When I was at a women’s retreat over the weekend, one of the speakers asked us to reflect on a few questions and two of them were:
“Do I truly believe that God loves me?”
“Do I truly believe that God thinks I’m beautiful?”
The answer for me was: some days, yes, other days, no.
I know (I know) that we’re made in the image & likeness of God — fearfully and wonderfully made.
But I don’t always believe this truth the way I wish I did…
The woman speaking went on to explain how we could answer those questions with better certainty, and she said it started with getting to know God better.
Once we came to know who He is, she said, we would be able to know ourselves better… and then we would also know our worth, our value — essentially, how He see us.
And then — then — we would be able to answers those questions with a resounding, “yes.”
“Yes, I truly believe God loves me. Yes, I truly believe He thinks I’m beautiful.”
I looked around the room and I could tell I wasn’t the only one hearing these questions and feeling doubtful.
It seemed like most of these women could use the reminder that they’re known by our creator — that they are seen by Him, and most especially, that they are Loved by Him.
Maybe all the times that we’re not seen by those around us — not seen for the work we’re doing, for the thought we put into everything we do, and for the effort and sheer love we pour out into our daily to-do list… maybe all of those times that we’re not seen — by our family, those closest to us — chips away at our understanding of how God sees us.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking we understand who God is because we understand how those around us love us…
But the people in our lives love us so imperfectly sometimes.
Yes, even our husbands, our children, our parents, even — their love is imperfect. And although it can and does often point us to our Father’s love and identity (as it should — it’s a part of Him), we have to remember it is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s something that is multiplied beyond our understanding.
And God sees everything.
He sees the effort we put into our daily tasks, and the thought behind our actions, and the love behind our sacrifices.
He sees the small things like our doing the dishes, and creating a grocery list while planning our meals for the week.
He sees how we put ourselves into these tasks for our families.
He sees how we do something for our husbands before we might do something for ourselves… even when our husbands don’t see that.
He sees the quiet dying to ourselves as we rise each morning to start over again with whatever is in front of us each day.
And He hears our prayers — those words we mumble as we get out of bed, and the words we lift up when we’re running errands and having a bad day, and the words we don’t even have — He even hears those…
God sees us and hears us. He knows us. And He loves us.
He IS love.
But if we’re really to believe that, we have to spend a little more time with Him. It’s another sacrifice to make just like the other ones I mentioned above, but it’s a small one with a big impact.
It’s something that can help us to see God, to hear Him, and to know and love Him the way that He does for us…
It’s something that we can do to better answer those questions: “Do I truly believe that God loves me?” and “Do I truly believe that God thinks I’m beautiful?”
So I’ve been trying to get to know God a little better, and I loved this description of Him from Saint John of Kronstadt. He said, “What is the name of our God? Love, Mercy, Compassion, Bountifulness. When you pray, contemplate with the eyes of your heart Love and Mercy standing before you — the Lover of men listening to you.”
Wow. That really helps me to have a better image of who our Lord is when I’m speaking to Him…It’s such a good reminder that I could use more often; to know and remember that He isn’t someone who looks upon me with harsh eyes or judgement or condemnation, but someone who looks at me with eyes of mercy, compassion and love.
And boy do I need that…
I also need to be better at believing this, at choosing to believe it.
I’ll finish with this: A piece of marriage advice I’ve heard time and time again is that love is a choice — that we have to choose to love everyday in our marriages.
It’s the same way with our trust and our love for God. We have to choose it everyday. We have to choose to believe it, to live it, and to remember it — even when we’re not feeling it.
“You have to trust the place that is solid, the place where you can say yes to God’s love even when you do not feel it. Right now you feel nothing except emptiness and the lack of strength to choose. But keep saying, “God loves me, and God’s love is enough.” You have to choose the solid place over and over again and return to it after every failure.” (Henri Nouwen, “The Inner Voice of Love”)
I hope you choose God’s love for you today — choose to believe it, trust it, and allow it to wash over you today when you need it most.