That was the theme of this past weekend women's retreat. We stayed at a very lovely B&B in Newport, RI - just a block from all the fun shops and yummy restaurants on the waterfront. We finally had sunshine and temperatures over 45 degrees - the first time since November probably. All the makings for a perfect weekend.
I had a bad day on Thursday, and after months of planning, I suddenly didn't want to go away for the weekend. I finally conceded that it was Satan trying to hold me back and so I thought maybe there was something really big for me to learn this weekend. I was right.
I've been a Christian for 8 years now. I do my bible studies, I serve in my church, I attend services every week and really pay attention to the sermons. There has been no doubt in me that Jesus died for me on that cross. That in doing so he has taken away my sins and saved me. My salvation occurred when I accepted Christ into my life and my heart, and that salvation can never be taken away from me.
BUT.....cause isn't there always a but? BUT - I have never really accepted God's unconditional love. I have been struggling with this for all these years - long before these 8 years that I've been a Christian. Who I am, how I'm wired - I constantly struggle with pleasing people; doing things to earn love and respect; believing that somehow, someway, if I just did enough or did something really well, THEN I'd be liked, respected, loved. Even though this thinking has been about my human relationships, I carry this pattern over to my relationship with God. If I just did my quiet time more faithfully; if I just served well enough in my church; if I just completed the bible-in-one-year tract; if I was just the mom and wife He calls me to be....well, then I'd finally earn the love that God so freely wants to give each of us.
I came face to face with this false thinking this weekend. I realized that my #1 struggle is not scripture memorization, or eloquent prayer, or more meaningful quiet time. Nope - my #1 struggle in fully accepting God's unconditional love for me...just as I am...right where I am. He loves me high and wide, deep and long, no matter what I do or how I do. Just like my own sweet boy who I will always love, no matter what he does or who he be, God loves me as His own child.
Wait - what?? God loves me? But He's seen everything I've done...and I mean EVERYTHING!! He knows my thoughts - those of long past and even those right now - those thoughts that I would never share out loud with anyone as they are so shameful. Surely He knows them. And He knows every mistake, failure, misstep I've made, and continue to make. And He loves me? Why?
But that's just it - I need to stop asking why and start thanking Him. Because it doesn't matter why. And even if it did matter, I have the answer - right there in the Bible. Anytime I want to question that love, I can just open the bible and read about it, cause its everywhere in the Bible. But that's not my job to question Him. My job is to accept it - I mean really, truly accept it. Accept it as unconditionally as He gives it. And my job is to thank Him and praise Him.
As I work on Nourishing my spirit this year, I realize this is my #1 goal - to accept God's love. And in accepting it, that should in and of itself, change my life. We talked a little this weekend about how it would change our personal lives if we could just live knowing that God loves us. I made a list (of course I did) of those changes:
- I would stop living for others
- I would turn all that wasted time asking God why for just praising Him
- I would stop obsessing about all the little things throughout the day that people say or do that get to me
- I wouldn't be so afraid to try things
- I would have much more confidence
That's just a quick peek at my list. It goes on and on.
This weekend was very revealing to me. I'm so glad that I didn't cave into the evil one and bail. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to go and that Paulo had the freedom to stay here with the boy. I am so blessed by God. Why?