Embraces for Your Spirit · Testimonies · The Basics

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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Embraces for Your Spirit

Spring & The Winter in My Chest

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Spring has come early this year.

They told me the winter was going to be longer, but here we are now, the blossoms staring defiantly in their doubtful faces.

Part of me feels like I’m not ready. Like I need to finish winter, need to feel numb from the cold a little longer, need to stay under the covers in the chilly morning a few more times, need to let a snowfall isolate me. But I drive through the city every day, and the trees wave proudly at me with their new pink and white branches. They are accepting of it. They are living in the season they’ve been given even if it seems too early, even if there’s still a chance of the frost coming to stop their growth in mid-reach.

It is spring in the midst of winter.

The trees are growing and blossoming and reaching a new height of beauty at a time when it doesn’t seem ideal, doesn’t seem safe, doesn’t seem sensible. And would you look at that– they are still breathtaking.

The season may be wrong on paper, but the trees know. The bulbs in the ground know. The strange bush outside my window knows. The only one in the dark has been me.

This is the season. The time has come. It may seem premature, risky, illogical. Yet things are growing and beginning to take shape, and no one can control that. It is simply time.

And yes, it is very possible that the dreaded, looming frost could return and halt any progress being made. Everything could be ruined. But right now– right now— everything is growing. The time was right, and it began, without prompting or permission or a starting line. It simply knew it was time to begin.

Begin. Even when conditions are seemingly terrible, even when the cost could be great, even when sometimes you don’t understand (let alone everyone else)– you know it is time. You know. You feel the growth inside you and it aches to come out but you feel like you have to leave where you are first.

No. No. The growth is already happening. And you cannot control it, cannot contain it. You have to live in it. The spring you’ve been longing for is here. It feels like winter, but you know. He has told you, and you know. Listen. Rejoice in this growth that is starting to create changes in you. And go where they take you even if it doesn’t make sense.

Spring has come. Don’t let the winter in your chest keep you from it.