Sunday, July 27, 2008

True-ism: I Am Loved - Isaiah 54:10

"Though the mountains be shaken and
the hills be removed, 
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
say's the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Even if I never lose the weight, flatten my tummy, or get curves in the "right" place, I am still forgiven and free. And loved like crazy.


Forty years ago this store started the I Am Loved campaign to help people feel loved. 

As a kid I remember going to the mall and passing by this well known jewelry store. I remember seeing the little glass bowls filled with the Red I Am Loved Pins, setting on  the display counter.

I can remember wanting one of those pins so badly, but who would wear such a thing? I can remember wondering as a child if wearing that pin was kind of like bragging. Wouldn't it be like saying right there on your shirt or jacket that you were confident that you were loved? 

Now let me say that I didn't feel unloved, as a matter of fact I was confident my parents loved me, but they were, after all, my parents...they were required by law to love me!  

So, at a young age I began to question the words on that little Red Pin.  I had ambivalence: I wanted to wear that pin with everything in me, but how could I wear something I didn't totally believe was true.

As an adult I took that ambivalence with me. 

Although my parents weren't always every Sunday church goers, they made sure my brothers and I went to Religious Ed classes and were in church on holidays. I am grateful for my up-bringing because I knew God was there for me; I knew that I could talk to Him; I knew that He loved me.

Although, I didn't whole heartedly believe it.

As long as I can remember I had a strong need for God. Somehow, I developed a theology that went something like this: God will love you when are good enough. God will love you when you are kind. God will love you when you hang around the right people. God will love you if you dress the right way. God will love you when...

As I have mentioned here before, growing up here in the desert was one of endless choir practices, auditions, musicals, singing gigs, etc. I was known as "a singer." Moving away for 12 years and coming back has been interesting for me, because every time I run into someone I knew back in the day, they always ask "Are you still singing?" and they are shocked to know that I don't do much of that now. 

I am telling you this because singing was absolutely how I defined myself.  I had a little wall plaque hanging in my room as a teenager that said, 

"God likes me always, but He loves me when I sing."

I never knew how much I took that little saying to heart, until the season came when I wasn't singing anymore. There came a time when I stopped singing because I moved from my small pond town, to the big pond of Dallas/Forth Worth, where the talent was amazing and I was unknown and uncertain. I was going to have to start by proving wether I was as good as everyone I grew up with said I was (and honestly, I was doubtful). To make matters worse in this time period I was either always pregnant or breast feeding. Which made things a little more difficult.

Solomon writes this in Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun.

It was in this season that I was stripped of that one thing that never failed to give me value. My theology was slipping through my fingers because I had been a parent long enough to know that as hard as I tried, I couldn't be good enough, kind enough, successful enough, and my friends would willingly admit that they weren't perfect either. I wasn't too surprised though, because while trying to be these things before having children, I was always plagued by these questions: When will I know it's enough? When can I stop trying so hard to win love? When can I wear that Red Pin without any doubt, or feelings of presumption?

However, when my singing "career" consisted of nightly gig's in the nursery, singing to children who couldn't tell me how good I was, I was suddenly thrown into a spiral. If I could not prove myself by singing, how would I earn love now?

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to know, that sometimes, like when I saw this True-ism the first time, or when I see a Red Pin at the mall, my first gut reaction is that those three words are all psycho-babble that cannot be concretely proved! That sentence is hard for me type, because by nature I am not a cynic, but for a very long time I truly believed in the depths of my heart that love could be earned, however there were no guarantee's.

I don't believe that anymore.

In December 2002, I found myself lying on the floor of my closet in Fort Worth, TX. I was at one of the lowest points in my life, spiritually, mentally, and physically.  I laid down on the floor of my closet and cried, because I had just weighed myself. Not only had I reached the weight I had always wanted to be, but I had far exceeded it. Imagine my shock when I realized, like everything else I had tried in my life, it wasn't enough.

I made an appointment with the Director of Women's Ministry at our church. She set me up with a counselor, found me an amazing mentor and said this to me: Pursue God's love.

I'll be honest and tell you that I was a bit confused because I knew that God loved me, much like my parents and now my husband love me, but it was because I knew that that was the "right" answer. The answer those around me expected to hear.

I had no idea how to go about Pursuing God's Love, so I pulled out a concordance and looked at all the references to God's love in the bible and started to look them up. When I found a verse on God's love that I wanted to focus on I would write it down and put it somewhere I could see it often: on the computer screen, the bathroom mirror, or the dashboard in the car.  

After about two years of this, I began to deeply realize that God's love is not something I earn, but it is freely given.  I began to realize that I really didn't deserve His love, but He was lavishly loving me anyway. I came to understand that it wasn't how well I did things, or what I looked like, or how thin or heavy I was, that God's love was truly unconditional.  The only thing I had to do was be brave enough to accept it. 

Isaiah 54:10 says it all: No matter what happens in life, if you understand that God's love for you is consistent and un-yielding, then we can face anything.  When the world as we know it crumbles; when life doesn't work out the way we planned; when suddenly we look in the mirror and that 30 pounds of weight gain is suddenly apparent; or when we get on the scale and we realize that we really cannot be "thin enough" without sacrificing everything else; when we realize that it isn't diamonds, or clothes, or friends, or ministry, or kids, or talent; it isn't even knowing the right answers or having the perfect theology, that makes us lovable. 

It's because God says He loves us, and has proved that He does by sending His Son to die on the cross for us. He also has given us His Word, the Bible, to help us to know Him and His love, more.

"I am forgiven and free. And am loved like crazy"

It sounds cliche, until you know it's true.

My challenge for you is to pursue God's love. Here are a ton of reference's to Love in the bible. If you have a concordance you can start your own list. 

Focusing my mind on the Love of God was not a quick fix. It takes me along time to write and talk and think my way through things. I am still (six years later) pursuing God's love, because He is a well of living water that never runs dry. 

True Campaigners, how I wish I could come up with a little True Campaign pin that we could wear as Pursuers of God's love, but the good news is that we don't need a pin to wear God's love. It will be apparent in our countenance, our joy, our ability to live life freely, without worry and concern about when we will ever be lovable!

This next week we will focus on True-ism: I Choose to Believe and Jeremiah 29:11.

For those of you True Campaigners that want to know how to become more involved with the True Campaign, go read Travis' post. This is an exciting time for both Constance and Travis as word spreads about their ministry. 

If you are visiting from that post, Hello! I am so glad that you stopped by. In the side bar you will find all the True-ism posts that I have written so far. Be sure to say hello when you get a chance!

La Vida Dulce!


Jackie said...

You have hit on so many truths here that I can't quite digest it all in one reading. I'll be back to read again and ponder, and to look up those verses on God's love. I'll have to do it when I'm by myself 'cause I know I'm going to bawl like a baby.

Tiffani said...

I agree with Jackie it's hard to digest it all--you've really said so many great things...but your transparency and truth is just so courageous and inspiring....I'm glad you are following through with these posts and not second guessing your decision to be so open and honest (at least not outwardly) so I hope you don't doubt for a second that these words aren't touching people but even moreso if it's purposeful for YOU to say/write those things down then so be it....well done my blogging friend...Oh, and btw, I PROUDLY wore several of those pins at a time as a child and we ended up buying our wedding bands there and when they gave me a bear with that pin on it I literally cried :)!!!

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Looking up all those verses is a wonderful idea! (And I wholeheartedly agree with Jackie.)