And I ask Him that...you'll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love.
[Ephesians 3:18, The Message]
Two nights ago I was talking to my husband, Jon, about my continuing struggle to understand [to "take in"] God's love for me. I was trying to describe how painful it is... that it sort of feels like being in a loveless marriage, where God is just going through the motions—He's committed to stay in the relationship and choosing to do loving things, even though He doesn't really feel love for me. (Isn't that awful? Yes, I realize these thoughts are very skewed... do ya think the enemy has maybe been working overtime on me?!?)
But then Jon reminded me of 1 John 4:8... "God is love."
Talk about a light bulb moment! God IS love! (How could I have forgotten that?) He doesn't just act it out because it's the right thing to do; He embodies it!! He can't fake it or do it half-heartedly; it is His very character... the very threads of His being!
Oh, and regarding my feelings that God's love feels "collective" instead of individual (such as in John 3:16... "God so loved the world")—my pastor reminded me that God's character is constant and consistent: what is true collectively is true for the individual. And, God shows His intimate interest in our individual lives in Psalm 139—as God had just reminded me about two weeks ago (see my post from May 3).
I'm still processing this, but the truth of it is amazing—God loves me personally! And He loves you personally!
Perhaps to some people this might sound so elementary—you'd think I would know this stuff after 14 years! Obviously, the enemy really pulled one over on me through my parenting guilt—but as I "re-learn" about God's love and mercy, I think it goes deeper and deeper. And how can I not share what I'm learning?—it's exciting! And in case someone else is struggling the way I have, that they might find hope too.
Sleep peacefully tonight, friends—you are deeply loved by the God of the universe. ☺