God’s love has frustrated me.

I remember when I was 17, I went to Europe to spend 6 months at a Bible school in Germany.  This may sound ‘loserish’ but it was one of the best years of my life. I got to travel and see things, all on my own and independant.  I made amazing friends but one thing I didn’t see happening was a major crisis of faith at that time.

Did I really believe what I had grown up saying I believed?

One of my issues was that Christianity, in my head, was often a long list of the do’s and don’ts.  Rather than this nice picture of God’s love, I felt pressure to be obedient to a dominant master of some kind; constantly under His thumb and glaring eye.  I remember hearing God loved me, but it didn’t quite resonate. I operated more out of guilt and obligation.

Those two make for heavy luggage…a heavy burden to carry.

I remember my friend, Jen, and I were on a train in Germany travelling to who knows where. As we sat there a piece of garbage rolled up beside my feet. In my heart I had a quick debate. 

“I don’t want to pick it up, but I SHOULD pick it up, shouldn’t I?  I’m a Christian! I’ve got to show God’s love.  Crap.”  

I realize this is childish, but it was very real to me at the time.  Out of the blue, I said to Jen “I should pick that up because I love Him and that is a loving thing to do. That’s why I should pick it up.  Not because I’m supposed to!”

Recently in my devotional, Ann Voskamp quoted a Rabbi who said “The sun rises, not out of obligation to you, but out of affirmation OF you.”  What love. That really hit me. I needed to hear that…to hear God’s love worded that way. 

It’s now taped to a window in my kitchen where I see the sun rising every morning. 

He does nothing because He has to. 

That’s God’s love.

He gives us a different sunrise every day because that’s God’s love.  He gives us the beauty of a snowflake because He wants us to see his creativity.  Even the things we are scared of, like bees, are beautiful if you don’t run in the opposite direction when one comes near. 

Giving us beauty is not his JOB…He doesn’t get the Sunday blues knowing that Monday is coming. You know that saying:

“Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? 

God has never worked a day in His life.

All these things He does because He loves us and wants to give us good things.

That’s God’s love.  

But only a week and a half ago did the opposite message hit me.

I should do things in my life, live my life,  not out of an obligation to Him, but as an affirmation OF Him.  That should be MY love.

I’ve been spending the last 15 months of my life trying to follow in Ann Voskamp’s footsteps – taking inventory of the daily blessings in my life.  From the curve of Summer’s nose and her cool, pudgy cheek on my cheek to the way a fresh snowfall looks like God went crazy with a bag of icing sugar.

I’ve NEVER noticed these things before. And in seeing all the crazy, weird, and sometimes hard ways that He has blessed me, my heart has been overwhelmed by God’s love…not his dislike for me as I once thought.

At times, I’ve truly felt IN LOVE with Him. Why would I ever feel like I should do things out of obligation? As if to a slave master, or to someone with their hand on a grenade ready to deploy at the smallest screw up of mine? No!

Why not make my choices and actions based on the fact
that He loves me like crazy??? 

My love should be because of God’s love.

Clean up the dishes – not because it is my job as a mother, but because He has given me 4 amazing kids who live and breath and make me laugh and fill my table with bodies of life. Do laundry because He gave me crazy kids who are out there living it up every day – and living it up means dirty clothes…and my hard-working husband, what a gift He gave me after such heartache. 

And you know…how He blessed me with the heartache. I took marriage and kids for granted. I saw myself as someone undeserving and therefore, I believed I should just accept how someone treated me because I was lucky to just have someone at all. And I wanted to miscarry my baby so badly…I was terrified but she ended up being the vehicle that God used to give me strength.

That’s God’s love.

They were dark days, don’t get me wrong.  But even in darkness there is beauty that maybe can’t be seen. Those days were so painful but I wouldn’t change it at all because it has led to good.

Nervousness, loneliness, sadness, helplessness and hopelessness all have beauty.
They must. They push me towards a beautiful God.
That’s God’s love.

And then how extra beautiful are days where, like today, I stood on our balcony and watched our 4 kids play together and laugh together when, at one time in my life, the yard was empty? 

How amazing is it that I am sitting in my kitchen typing this because my family is all watching Star Wars – a movie I have no desire to see – but my heart aches to be near them? How funny is it to hear Blake tell my Summer to shut up so she can hear the movie when, 3 years ago, she didn’t have a sibling to snap at her?

God has blessed me with these specifics. And everyone’s specifics are different. But these are MINE. Why wouldn’t I do things as an affirmation OF him?  He has been good. He IS good. He WILL be good even in darkness. I have seen enough to know that. I hope. I hope I remember God’s love. 

So I don’t want to go forward today and do things out of obligation to Him…because I feel I should, or because that’s what I’ve been told I should do…I don’t have some slave master hanging over me.  I don’t have a bully lurking over me.  

“The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save.  He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.” 

Zephaniah 3:17

God's love

Singing over me…

What a different picture of God than the one I’ve had in my head all of these years. 

What a relief. Finally. No one is out to get me.

In fact, Someone is chasing after me to love me.

That’s God’s love.

Thank you, God, that You make the sun shine, not out of obligation to me, but as an affirmation of me.  Now help me to live my life as an affirmation of Your love for me.  

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