I didn’t think I would be writing this post tonight.
The one about my unbelief. The path of doubt I’ve chosen. The one where God’s mercy reached in, showering over me as I don’t deserve it.
But God knows better than I do. Tonight, I’m giving Him the words.
Tonight I want to talk about heartache. And loving someone when they don’t love you back. How painfully humiliating it is. How it chains you to doubt, restrains you from moving forward and steals your joy in Christ. Or at least it has stolen mine the past few days and I didn’t even realize it until tonight.
Relationships in your twenties are tenuous.
I wish someone would have told me that a few years back, or at least, provided me with some kind of armor so that the heartache wouldn’t penetrate my soul. But love has this way about it, where it rushes in unexpectedly. Then dashes out after it’s had enough. Love can’t be controlled like I thought it could when I read romance novels in high school. I really believed those stories were real. I believed in the hero sweeping in, rescuing the heroine. I believed in true love. No broken hearts. It didn’t involve fear of inadequacy. Or scenes where the heroine had to compete with dozens of other beautiful women for the prince’s attention. She was all he adored. Her insecurity didn’t assert itself in vicious sarcasm. The certainty of long term commitment was present in each of those stories. Along with contentment and hope. In all my teenage idealism, I held on to the hope that it would someday happen to me.
But no one could have prepared me for this season of valleys. I want to say that I’m fine now. My heart’s moved on and healed. But still, the doubts I wrestle with daily continue to taunt the secure hope I have in Christ.
You see, I’ve been struggling with the whys. Why this pain. Why here and now. But God has been showing me that when we go through seasons like this, it shows us more of His character. Specifically the nature of His love.
In the abstract, I always thought love was this feeling. This emotion of joy and chemistry and excitement you get that makes another person irresistible to you. Over the years, God has been showing me what it really means to love, though.
Love means sacrifice. It means being hurt and choosing to forgive. It sometimes means caring for another person more than they cared for you. It means tearing up when they experience joy and new seasons without you. It means being broken. Sobbing when you thought you were finished healing. But healing is a process. As is love. And knowing Jesus.
When Jesus came to die, He chose the cross when we were still in our sin. He chose to take on our sin, to be the propitiation for them so that we could know Him and spend eternity with Him. But it began with Him recognizing that many would reject Him.
I am overcome by the fact that His grace continues today as He works in our lives, as He sanctifies and justifies many. Because the ones He sanctifies and justifies were once His enemies. Completely turned their backs on Him. Did not reciprocate His love.
It’s the story of Israel, who although God chose to love them, abandoned God for perceived “better prospects” of kings, idols and their own will. It’s the story of Jonah and Peter – how while they were yet sinners, Christ died for them. (Romans 5:8).
It’s my story, too. Wrapping my mind around this is flooring, because I’ve been so reticent to accept this lesson. To learn and grow from it. But it’s so beautiful. Sometimes God brings us through seasons of heartache in order to show us how He loves us when we forsake Him. When we sin against Him and break His heart. When we were still His enemies, and He pursued us still.
Love is worth it and it’s found at the cross. It’s found in the promised King who will come again to save us. I hope you know that Your heartache helps you experience God in a deeper way. That through your pain you can see that through forgiveness and love, regardless of the unrepentance of the person who wronged you, you can know joy. You can experience mercy. And true love that never fails.