Responses · Testimonies

“Jesus Loves You More Than a Man Ever Could” – On Guilt & Falling in Love

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.

back at the pianoI 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.”



Life-Moving Messages {Part Two}

born-again bday 2012! stuffOver the course of the year, I’ve heard a few sets of messages that moved me deep in my core and spurred large-scale change in my heart and life. All were shared at my school, during the two-day conferences we had each semester. We would cancel all classes for those two days to invest in our spiritual growth, and it helped me not only stay sane during the school year, but transform my life indefinitely. I would definitely like to share my notes from those messages with you. They won’t be as well-organized or cohesive as the messages themselves, as they’re simply the things I wrote down as I listened and processed, but there are some incredible truths within these. I hope you hear something from them that you needed.

This set was shared by Pastor Alex Michel on the second day of the fall semester conference. His emphasis was emotional health and spiritual healing. [You can read the first set from Pastor Alex here.]

Message Four

  • God forgives you so you can change, not so you can simply stop feeling guilty.
  • Experience your pain; stuffing it away is running from it.
  • Grief is not just for death. Let yourself feel loss.
  • Compassion = feeling another’s pain yourself. It helps us walk alongside them.
  • Romans 8:17
  • Good pain = dealing with reality; is redemptive. Bad pain = repeating old patterns and avoiding the suffering it would take to change them (wasted pain).
  • Grief is the toughest pain. You have to voluntarily enter it.
  • Ps. 34:18, Ro. 12:15, Job 30:25, Matthew 5:4
  • Grief is a choice to honesty face losses so that we can experience resurrection. To have new life, first you must die.
  • Our culture hates anything that makes us feel weak.
  • Feeling better does not equal becoming better. Don’t settle for false peace.
  • If you don’t grieve, you carry losses that are still living.
  • Creating ideals out of pain is dangerous, because you see that as the salvation.
  • Dealing with it does not equal swimming in it forever. See it through, but don’t set up camp.
  • The process of grief:
    • The loss itself
    • Protest, not wanting it to be true
    • Despair/depression, giving in
    • Sadness, loss, and grief proper; walking through it
    • Resolution and resurrection
  • Be real about it, not defined by it.
  • We need love, comfort, and support from people in our grief. We also need time and room and something structured.
  • Grief puts it on the hard drive instead of the ram. Minimizing it doesn’t help, either.

Message Five

  • Ministry is not greater than people.
  • There will be people in heaven, not ministries. Invest wisely.
  • Matthew 23:13-15, 23-24
  • What makes God upset is when you neglect people.
  • Putting ministry first leads to weariness. People are messy and hard, but they are what matter and therefore what fulfill.
  • “My people don’t need messages, they need a word from Me.”
  • Acts 1:8
  • Don’t ask for the gifts of the Spirit if you don’t intend to serve people.
  • Luke 22:42
  • “Be filled” is continuous. Continuous filling.