I am reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan with my friend Rachel, and the book is touching me in such different ways than I expected. The thing that astonishes me is how easy it is to read…so simple that someone very young could understand it, yet so many truths that older people have long forgotten. Chapter 3 really spoke to me tonight. The chapter talks about God’s love for us. Maybe it is because this concept has not been real to me for very long that it just amazes me every time, but there is a part of me that hopes I will never lose the wonder that the God of all the Universe would care about every little detail of my life. Not only that He cares, but that He is constantly pursuing and wanting more of me. It’s just something I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.
As girls, I think I can safely say that almost all if not all of us long to be pursued by someone. It’s kind of discouraging in a relationship (especially how a lot of relationships go in the U.S.) when girls feel they need to make the first moves. I do think that we’re to blame for a lot of the weakening in our guys, though. We grow impatient in waiting for them to come around, so we jump in and they find themselves along for the ride. It’s like we’re shooting ourselves in the foot…we want to be pursued, but we don’t give them the opportunity. However, in a lot of our cases, we don’t know what it’s like to be pursued. A lot of guys these days find it easier to just go with the flow, and it’s really rare to find someone with the guts and confidence to step up to the plate.
In my family, I grew up learning how to be strong. My parents are very private, and on the more conservative side of personalities. I broke the mold when I came along, because I have a very adventurous, passionate, and ambitious spirit. I think this scares a lot of people, including my parents. In a group, I’m pretty much a wall flower, but when it comes to my personal goals, I’m all in and ready for whatever challenge may present itself. I work, live, and play hard…and I sleep with the same intensity. I am determined to take advantage of every moment. So in the sense of the word, I kind of fit into the category that does not know how to wait for someone else to make the first move, and how to live my life responding to someone else’s actions. This, I am starting to realize, has been a big barrier in my relationship with God, as I have always been in the mindset of “making things happen” rather than “living my life in response to His love.”
I always saw it as my responsibility to maintain my relationship with God, and it’s true that in any relationship both parties must be active in growing together. However, it is the word “both” that I haven’t been paying attention to. Until recently, I have been living my relationship with God backwards. I have been the one pursuing and seeking and discovering. I haven’t even acknowledged or thought about the ways that God has been pursuing me. My relationship with God has been pretty stressful, because I blamed myself for the times that I wasn’t growing like I thought I should…that maybe I wasn’t praying right or I was not spending enough time reading my Bible. Instead, when those times came, I might have been better served by simply opening my heart to hear His voice. It’s a hard thing to be passive. We feel like we’re wasting time. However, there are so many Scriptures that talk about the importance of learning how to wait on God, and that He rewards those who are faithful in doing this.
I’m not saying that it is wrong to pursue God. I’m all about that. However, at least I am learning, that in a relationship, there is give and take and learning how to respond to each other. One person can’t do all the talking. If we’re going to be in a relationship with God, then we need to learn to listen to His heart, to confide in Him, but to allow Him to confide in us. How cool would it be to get to the point with God that He entrusts His secrets and passions to us personally? That’s my aim…I just long for the day when our relationship is that strong.
So I guess the thing that has really stuck out to me from this chapter is something that Francis Chan said on page 62 (for those of you who are following along): “Imagine how awful it would feel to have your child say to you, ‘I don’t really love you or want your love, but I would like my allowance, please.’ Conversely, what a beautiful gift it is to have the one you love look you in the eye and say, ‘I love you. Not your beauty, your money, your family, or your car. Just you.’”
He also said on page 61: “The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us.” Wow. I just have to sit here and think about these for a minute. How much do we see every friendship and relationship we have as conditional? Maybe we think that because basically every friendship or relationship we have had has been conditional. We hold back and we build such high walls around our hearts, and every brick has a reason. “When I said this, he responded with this. So I will not make the same mistake again.” When the friendship or relationship ends, we try to figure out what was wrong with us that they did not want to be with us. We conclude (as girls) that we weren’t attractive enough, we were too boring or too needy, or a whole bunch of other things. (If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that there is no limit to the conclusions that girls can come up with as a reason for a guy not wanting to be with them.) I have definitely found myself in that trap, so I guess that makes me normal. However, what Francis Chan says about having someone that we love look into our eyes and tell us that they love us despite everything that could attract or repulse makes tears come to my eyes. That’s the kind of relationship we all long for right? That someone would truly love us for us, and it wouldn’t matter the things that we think are ugly about us or how much we keep messing up. We could count on them being there the next morning, and they can count on us for the same.
There is Someone that loves us like this, and this chapter also talks about the irony that the most amazing Being to ever exist wants more than anything to spend time with us, and we often want more than anything to do something else. What on earth is up with this? Someone longs to look into my eyes and tell me that He loves me for who I really am, with all my imperfections and ugliness, and that He sees me as beautiful and He TREASURES ME, and I am constantly running away from it. Maybe it’s because I feel I don’t deserve it, and I guess I would be right. There is nothing about me or any of us that could deserve a love like that, but the truth is that it’s being offered to us, and we are constantly resisting it. Why is this?
Do we base our understanding of God on the imperfect relationships that we have experienced in life? It’s easy to believe that EVERYONE is untrustworthy, and even easier to conclude that closing our heart off will get us through life a lot more safely than the alternative. I hope I’m making sense. However, are we really experiencing life? If God created us for the purpose of loving Him and for Him to show His love to us, then why are we so afraid? If we know that He will never fail us or disown us, then why do we shy away? Is it because we don’t understand Him? Well, when it comes down to it, do we really understand anything? We are missing out on a HUGE comfort that He alone understands us, and He treasures us.
What would it be like to be treasured? What would it be like to not be worried about how my teeth look when I smile too big, or how awkward I look when I dance? What would it be like to get totally dressed up and to not be afraid that He won’t even care or notice? I guess in my mind I’ve always thought it selfish to long to be treasured. I was always taught (and rightly so) that a relationship works best when each one is concerned for the other’s well-being over their own. However, there is a part of me that wonders if it is really wrong to enjoy being wanted and desired. Maybe I haven’t thought about this long enough. Maybe this is part of the problem why I had so much sadness in my life for so many years. I never thought it was right to enjoy being loved by God. In my search to become humble, I took on a whole different kind of selfishness that said that I knew more about my unworthiness and value than God did. However, true humility is learning to accept and see ourselves the way God does. If God sees us as loveable and beautiful, then is it wrong to see ourselves as that too?
That’s crazy love…I guess I could go on all day about this…because I don’t understand it. I’m still trying to figure out how to live in light of God’s love. God is teaching me more every day how much He desires me, and oh what an amazing thing it is to be treasured!