Why is it so difficult to receive love? So, so much more difficult than giving it away.
Sunday in church, the pastor talked briefly about the things a minister/leader/pastor cannot do for those to whom they minister. The sum up is that a minister cannot go in and fix something inside of another person’s heart.
Pondering this and other things as I drove home Monday through the incredible beauty of the Wenatchee National Forest, I was stuck on an even more disturbing reality: How difficult it is to fix something inside of my own heart.
I know a lot of kids and have the pleasure of watching them interact with their parents. All of them are at various stages of obedience. Sometimes my heart is like the naughtiest, most disobedient toddler. I can say with great sternness what I want my heart to feel or not feel, to know or to not know. I can cajole it to believe, bribe it not to rebel, soothe it into gratitude…
But the heart is a treacherous, beastly toddler.
One of the big things I try to force my heart to do is simply to believe I am loved so that it stops crying out for things that I know will do it no good. I want to believe I am loved, so that I can give that love back freely.
When I think of the love I have in my heart for my friends, the longing I feel for them to know they are loved, the loyalty I will choose when things aren’t happy, I sometimes try to turn that around on myself. After all, when my friends express their own struggle to receive love, I tell them to do this very thing. If you know how much you love others, how could you possibly believe others do not love you?
Yet the heart growls with hunger.
I may not write a blog post until I know what I want to say, but I can’t do that with my friends. With them I must be myself even when I fear rejection because maybe I’ve had more bummer days than seem acceptable. Will they still choose me? No matter how I try, I can neither make myself not need the love, nor can I force myself to abandon fear and always choose vulnerability.
Sometimes I find it difficult to feel the reality of God’s love. I grow fat on mindless entertainment and pointless daydreams and when I realize how hungry my heart is, it is more like a longing to be hungry for what is good- a desire to want. Like when you’ve eaten sugar so much that when you’re hungry you want to be hungry for healthy food, but you really just crave more sweets. If I let myself sit with that longing for more than a few minutes, it begins to go deeper. And then the hunger becomes almost like a reflection of the love itself. While I starve and only grow hungrier when I look for the affirmation of other humans, when I manage to recognize, to locate the real hunger, this real hunger effectively feeds the other pointless cravings and hones in on the rapturous perfection of God himself.
Even though I don’t have God, I do have him. He is not in my hands, but I recognize myself in His.
I don’t want to sound too mystical, but I believe all that stuff I just said and I look for it- I look for Him even while I struggle to want anything real and good. What do we have if we don’t have Him? Who are we if we are not His?