I was listening to a love song. A person came to mind (or maybe to heart) when I heard it. And I immediately felt guilty.
I grew up in a culture that told teenagers their romantic feelings and desires were something they needed to get rid of. And if they couldn’t shake those feelings and desires no matter how hard they tried, they had to direct them toward Jesus instead.
“Jesus loves you more than a man ever could,” I was told innumerable times. And when I’d have a crush and it just wouldn’t go away, I would reprimand myself for not letting Jesus be enough for me. I loved Him so deeply. But I didn’t have confidence that He was satisfied with me; I believed He was demanding I love Him more and love Him differently. I didn’t believe my genuine love was enough for Him.
When I was told Jesus loved me more than another person could, the application was always: “So you better give Him credit for that.”
Back in October, when I heard that love song, I felt guilty. Because I wanted to sing it about a person, and what’s left of teenage Tessa immediately pointed an accusing finger and told me I couldn’t. I had to sing it to Jesus, or I shouldn’t be singing it.
But then I heard the whisper:
“What if I sang it to you?”
A bit of all of it happened. And He healed something in me that day.
Jesus loves me. More than anyone else ever could. But instead of the response to that truth being guilt, He wants something different.
When He sang that love song to me, He wasn’t shaming me for any lack on my part (and He certainly wasn’t angry at me for having feelings toward a person). He helped me understand by using a song I could relate to: the way I felt for that person? It resembled how He felt about me. And the response He wanted– the response it naturally elicited from me– was not guilt or forced praise.
It was awe.
I had so much in me for that person; it swept me up just to be in possession of it. They didn’t have to do anything to maintain it. It was something living in me, for them. I loved them because of who they were, not because of anything they felt (or, more accurately, didn’t feel) toward me. It was overwhelming in a beautiful way. And finally it was beginning to connect– God goes through that concerning me?
I am a wildly imperfect person, yet I am able to love in measures like these. Why have I believed that God who is Love… would do less?
It would take more time for me to unpack these things. I’m still in the process; He’s still teaching me how to let Him love me. But I wrote in my journal that night, after the song ended:
“Maybe the whole reason we fall in love is so that we can grasp Him better.”