They say there’s a kind of freedom that comes from knowing with absolute certainty, that you are loved. It’s a freedom I’ve been searching for my whole life and looking back, I can see that each time I’ve taken a step into that freedom, I’ve allowed self doubt and insecurity to push me back into the darkness of my safely trapped.
I think that love, freedom, safety, security and all that comes between being safely trapped, or safely held; are all avenues that God has allowed me to explore in depth throughout the seasons. God has walked with me down each avenue and He has sat with me whenever I got lost or had no strength to go further. I haven’t always believed that God has been there, sometimes I still have doubt, but God’s never given me a reason to think otherwise – the testimonies that have so far come from my brokenness stand to prove this.
It often comes back to the verse Hebrews 11:1 where God tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. We don’t need to always ‘see’ or ‘feel’ God to know that He is there. In church this morning we were reminded that God wants to have an intimate relationship with us, not just when life is going well, but when things are hard too. God is consistent, I think that’s one of His biggest characteristics and it’s one of the easiest to prove; just look at His word, He was there for His people, from Genesis through to Revelations. There is a sense of security that comes from God’s consistency, a seed of reliability is sewn and trust grows from that as we learn that God isn’t going anywhere. Accepting the truth of God’s consistency and nearness, is difficult when you’ve spent your life experiencing conditional relationship and repeated loss. However, that’s the beauty of God: He isn’t human, He is Love and He is Truth.
I remember as a child, I often heard people say that change was as good as a holiday. I can’t attest to that because I’ve never liked change, and I rarely go on holiday. However there have been seasons over time where God has allowed change, and in hindsight most changes were good; even the painful ones, as they drew me nearer to God. I suppose that’s what people mean when they liken change to a holiday, subject to both being good. In my experience though, change has often lead to exposure, vulnerability and sometimes even uncomfortableness. Similarly, as has my ventures down various said avenues.
There have been significant times where God has allowed change to teach me about what it means to trust Him. Some changes felt brutal and left me raw, but even then, I can see how God held me and revealed to me His love. The embodiment and manifestation of His love is something that God continues to reveal to me each day. In every season, God continues to provide for me, He shows up and He meets me there. Experiencing God is an encounter like no other, being met by His love and His grace is overwhelming in the best way. I still struggle to understand how God can unconditionally love me without me needing to work hard to earn His love, but as I’ve said in the past; maybe that isn’t for me to understand but only for me to accept.
There’s freedom in that love, I know that now, but like any love, it requires vulnerability and trust. If I think back to each time change felt most brutal, I can also see that each time was a time where God wasn’t first in my life. There have been many of those brutal changes in my relationships, especially with those I love; family, friends, T. I’ve spiralled in circles searching for love, and still the love that aches the most is the lack of parental love. When my mom stopped loving me, I searched for a replacement love, a love that could outweigh my pain. I found a love from T, but it was never fair of me because her love for me was unconditional and in my brokenness I think I took advantage of that. By God’s grace, I know T still loves me but I also know that her love isn’t the love that my safety and security can be tied to. The same similarly be said for past people like R, J, TC etc.
So what love can my safety and security be tied to? I think we know the answer, all along we’ve known the answer. I remember a Sunday afternoon months ago, I sat riverside and I wrote a letter to T, explaining to her all that God was revealing to me. He was showing me that He needed to be my number one, the one I yearned to share with and go to first. And for a long time after that, He was, and during that time I remember pursuing Him so wholeheartedly that nothing could draw me away from my pursuit: I was so safe and secure. When my safety and security was tied to God’s love, I felt undoubtedly safe and secure in other relationships too. However, since moving from God, I have felt increasingly less safe and secure in all relationships. Can you see the pattern? I look back over my life and it never ceases to amaze me how many times I cross this bridge with God: He wants to be at the centre, He needs to be at the centre.
I can recall writing a blog post around that same Sunday afternoon, God had reminded me of His place in my life: centred and first. I remember reflecting upon seasons where God allowed for distance to be made between myself and people I loved most, so that from that distance could come a realignment with Him. Sometimes God has allowed ‘drastic’ or ‘brutal’ measures to be made, in order for me to come back to that realisation that He is Lord of my life. I’ve quoted part of that post below, it remains so relevant to where I find myself once again.
“God has a way of using the most unexpected circumstances, from the most painful to the most seemingly insignificant, to constantly bring me back to Him; back to the foot of the cross. I shared with T recently about how God keeps bringing me back to a place where I am left with no other option than to realign my dependance solely upon Him. Ps Shaph shared the most beautiful perspective on this topic at church recently, he said: “Sometimes God allows weakness between a precious gift He has given us, so that we can keep coming back to a full dependance and security in Him alone”. God has gifted me with precious relationships but every now and then, God allows a moment of weakness and insecurity, distance, that brings me back to Himself and reminds me that my relationship with Him is most important. God continually reminds me that He is my home, that I am safe and secure in Him alone. I have held onto God’s promises a lot more tightly lately; His promise to be my home, His promise to keep me safe and secure, His promise to hold me in my brokenness, His promise to love me unconditionally and to hold my right hand. Each time I forget, I look down to my wrist.. Isaiah 41:13.”
I have moved away from God and I honestly can’t trace back my steps to see where it all started to unravel, but as I sit here now, everything around me is in shambles. It’s been eight weeks since my safest person stopped feeling safe, it’s been months now where alcohol has become a 24/7 coping mechanism, it’s been a never ending cycle of me trying to earn love and search for safety and security in wavering places. There is so much in my life that I can not control right now. Over these months I have chased numbness, but the pills and drunken nights on highways have only led to sarc’s and more pain. Over the last week I have had heightened sensitivity and anxiety.. I walked into a garden and began crying and hyperventilating because there were too many different coloured flowers that didn’t match.. I spent two hours between 2.30-4.30am virtually panicking about how my colleagues work desk had two black file dividers with three piercing neon orange ones on top and about how her stack of books didn’t all face the same direction.. I have had various meltdowns over mistyped documents or mismatched colour schemes. I seem to be hyper-fixating on the smaller and more controllable aspects of life because that’s easier than drowning in all the larger aspects that I can’t control. The most devastating part of all of this, is that I’ve over and over again, asked where God has been throughout these last few months. But again, I’ve known the answer all along: He has been right here, He’s never been anywhere else.
Isaiah 65:24 is a verse I have leant on time and time again, pressing into a hope that God really does hear me before I speak, that He knows what my heart can not find the words to say. In my shame I struggle to allow my brokenness to wash me up at the foot of the cross, but in my desperation I am learning to allow myself to be held by the One who loves me most.
People often tell me that I need to love myself before I can be loved. I used to interpret that as meaning that no one could ever love me until I could love myself. But that’s not the case. The lack of love I have for myself in no way prevents others from loving me, they still love me. The only thing it prevents is my ability to feel loved. I can be loved without feeling loved. I can be loved without believing I am loved. Isn’t that a tragic reality?
Imagine going through life being loved unconditionally, but living with that love constantly just out of reach? I’d usually blame myself and say it’s my own fault for not allowing myself to drown in the love I so deeply yearn for, but sitting here I actually pity myself. I can remember so vividly moments over the years where love was used as a weapon, as a tool for bribery and as something I needed to earn. As time went on, my view of love became more and more distorted. It’s that distortion that prevents me from taking hold of the love that’s currently barely an arms length away. There’s love all around me, perhaps not always from the people whose love I’ve longed for, but there’s still love and it’s still precious. I habitually seem to keep bringing the concept of love back to God, and the ways in which He has shown me love.. perhaps that’s just because God is Love.
The more I seek God, the more I begin to understand and the more I learn to trust His love. God’s love isn’t like the seasons, it doesn’t change.
There’s lyrics that read; “to be loved, and love at the highest count, means to lose all the things I can’t live without.. let it be known, that I will choose to lose.. I’m so afraid, but I’m open wide”..
As those words have circled through my mind over the past week, I have wondered how they might translate to my relationship with God. My heart of hearts yearns to be loved and it is, I am loved, at the highest of counts. God paid the highest price to show His love for His children, Jesus died because He loves us. Perhaps the losses that come with change, are a sacrifice I need to make in order to realign myself with God as the centre of my life? Perhaps the things, the people, I feel that I can’t live without, are those I need to lose in order to realise I won’t truely lose them if I gain God? Once I have tied my sense of absolute safety and security to God’s unconditional love for me, then I will see that I am still loved by T, and those whom I have stood to lose; I’ll never lose them, I’ll only gain God too.
To love myself the way God loves me is the ultimate goal because that is what will undo the chains that keep me held captive. God wants to answer my prayer from a few weeks ago that I blogged on, he wants the undoing to unfold, but maybe that means I need to allow Him to bring change. Change is coming, and I already feel raw but I also feel an abundance of peace. As I stood in church this morning I realised that somewhere over the past 3 days, a weight lifted and it was then that I knew that what lays ahead will near break me, but that God will be carrying me in His unconditional love.
– c x (28.11.2021)