I know I’m not alone in having a hard time believing in the love of God for me (we think he loves everyone else), or receiving the love of God, or letting it catch my heart up into life and joy, or, maybe especially, staying there for any reasonable period of time. An hour or two would be amazing. A day would be a triumph. And I’m thinking that maybe part of the reason we have a hard time believing in God’s love for us hides back in our story somewhere. I remember something Gerald May wrote years ago: we need to let ourselves tell our stories of love—how love came to us over the course of our lives, or how it did not come, or how it left. We need to tell the story so that we understand. And I remember thinking at the time, No thank you. I’d rather not go there. Thanks just the same.
And I ignored the issue for years.
Now I’m trying to bring my heart back to the love of God, let it heal me, and stay there. It feels sometimes like searching through a dark forest for a wounded deer and trying to coax it in so I can touch it.
Our story of love is a very tangled story about the most precious thing in our lives (our longing for love). It’s a hard story to tell for two reasons. For one thing, we’re too close to it to often have any clarity at all. Can’t see the forest for the trees. More deeply, it’s a heartbreaking story, and we’re not sure we want to revisit the painful details. That’s why we’re ambivalent about love. Oh, we yearn for it. We want to be loved. But we hide from it too, building defenses against it, fortressing ourselves from being hurt again. We settle for a doughnut.
Then we wonder why it’s hard for us to connect with the love of God, let it in so deep that it heals us, and remain in his love.