“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us; God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love; not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:7-10
Have you told yourself you love you lately? If not, take a moment and do so. And then take a moment and ask God how much He loves you? How did He respond? Did you find the answer unexpected? What about when you told yourself you loved you? Did you find that difficult?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for: The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.”
Love seems so natural and so simple yet we struggle with it. We probably struggle with loving ourselves more than anything.
I think we are the hardest critics of ourselves. We see every fault, every failure. We know every hurt, every negative word said to us. I think these things aid us in the inability to truly love ourselves, to truly love the person God created in us. We fail to see the person God sees in us because of the awesome critics we are. So if you truly listened to God once you asked Him how much He loved you, I’m sure you received a very different answer than you expected. Sometimes, we just don’t have the capacity and the ability to see how unconditional God’s love is. It is a hard thing to grasp because of our sin and what we see within us.
I want to share a personal story of a young woman who knew God, yet didn’t have a friendship with Him. She had not allowed Him to companion with her for many years throughout her life. Her vision of God was as a disciplinary, one who saw her faults and was displeased with her. One day, she found herself lost. She looked up to the Heavens and began to pray. As the days went by, she began to notice this growing desire for something. She began to read books about God and her faith. As she read and as she went to Mass, her heart began to desire more. As the “bread of life” was raised before her eyes, she felt this ache in her heart. When she approached the Eucharist, she felt this grave anticipation and hunger as her heart began to beat faster. She had received Holy Communion for years and had not felt this deep desire to consume the Host of her Lord. As she consumed it and drink the blood of Christ, she felt this warmth consume her and immediately a tear fell from her cheek. In that instant she realized the love that her Heavenly Father had for her. Every Mass thereafter, she longed to receive Jesus, to feel herself being transformed through the love He has for her in the sacrifice He made for her and does each time she goes to Mass. This desire continued to grow throughout the days, the weeks and months. She found herself almost daily at the foot of the Host, soaking in the very presence of Jesus in Adoration. His comforting embrace in her sorrows of her days were her “refuge and fortress.” She couldn’t wait to rush off to go have lunch with Him, to soak in His love that radiated in the silence of her heart when she was before Him in the chapel. This love grew beyond what she could ever have imagined. He was present when she was weak, when she needed comfort from her tears. He gave her strength to endure the days ahead and courage to follow Him. He protected her and calmed her fears and lifted her up on eagles wings to fly over the sea of despair into the heights of the mountains. As she saw all that He was doing in her heart and in her life, she began to place her trust in Him. Her life, through suffering, flourished in love as she had found her first true love and entrusted her life into His hands. She had discovered a loving friendship that had been pulling her from the day she was born that would fulfill her greatest desire of communion with Him into an unimaginable happiness – through her joy and pain. She knew this flame of love would never burn out. It may be a little dim at times but will always be refueled through the thirst and hunger that is always fulfilled in the love of her Heavenly Father and the sacrifice of her Lord as she receives the grace from the “bread of life” and “the fruit of the vine.”
God meets us where we are and when we are open and ready to receiving Him. Sometimes that time is in the midst of a trial in our lives. When that time comes, a true love story is sprouted. It is an unimaginable love that grows beyond anything you have experienced. If you haven’t opened your arms to receive the love God is waiting to share with you, today may not be a bad day to start. Blessings always.