Make No Mistake About It: You’re Loved!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

I laid on my bed and bawled. My pillowcase was damp on the edge, and I was desperately trying to muffle my sobs because I knew, I just knew, If I didn’t, that my mother would hear me, and then she would walk in and gently ask, “What’s the matter, honey?”

That always makes it so much worse.

And the pain. It would never end. Because… He… [choking]… He didn’t like me!

That, my friend, is junior high. I don’t even remember that guy’s name. His face, yes. His name, no.

*****

You’ve probably doubted it. At least once in a while. You might even doubt it right now.

Everyone has that feeling from time to time. “Nobody loves me.” Sometimes, we even question whether someone likes us.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. “Except for Abraham Lincoln. Man, everybody loved that guy, right?” Wrong.

“Well, except for Mother Teresa. She was certainly someone everyone loved.” Wrong.

“Okay. Fine. Jesus. Everyone loved Jesus.” Wrong.

I think you get my point. Everyone has feelings of being unloved. But most of the time, those feelings are based on things we do (/or don’t do).

People didn’t get angry at Lincoln because he was a big jerk, but because he did something jerky. Or, as this example illustrates, he said something jerky:

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,”1

People didn’t think Mother Teresa was a big jerk. Probably ever. But they did (and some still do) think she was misguided (or worse, which you can see here), and some even think she’s in hell (some balderdash to that account is here—I don’t want people to think I make up everything on this blog).

As for Jesus, I think the crucifixion is all the example I need. (You can Google that, if you need to, here.)

When someone doesn’t like people don’t like someone, it’s generally because of what they do. (Cheats at poker, for example.) Not because of who they are. (Left-handed brunette.) God’s not like that. God loves us in spite of who we are.

Let’s anthropomorphize a bit here. (It makes things easier.) God never has a moment when, looking down, God says, “That Cynthia, she thinks she’s doing okay, but I’ve got news for her. She’s really quite a loser. In fact, by My standards, she does some pretty nasty things. That’s just wrong. I don’t even like her.” Guess what? That never happens. Nope. (God didn’t even say that about Hitler. I know, I wasn’t going to bring up Hitler. I hate bringing up Hitler. But, you’ll have to admit, in this case, it’s pretty useful. Because… Hitler.)

I, as a Christian, can point to various Biblical passages when I talk about how God loves me (and you).

But other faith traditions also believe this. Rabbi Shohama Harris Wiener writes poignantly of this in his article, “Does God Love Me?” For a Muslim perspective, there is this lovely piece by Quthrun Nada Djamil,  “Allah loves His servant more than a mother who loved children.”

I can feel confident that God loves me. So can you. Rest assured, you are loved.

_____

1That nonsense was uttered on September 18, 1858, in Charleston, Illinois, at the fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, the transcript of which you can read here. Obviously, Lincoln’s position evolved over time.

*****

I’m joining up with the delightful Holley Gerth for her series, “Coffee for Your Heart.” You can read about it by clicking on the illustration at the top, and read more entries (or link up yourself) here.

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Have a cuppa: Encouragement

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150“What encouraging words do you want the people you care about to hear as they begin a new year?”

That was the prompt that Holley Gerth gave on January 1 to begin her new series: Coffee for Your Heart. (You can read about it by clicking on the illustration at left, and read more entries, or link up yourself here.)

If there’s one thing I learned in the past year (and something I should’ve learned a long time ago, that’s for sure), it’s that life is full of hard things. It’s not easy. But that doesn’t mean give up.

I know, it’s very tempting.

We see videos on YouTube, we watch movies, we see television shows, maybe even a person demonstrating something at our local library. They all have one thing in common: they make it look easy. Effortless. Piece of cake.

But we all know it’s not really like that. So why do we give up? Because it’s haaaaard…

Vintage PianoI know I got into this rut (and it was years in the making, believe you me) where I got to the point where if I couldn’t figure something out in about fifteen minutes of honest effort, I believed I wasn’t meant to do it. I mean, obviously, God didn’t give me a special talent for intuitively mastering Gimp, or learning HTML (let alone cascading style sheets), so, clearly, these things must not be something I need to master.

And it’s true, I don’t really need to master Gimp or cascading style sheets to make my life meaningful. But there were a lot of other things that this “it’s too hard” attitude trickled into. Learning how to budget my money. Returning to playing the piano. Understanding the design theory behind becoming a better photographer. Singing in a church choir. I was no longer learning almost anything, because…haaaaard. I wasn’t even participating in a great many things I already knew how to do (at least a little) because…hard.

My life got dull, tedious, and so very sad.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Allison Vesterfelt, in her book, Packing Light, says:

“I think sometimes when things get hard, too many of us assume we’re moving in the wrong direction. … Like if we’re doing life right, it’s supposed to be easy.”

When I read this book last summer, this hit me like a ton of bricks. I distinctly remember looking up from the page and staring for a long time out the window in stupefaction. When had I stopped understanding this? Me, a pianist? A person who had spent weeks learning a single piece of classical music. What was I thinking?

It might be hard. But it will be worth it.

Yes. Yes it will.

And, oh, let me tell you. You will feel the most sublime sense of satisfaction when you accomplish that hard thing.

Relish that. Dance around to that music. Roll around in that sensation. Feel that good feeling of accomplishment. Because that feeling of satisfaction will carry you through the next hard thing. And the next.

Oh, things will probably never get easy. Really worthwhile things are never easy.

But they are worth it.

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God-Sized Dreams: Wanting More

God-Sized-Button-150x150 I’m afraid to dream. I am.

This week’s assignment (being shared here) was:

Link-up your blog post sharing: What do you really want more of in your life? Will you dare to say it out loud? Hint: it probably means having less of something too {ex: more joy, less stress}.

So, for me, it’s pretty basic. I want more confidence that pursuing ANYTHING in the way of a future will not be constantly derailed by depression, OCD or ADHD.

Up to this point in my entire life, every single dream (Dreams? Let’s just ratchet that down to a vague idea.) I’ve ever entertained for more than a month has been yanked off the tracks by the mental illnesses I struggle with. (I’m not even getting treatment right now—not my choice–so that’s not helping.) I can’t bring myself to believe that all God wants for me is to make it through my days without killing myself. Puh-leeze…

I’m taking baby steps right now, just to fight the unrelenting numbness. It helps. This month, it’s getting out of bed every single day, without fail. (If you suffer from depression, or know anyone who does, you’ll realize how much of an accomplishment this is.) I’m helping my daughter with her homework. I’m trying to clean the house and keep up. I’m taking my prescriptions to fight the anemia and the high blood pressure.

I’m reading Holley’s book, You Are Made for a God-Sized Dream. It’s a great book—really, it is. I just have a hard time believing that I, too, can have a God-sized dream. I’ve already learned one super encouraging thing: that a God-sized dream isn’t necessarily a huge, Mother Teresa-like, documentary-movie-worthy dream you’re going to hear about on the news, or from the pulpit at church. Thank God, really, because that probably isn’t going to happen. Holley writes,

I believe everyone has God-sized dreams. It’s not about how big or small they are, because [God] creates each one to perfectly fit the size of your heart.

How hopeful is that? Pretty hopeful, if you ask me. So, I just keep plugging away. I just keep asking, “Okay, God, where are we going with this? What do You have for me? I know You have something for me, I do.”

***

I feel like a fake, but I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and other ladies pursuing God-sized dreams at her blog here.