Love.  Worthy. Flawless.

What does this really mean to us to you?  To me?

A few months ago, I can honestly tell you I did not understand the meaning of what these three words meant.  A few months ago, I thought I was the only one who should give love, make others feel worthy and I had so many flaws I was not worthy of love.  I did not understand that I too was lovable, worthy and in God’s eyes, flawless.

Funny how life works out.  I have learned, and believe me, it hit me like a ton of bricks – I am totally worthy, no matter my flaws, of love, and when you are surrounded by good, Christian, loving people, that’s exactly what you get.

Now, I by no means mean I am perfect now, or need only Christians in my life, I certainly have acquaintances I see once a month, people who in the moment will express concern – but when push comes to shove they are busy with their own lives to really have concern for anyone else.  In the past, this to me, came across as people truly don’t care – but through the church, the Bible and therapy, I have learned those previously in my life, may love, but they are by no means showing the love Christ calls us to give.

You see, I was thinking and truly believing, I was the ONLY person on the face of the earth with problems, flaws, mistakes, etc., (believe me this list could go on for HOURS!), and the reason I have two failed marriages, friends who never call, family who turn their back during times of trouble, was because I was so worthless I could never EVER be truly loved.

So, as my family turned their backs and dug me deeper and deeper into a hole of “you make all the mistakes and we are so perfect” I felt I was drowning in despair.  No matter how I reached out, how many times I said I was sorry, how many times I asked for forgiveness, how many times I strove to meet their demands and did exactly what I said I would do – it would NEVER be good enough.  I asked for them to come to church and meet with ministers, told them the past was the past and it didn’t matter to me, said I was sorry for EVERYTHING I had ever done wrong, confessed all my sins, asked for forgiveness for being hysterical when I found my daughter missing, for not knowing how to handle this precarious situation, I sent my phone records when they said I had not been calling like I told them I would, asked them to come to therapy with me…you know what I got in return?  NOTHING. More mean messages, more “we are better than you attitude” and more feelings of “you’ll never be worthy of our love”.  Okay, I understand.  So where do I go from here?

I went to church.  I went to therapy.  I actually listened to the words of every Christian song I heard, I read my Bible deeper, I went to Bible study and actually shared my life story with the people at my table.  You know what I received at church?

You guessed it!!!  Love, forgiveness for my mistakes, I was told I was worthy of Christ’s love because God sent His one and only son for whoever would believe in HIM would have everlasting life.

WHAT?

God sent HIS ONLY SON to die for me?  Because God loves me?  God LOVES me?  GOD loves ME?  How could this be?  How – after years of being the only person the face of the earth who makes mistakes could I be worthy of God’s love?  The omnipotent being.  The sovereign Lord?  The one who made the heavens and the earth?  God – who knows all, sees all, judges all?  He loves me?  Yes, God loves me. I had to say it again, God Loves Me. And this thought hit me so profoundly in my winter table groups, I realized I needed to commit myself to God and show Him I see his precious gift and will serve Him for the rest of my days.  How could I not?  He loves me, sees my worth as His child and made me flawless.

So, I talked to the church about being baptized again.  Yes, I did it at 10 and again at 20, but the urge to do so again was so incredibly strong, I could not say no.  While talking to a minister about this process and explaining to him how I was feeling and I didn’t feel worthy of God’s gift because of my past – but I am, I so am.  I am worth love of the earthly family God gave me too, but evidently they have their own junk to work out, so I’ll let them do it.  I’ll know God has truly entered their hearts and convicted them of reconciliation when my phone rings.  And, until that time, I will remain in silent prayer for their hearts and the broken relationships.

God doesn’t call us to love “if”.  God doesn’t tell us love is about not forgiving.  God doesn’t tell us love is about being perfect.  God doesn’t tell us love is about persecuting others.  God doesn’t tell us love is about judging someone else’s mistakes.  God doesn’t tell us love is about turning your back on those who don’t live up to your standards.  God doesn’t tell us love is about holding a grudge.  God doesn’t tell us love is about being disrespectful.

The 13th Chapter of Corinthians tells us exactly what love is:

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Yes, the greatest of these is love.  And I am so thankful, grateful, honored, humbled, joyful, excited, and so many other adjectives I don’t even know how to express…I found love.  True love.  I went into the water of baptism my old shameful, unloved self, and come out a new creation, one who is worthy, one who is flawless, one who – despite all imperfections – is loved.  Yes, I am loved.  And I am waiting patiently with hope in faith soon my daughter will return to me and I can give her all the love I have found.  Not that I didn’t give her every ounce of my love before, but she’ll be amazed at how much more I love her….I will wait, to give my love, I will wait…and wait…and wait….until she comes home…..

Until then, you’ll find me at the gym reading the Bible on my kindle, or after dinner every night, studying the sermon for the week, or at work with a new weekly Bible verse on an index card reminding me how much God loves me and all He wants in return is for me to love Him, and others, like Christ loved.  I can do that.  I am totally capable of love – always have been always will be.  But now, I truly understand what it is to accept true, Godly love.  Love is the greatest gift I have ever received.  Godly, perfect love.  When I look in the mirror now, I see God’s love, for He waited for me, held His arms out to me, and accepted me in that big family of His.  A family full of compassion, respect, joy, peace which all added together equals love…yes, the greatest of these…it is love.

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