It should be no surprise that God is consistently and simply trying to give us the message that we are loved wholly and completely. Yet it has come to me as a surprise at many moments in my life. Here are three such moments.
The first time that I felt like God shattered my darkness was in 2006, as I lay in my apartment bed unable to sleep.It had been a year since I broke up with the man I loved, and I was still fighting off the self-loathing that the rejection gave me. I was in a cloud of torment– negative thought patterns about myself, fear about my future, and deep loneliness. And then, like a lightening bolt, the words to a Psalm that we sang in church growing up came to mind….
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I have called you and you are mine
The phrases kept repeating over and over until I wept with the knowledge that it is true.
The next big moment that I remember God’s voice breaking through my thoughts in an unpredictable way was in 2011. I was walking a labyrinth. As I wound my way toward the center, I was thinking of all the needs in the world and wondering where to put my energy…where did God see the greatest need that I could help remedy? As I stood in the center, I looked up and asked, “What is in the center of your heart, Lord?” I expected some social justice issue to be the answer. Yet he said,
I couldn’t believe it! How could I be the most important thing to him when there were so many greater causes and deeper sufferings? But it was reverberating like a gong in my head and was clearing out all other thoughts. There was no question: I am in the center of his heart always. I am important to him and deeply loved and treasured.
Then in 2018, Jesus gently spoke to me. The bible passage I had just read was the one where Jesus says that if you love him, you will keep his commands. I was resisting turning to him to ask what he was commanding me to do because I feared it would be something difficult or scary. I worried that he might reprimand me for something I had done. I do not know why I had these fears since he had never done that to me before, so I timidly asked what he wanted me to do. His answer,
I command you to take care of yourself.
It was my greatest task, my most important task, because I was the only one who could do it. (No one but me could change the negative thought patterns in my head. No one could force me to exercise or do the things that I thought I didn’t have time to do.) He had given me something that he treasured, that he wanted me to take care of, and that was me. Right then, I knew that I had been neglecting some of my own needs in order to take care of others. It was almost like I had needed his permission to put the attention on myself. And he was not asking, but commanding me to do it. This wasn’t difficult, or scary, or something I did wrong. This was a blessing and a reminder of who I am.
Know that you are loved,
and you not only deserve,
but need self-care.
Make yourself a priority today.