Christ is my all – then I do not experience the “need” to be courting or married. Even my dear friend in her last letter mentioned how the Lord is having to teach her joy. And she is courting! Even when our desires are fulfilled we still need Christ just as much.
I must fall in love with Christ in order to keep my yearnings at bay. I will feel accepted and loved if I allow Christ to fill my need.
I have felt slightly unappreciated lately. Not really…needed. I feel like no-one would be put out if I was gone. I know they would miss the things I do (chores) because they would have to do them, but they wouldn’t miss me, as a person. I know that is untrue, because I know I add to the family’s “make up” whether that’s a good thing or not… :) Everyone is used to me being here, so if I was gone the familiarity of my presence would most likely be missed. But would I, as a person?
For example, Dad cannot live without mom. He must have some contact with her or he suffers. She is needed. Desperately. Someone needs her. For who she is, not just what she gives. Her value is in who she is to Dad, his wife, not the fact that she does his laundry, cheerfully keeps the home, gives birth to his children, etc. He would give anything for her, even his life.
Does anyone need me? Am I important to anyone? Does anyone feel the same way about me?
At first thought, or without much thought at all, I would reply, no. Not even my parents need me. Dad’s need for love is met by Mom. Mom’s yearning for love, protection, acceptance, is met by Dad. My parents love me, but their love is not adequate for the yearning in my heart. My family loves me, but it doesn’t even come close to filling the vast void I have. The closest people given to be mine are not enough.
This is why being loved in a different way seems so attractive. The feeling that someone could possibly be attracted to you in some other way than “just a friend” is exciting. It seems they need you. Not for what I do, but for who I am. They seem to admire me, my personality. They care how I feel, what I think of them. My feelings are important. They care. I have not given a thing to them, and yet, they still like me, even want to know me better. They wouldn’t consider it a sacrifice to spend time with me, they enjoy me, I am important to them.
What a danger. And I know it is and still desire to be tempted. I am evil. So very selfish. It isn’t love that desires to take, to accept such admiration. If I loved my brothers in Christ, I would protect their hearts by treating them as brothers, giving them no ideas otherwise. It is no wonder we young adults are controlled by our emotions. They are so terribly strong.”
I then read a quote by Hannah Whittal Smith that started a chang in my heart. I started to grasp what love really was.
“…if you have ever loved any earthly relation; if you have ever loved any of your fellow human beings enough to find sacrifice and service on their behalf a joy; if a whole-souled abandonment of your will to the will of another has ever gleamed across you as a blessed and longed-for privilege, or as a sweet and precious reality, then by all the tender longing love of your Heavenly Lover would I entreat you to let it be so towards Christ!
He loves you with more than the love of friendship. As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so does He rejoice over you, and nothing but the bride’s surrender will satisfy Him. He has given you all, and He asks for all in return. The slightest reserve will grieve Him to the heart. He spared not Himself, and how can you spare yourself? For your sake He poured out in a lavish abandonment all that He had, and for His sake you must pour out all that you have, without stint or measure.
Oh be generous in your self-surrender! Meet His measureless devotion for you with a measureless devotion to Him. Be glad and eager to throw yourself unreservedly into His loving arms, and to hand over the reins of government to Him. Whatever there is of you, let Him have it all. Give up forever everything that is separate from Him. Consent to resign, from this time forward, all liberty of choice, and glory in the blessed nearness of union which makes the enthusiasm of devotedness not only possible but necessary.”(Smith 218-219)
Here is what I wrote afterward --
“Someone does love me enough to adequately fill my heart’s yearning. Someone does want me. Someone loves me not for what I do, say, or look like; but loves me unselfishly, as a person. Someone cares to the utmost what I think, how I feel, what emotions I own. Someone cares! I have not given Him one thing that He did not already have. I haven’t given this Someone anything, and yet He still loves me. He would stop whatever to hear me. He wants to listen. I am important to Him. He would do anything for me…even if it was to suffer and die for me. Jesus. He is the only one capable of truly loving me. He never tires of me. He is more than enough to satisfy my need for love. He makes human love seem small compared. Someone loves me. I am needed, or He wouldn’t have created me. Why compromise my purity for a lowly “love” when I could have the best?
I would find His love satisfactory if I would accept it. I actually have to listen, spend time with Him, or then He doesn’t have the chance to demonstrate His love. Nothing, not even my knowing better, constrains my desire for love… I’ll still look in the wrong places, even when I know it’s wrong, and I’ll enjoy the sensation. The only thing that can draw me away from corrupt “love” is, (not guilt, not rules), but real love. Christ’s love. If His loves satisfies me and I love my brothers in Christ’s love, then I won’t need any other kind and will find myself truly content and in love with the right Someone. What a lover He is. I must accept Him.”
I now realized He was calling me. He gave everything; how could I hesitate to surrender everything to Him – the All Knowing? Yet I did hesitate: I was afraid. I had surrendered before and when I gave, what happened? He took from me. Earlier I had surrendered my pride and He humbled me by allowing me to break my collar bone. I gave Him my media and He limited what I could read and watch. I gave Him my wardrobe and He took certain clothes and restricted what I could and could not wear. It felt like no-one else had to sacrifice, but because I dared to, I was left without and alone. I gave Him something and where did He lead me? To a lonely path. And all along I had just desired for someone to love me. This strict way looked nothing like my heart’s desire.
I continued to read The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life and Mrs. Smith spoke to my heart again. The Lord used this part in her book to be such a blessing. It was like He sat down on my bed and spoke directly to me through the book. Please bear with me in this lengthy quote. I hope it blesses you like it did me.
“Have you never longed to lavish your love and attentions on someone far off from you in position or circumstances, with whom you were not intimate enough for any closer approach? Have you not felt a capacity for self-surrender and devotedness that has seemed to burn within you like a fire, and yet had no object upon which it dared to lavish itself? Have not your hands been full of “alabaster boxes of ointment very precious,” which you have never been near enough to any heart to pour out? If, then, you are hearing the lovely voice of your Lord calling you out into a place of nearness to Himself that will require a separation from all else, and that will make an enthusiasm of devotedness not only possible but necessary, will you shrink or hesitate? Will you think it hard that He reveals to you more of His mind than He does to others, and that He will not allow you to be happy in anything that separates you from Himself? Do you want to go where He cannot go with you, or to have pursuits which He cannot share?
No! no, a thousand times no! You will spring out to meet His lovely will with an eager joy. Even His slightest wish will become a binding law to you that it would fairly break your heart to disobey. You will glory in the very narrowness of the path He asks out for you, and will not pity, with an infinite pity, the poor far-off ones who have missed this precious joy. The obligations of love will be to you its sweetest privileges; and the right you have acquired to lavish the uttermost wealth of abandonment of all that you have upon your Lord will seem to lift you into a region of unspeakable glory. The perfect happiness of perfect obedience will dawn upon your soul, and you will begin to know something of what Jesus meant when He said, “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” (Smith 219-220)
I actually cried when I read it. It was exactly what I was dealing with and it was so close to my heart. So often I had feelings of where I wanted to pour out the love I had…and I had no-one who would take it seriously. Ah, but my God was calling me. He drew me near Himself and called.
Then this thought crossed my mind. He fulfills my need to be loved, for He loves me. I do not have to yearn for someone to fill that void in my heart, that need to be loved. He does! He loves me! But then this thought also – He fulfills my need to be needed. I yearn for someone to need me. Not only do I want to receive love, but I want to give love. I want someone to need my love to be given. It makes sense to me that I need Him, but for Him to need me seems almost foolish. I was overwhelmed what I read next:
“But do you think the joy in this will be all on your side? Has the Lord no joy in those who have thus surrendered themselves to Him, and who love to obey Him? Ah, my friends, we are not able to understand this; but surely Scriptures reveal to us glimpses of the delight, the satisfaction, the joy our Lord has in us, which rejoice our soul with their marvelous suggestions of blessedness. That we should need Him is easy to comprehend; but that He should need us seems incomprehensible. That our desire should be toward Him is a matter of course; but that His desire should be toward us passes the bounds of human belief. And yet He says it, and what can we do but believe Him?” (Smith 120)
Isn’t that beautiful? To know that He desires me? He made my heart capable of such love and then offered Himself as the object of it!
God has created in me the desire to be loved and to give love. And He offers Himself as the Lover and the Lovable. What better person could we want to love us? What better person could we bestow love on?
To think, He, the God of our very being kneels down, takes my hand in His and quietly asks me, His own already, “Will you have me, would you allow me to be your Beloved?”
How could I refuse? How could I deem anyone more precious? He knows how to perfectly love; he would never fail or forsake me. He has proven faithful as Savior; why not trust Him with all my heart as Lover? Yet, He will not force Himself on me, I must choose; for forced love is not love at all. This love is not only available to me, but to all of His children.