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Click the heart to sponsor my service work at Valiant Hearts throughout the month of October. In their weekly support group, I will offer practical steps to overcoming the effects of childhood sexual abuse. For more information about this organization, visit www.valianthearts.org
Said the lawyer to the teacher:
Which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second (not that you asked) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Me, and how my bohemian brain rolls: Jesus, You--and only You, see inside the hearts of men. My take on Matthew 22: 35--38 is that You answered two questions that day. The first was asked with a man's mouth. The second was asked within his heart. 'Cause that's how You roll.
We hear this commandment a lot in church . . . "Love God. Love others." But back up the bus, Christ follower.
Go back. Read Jesus' words again. And again. And again.
- Love God with all your heart. Your soul. Your mind.
- Love others as YOURSELF.
Could it be that my capacity to love others is inversely proportional to my ability to love myself after first learning to love God--who first loved me?
Survivors of sexual exploitation, betrayal, and abuse have much to learn about God's love for us. If we are going to experience the effectiveness of His love in our lives, we must first experience His personal impact in our hearts. This is where roots are formed and strengthened. How I see God and myself will always surface in my relationship choices. Always.
No one abuses me today. No one. Not because abusers stopped being abusers, but because I focus on loving God and letting Him love me, first. From there, in accordance with Matthew 22: 35--38, I practice loving myself before I get busy "loving" others.
I take care of myself. I'm willing to say goodbye to people I love if I know they hurt me and have no intention of trying to get better. And God Almighty, how this hurts. But I know the nature of God. And today I know that a loving God does not expect me to stay connected to someone who does not value me. Someone who after having spent time with, leaves me questioning my value in their eyes. True love does not leave you wondering if you are worth while.
Nope. [This] is not the mark of a loving Father. Think of every childhood fantasy you ever had about your weedding day. Have you once envisioned yourself dressed in white with your father instructing, "Baby girl, he's gonna cheat. A lot. He's gonna lie. You'll lose count of the lies. He's never going to love you sacrificially, but he will ask you to give everything you have until there is nothing left of you but an empty shell on the floor crying out to God, wondering why you exist. But give it anyway. Give it all. Die to who God created you to be--in the name of love."
Sounds crazy, right? That's because it is, Pumpkin.
Abused? If you don't know who God is (Love), or how He wants you to be loved--then "check it before you wreck it." 'Cause authentic love is nourishing. Counterfeit love fosters crazy. Can I get an amen?
- Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
- Learn to love yourself. (Within your frame of reference, this is not selfish.) The happily married cherished-church-lady-chick has no idea what you go through each day. She prays for marriage with no frame of reference for how to pray for an abused wife. Let her off the hook. Don't hate her. She's doing the best she can! But you already know, it may not be enough. Ask God for what and whom you need.
Let Love love you away from what love isn't!
You will love Him for this. You will.
Learn to love yourself.
And then others.
It's gutsy, I know. But you're gutsy. Look at all you've survived! Leverage your gutsy for God, yourself--and then others. If you leave yourself out of God's equation, you forfeit His solution. "Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy" (Jonah 2: 8 NKJV).
I love you with gutsy-God love!
Published on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 @ 12:08 PM CDT
(From my archives, March 2014.)
I'm driving to meet a friend for lunch when I spot a woman standing on the side of the road with a toddler perched on her hip, pointing to a pasture filled with cows. I can't distinguish between boy-toddler or girl-toddler because 1) mother and child are wrapped in winter wear, and 2) my goal to arrive at Cheesecake Factory by 11:30 is fueled with great speed and determination.
For a brief moment I take the thought of french fries captive unto Christ and imagine myself as a child anchored to Jesus' side as He points to a pasture and says, "Behold! Cows!"
And I'm all, "Wow, cows!" I can't wait to tell my friends about the cool cows Jesus and I marveled over in a wintery field of wonder. And the fact that He scooped little me up in His arms is as big a deal I imagine as it was for Noah, just knowing God was with him when two by two, animals were ushered onth the ark. Nothing new for the Creator. But Oh, the delight in showing a child.
The take away for me is that sometimes I rob myself of the sheer blessing of His presence because I'm too worried about the quantity/quality of milk the cows will produce. Do I have a divine appointment with these cows? Will the head cow notice the gift of communication God has bestowed upon His cow-gazing daughter? (Translation: I have a lot to say and I'd like to use my words for God's glory.) Can said cows provide me with literary agency representation, a publishing contract, or an opportunity to speak so I can further expand my pasture? Puh-lease!
Today, I express my deepest appreciation for the very presence of the greatest love I've ever known. For renewed gratitude for the dreams and desires He's placed in my heart--no matter the outcome. And for cows.
*Duly note: Respectable Christian bloggers provide Scripture with whatever it is they're rambling about so that you, the reader, will . . . gosh, I must not have paid close enough attention in that workshop. Nevertheless, here ya go:
New International Version (©1984) Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Praise God for the little things in life. The unexpected delight in the seemingly inconsequential moments that fill us with the warmth and wonder of His unfailing love.
This, my friend, is how I'm empowered to move forward in Christ regardless of my circumstances.
"Always keep your childish enthusiasm."
--Katherine, Under the Tuscan Sun (2003 film)
You are not alone,
Published on Sunday, September 25, 2016 @ 12:05 PM CDT