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Learning to Be Loved

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

She sat before me visibly working through her thoughts as she spoke them aloud. 

“I mean, what’s the point?”  she said.  

I sat quietly, contemplating her question.  A woman who had been previously wounded in a relationship.  Now older, wiser and more fiercely guarded, all too familiar with the potential fatalities of the heart that can occur with a failed marriage.  Fear and desperation mingled as she weighed out the pros and cons of remarrying to someone that she loved and enjoyed and who wanted to marry her.  He was ready to move forward in their level of commitment, she wasn’t sure.

She continued, “We are already together, marriage just seems to make it complicated.”  Her tone pleaded with me to see things her way…to agree.  

“Marriage is complicated,” I responded.  I didn’t want to dismiss her understandable caution or dismiss her valid concerns.  

Marriage is hard. 

Marriage is messy.

Marriage is vulnerable.

Marriage is oh- so- very public and private all at the same time.  

An agreement between two individuals to become one flesh.  

To do life together through life together.  It’s agreeing to go on a trip with someone when you have an idea of where you’re going but aren’t exactly sure how to get there or what obstacles you will encounter along the way while not having enough room to accommodate all the baggage that each of you possess.  Bags that must be unpacked, repacked, re-arranged…some completely have to go.    

Marriage is work.  

Work to heal.

Work to grow.

Work to compromise.

Work to forgive over and again.  

Once I could tell that she was finished pouring out her heart I responded the best I knew how. 

“There is no other relationship on earth in which we experience the depth of intimacy, vulnerability, forgiveness, and commitment as we do when we are married and are doing marriage God’s way.  Marriage is our opportunity to experience God’s love, mercy, grace, and commitment with and through another human being.  The covenant of marriage and the gut-level commitment therein both refines and redeems us if we allow it in a way that a relationship not bound by covenant cannot.  Marriage is God’s plan, and his plan is always for our best.”

I spoke from experience, one of the very best teachers outside of the Holy Spirit.  

Married at 19 I married my husband not because I loved him (honestly, I didn’t have the slightest idea what love was), but because I so desperately wanted to be loved…to be chosen.  

I was a broken, wounded little girl in a woman’s body who carried into marriage baggage overflowing with the remnants of a childhood filled with abhorrent abuse, neglect, and abandonment.  

This September we will have been married 27 years.    It’s been a journey of seasons.  A journey of learning to love and be loved the way Jesus intended.  

Learning to be loved has been by far the most difficult lesson for me.  Fear kept me prisoner for far too long in my own cage of intimacy isolation.  I believed that I could only be hurt to the depth that I let my husband into the sacred spaces of my heart. Self- isolation offered the façade of safety, protection, and control.  For many years he stood on the outside of my soul peeking in the window…knocking on the door.  Doing everything he knew to prove to me that he did love me, that I was worth loving and that he longed and desired a greater level of intimacy on all levels than I had been yet willing to allow.  He was given the enormous task of disproving everything my life before him had taught me to be true.  

He waited patiently for a long time.  He persevered.  He endured.  

It wasn’t until a season of tremendous vulnerability, weakness and surrender that I found the courage to open my soul’s doors and windows allowing the fresh breeze of His love to flow freely.  I was too tired to hold them shut any longer.

He has loved me like Jesus.  Undeniably, completely, and fully.  And through the redemptive nature of God’s love flowing through him, I have learned to love him in return.  

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

In this learning to be loved by my husband I too have learned to be loved on a deeper level by my God.  So many similarities exist between these two most significant relationships in my life.  

I know that as deep and wide as I am loved by this man I affectionally refer to as my Beloveder, his love is only a mere reflection of the love of the One who loves me best and knows me most…the one who refers to me as His BELOVED.

My husband, like my God, loved me first.  In all of my brokenness, all of my inadequacy, all of my me-ness.  They both loved me before I knew what it was to love, before I knew how to love them back.  I learned love through them.  

In both of these relationships, it was me that had to be willing to receive the gift that was being offered.  Seems like it would be a no-brainer, right?  To receive the gift of being loved?  

The cost, however, was dear.  

For me, learning to be loved meant…

Choosing to trust

Choosing to believe that both my God and my husband had a heart that was for me

Choosing to believe that what I had been told previously about love was a lie

Being willing to re-learn what I thought I knew and then

Learn to trust

Be authentic

Be vulnerable

Not to hide 

To live fully in love means to live free.  

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Let’s pray together….

Father, thank you that you have given us the ability to learn and re-learn.  Thank you for truth that sets us free.  Thank you, Father, for the ability to grow and change and heal.  Thank you for the courage to live authentically, vulnerably and fearlessly so that we are able to experience your love and the love of the one you gave us to love in the way that you intended.  

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