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On The Giving & The Receiving of Love

flower walk, pink and treesGod knows how to love you.

He knows what’s going to reach you. He knows how to show you love in a way that will connect with you and make its truest mark on you.

He doesn’t love like people do.

People have loved you, but not perfectly. Sometimes, their love has manifested as dominance and even control. And it scares you, makes you build your invisible boundaries so that people can see you but can’t know you. You are open and honest and don’t hide your true self from anyone… but never do you give yourself to anyone. You let them see, but don’t let them touch. Because if they can touch, they can hurt. You don’t want that to happen to you anymore. So you hold up your invisible boundaries, so that you are visible but not truly vulnerable.

You know love is giving. That love is always a risk. But the cost… you’re not sure you’re truly willing to pay it.

She tells you that to love is to be willing to be broken for their sake. And that in order to be loved, you must make yourself vulnerable to receive what they give… which makes you vulnerable to the risk of being hurt. You know she’s right. You want to listen to her.

But you realize that in your efforts to keep people from controlling you, you have begun to act controlling toward them. You’ve learned to maneuver conversations and interactions so that you can keep anyone at a subtle distance, to protect against the chance of them hurting you. And when He shows you that you’ve even extended that to how you relate with Him… it terrifies you. Because who is He, truly, if He isn’t the image you’ve crafted of Him for yourself? If you can’t ignore pieces of Him and pretend He’s someone He might not be?

You pray a prayer you can feel the danger pulsating throughout: “Reveal your true self to me. Help me to accept the way you want to love me, even if it’s not a way I’d ask for.”

He starts answering. But not in ways you expected. And you even expected the unexpected.

He shows you a young man. One who is sweet and humble, but not without being strong and bold. The young man leaves soon, but not without searing that image in your mind. Part of you slowly begins to believe those things can coexist, gentleness and strength. Part of you begins to see that strength makes you feel small, but doesn’t have to in the ways it has before. Instead of intimidating and scaring you, this strength can make you feel safe. You don’t have to feel powerless. You can feel wrapped in it, and it can warm the winter in you. Among the wild mess inside you, there’s a moment of clarity, and you realize that is what’s happening.

You realize it is Him doing it.

You see that His love is meeting you in ways that will get through to you. He’s been going at your pace. Instead of demanding you change so that you can be loved, He has been entering what’s there, even your vices, and loving you. Not simply in it, but with it. Anything, He says, to be with you.

Anything to love you.

He knew what would reach you. You hid, but He still saw you and knew you. He became the shape that would fit the hole you’d found yourself in.

He knew the deep desires you barely knew existed in your heart, and He entered them, met them in ways you wouldn’t have thought. You didn’t think to want these things, because you didn’t believe you were the kind of person who would ever have them. But He brought love home to you, in a bouquet of flowers bigger and more elegant than anything you’d ask for. It blew you into wide-open wonder and gratitude. But you weren’t looking at the flowers when you thanked Him– you just looked at Him. You met His eyes with your teary ones, and you just looked at Him. Because He was the gift. He didn’t only give you flowers; He had given you His heart. Himself.

Love is giving. The giving of yourself for their sake. And He knows that more than anyone. He always has.

He’s been doing it right under your nose this whole time.

You thought you had to do the hard work of breaking down all the lies that live in your core before you could let yourself be loved. You tried to take steps to do so, and it was beautiful and brave of you. But He chuckles, and He murmurs into your ear that only one thing has ever been necessary.

All you had to do was lean into Him, and let Him love you.

So that’s what you do. You close your eyes, lean against His chest, feel Him wrap you close.

And you let Him love you.

“Simple trust is your participation.”   –Eve by Wm. Paul Young

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Echoes of Eden

Song of Songs 7:1-10–

[continuing with HE]

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. Your two breasts are like fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses. How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine.


It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.

     What I found: Let me say this first: you don’t need to feel awkward or uncomfortable when you read today’s passage. God says I am your husband (Jeremiah 3:14), and all the things He says to you in this part of the book are whispered privately to you when you read them. To me, this just proves His love even further! God is a respectful (but passionate) lover and sees us as the treasure. He doesn’t take advantage of us or force us to love Him, but He is fiercely jealous for us. In this case, that’s a good thing! His jealousy is not like ours; it’s made of passion for us and a desire to give us the best things for us. I adore how many times in the book “HE” tells “SHE” all the things he loves about her. Every line of his is about his love for her! I think that’s true about God, too: everything He says to you means “I love you.” (Kind of like Westley in The Princess Bride saying “As you wish.”! But not. Haha!)  Another thing that defies logic from today’s Scripture: He reverses the roles so that WE are the one desired. In Genesis 3:16, we hear one of the results of The Fall into sin for Eve: Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Isn’t that insane?! It just blows me away! The curse was a woman’s desire being for her husband, yet God has kept what things were like in Eden! His desire is for us, just like Adam’s was for Eve before The Fall. He gives us a glimpse of a perfect world when we have a relationship with Him! Do you see how deep, how incomprehensible His love for us is?! When He pours love over you, let Him. Be His; no else can love this way!

That’s what I found in today’s Scripture! What about you?

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The Door

Song of Songs 5:2-9–


I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking. “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.” I had to put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer. The watchmen found me as they went about the city; they beat me, they bruised me, they took away my veil, those watchmen of the walls. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love.


What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you adjure us?

     What I found: I found a masterful portrait of myself in this; there’s a date written by it in my Bible. I’m sure you’ve been there, too, so let’s take a closer look into ourselves, the what and the why. This part of the book is one of the deepest to me. The first sentence sets the tone– that even in weariness, our hearts long for God. No matter where we are or what’s happening to us, even if we don’t realize it, our desire for Him is so deep. We need Him, and not only because He sustains us physically, but He fulfills us emotionally. I heard once that immaturity says “I love you because I need you,” while maturity says “I need you because I love you.” I think that our side of a relationship with God usually starts with the former statement. We commit our lives to Him and try to love Him because we know we need Him. However, when the relationship begins to mature and grow, we realize that we’ve truly fallen in love with Him, and that creates an even greater need inside us. There is such depth to this part of the book, this is only the beginning! Has God ever suddenly awakened you to Himself? Where you realize right then, after such a long time, something He’s been telling you? In the case of the girl in our passage, He woke her up to tell her that she shut Him out and left Him out in the rain. And He spoke words of love over her even in this! God does that! No matter what He says, it always comes with an “I love you.” Okay– we know she loves Him and was eager for Him. So, why didn’t she let Him in? Didn’t she just open up to Him in the passage right before this one? What changed? Little do we know that she hesitated for the same reason we do: she thought she had to be perfect for Him. She forgot that His love is pure, not based on what she does. She became so consumed with keeping His love that she forgot to revel in it. Are you there? I have been there many times, and when I’m honest with myself I know I will be again. The good news: He will always knock on my door and speak truth over me. I have to be sure, in those moments, not to do what she did in her first response: she left her part for Him to do. It’s crazy when you think about it! God does so much, even more than the human race can see all together, so when He asks us to do something, it is so little. BUT, it is still the job He entrusted to us, and important. He just wants you to open the door to Him, to let Him in. He’s ready, but will only do what you let Him. Still: while you may choose not to let Him in sometimes, you will never, EVER lose Him. Never. When you think He’s gone, He’s not. Don’t look for Him in the world; look for Him right where you are, because that’s where you’ll find Him. Open the door despite all fear, let Him inside you. Ignore all voices but His. Don’t let them tell you that He isn’t worth it. Don’t listen to the doubts when you know in your heart what is true. God is there, knocking at your door, because He wants you.

     What did you find in our passage today? About yourself? About God?