Ever since I was a child, I was abused, neglected, and the people who were supposed to protect me (my parents, the schools, my brothers, etc.) all abused and ignored me. They did not spend time with me. They did not encourage me. They did not show or tell me that I was important. So, I never developed the sense that I was loved.
Oh, I loved people. I loved them deeply. I cared for them and did everything I could to help them in any way that I could. But I never knew or felt what love was for myself. Even with my husband of thirteen years, I never FELT his love. (Oh, I knew that he loved me because of all of the wonderful things he did for me and the care and concern he showed for me and my well-being, but I could never feel in my heart what his love felt like. One day, I told him that I could not feel his love. He told me, “Somewhere inside you, you know I love you or you would not be with me.” I knew that was true because I would never be with someone who did not love me, but I could not FEEL that love.)
You see, it never occurred to me that someone–anyone–could love me with the same kind of love that I loved with. For, I love with my whole heart and feel deep passion and caring and concern for the well-being of others and I put others needs before my own. It never occurred to me that a person could feel those same things for me because all I had ever gotten (besides my husband and now my oldest sister, who is my best friend in the world) was abuse, neglect, and ridicule.
God used my sister (and my husband–but my husband has been gone for almost four years now and has not been around for the horrors that I have experienced in those four years) to show me what true love is.
My sister is a pastor. She loves people completely for who they are and does not try to change them. I am a smoker. My sister HATES smoking! And yet she loves me enough to not only allow me to smoke in her house (I do it on the porch out of respect for her), but she even jokes with me about it at times. She has never once condemned me or rebuked me.
My sister takes care of me. She always insists that I have the best of everything. She often gives up the last of what she has so that I will have it. (We get into arguments because I am the same way, so we’ll fight over who gets to give the other the best of whatever it is we are trying to give to the other.LOL) She listens to me without judgment. She prays for me. She spends time with me. She goes out of her way to show me how much she cares for me. And that is only a foreshadow of the love that God has for me and for you. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them tht fear him.” (Psalm 103:13) “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3), “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) ” (Ephesians 2:4,5), “Behold, whawt manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:” (1 John 3:1a)
You see, I had only had an intellectual knowledge of God’s love. I believed He loved me because the Word told me that He did. But I had not felt His love. But throughout this last year and all of the many trials and sufferings that I have had to endure, the kindness and the love of God were manifested and shown to me in such a way that there could no longer be any doubt that God loves me and loves me well. It is so true that “Thy gentleness has made me great.” (Psalms 18:35) He has been so kind and gentle with me as I have struggled with feelings of fear, anger, doubt, unbelief, frustration at both God and myself and a host of other emotions and feelings. At those times when I needed rebuke, the Lord did it gently. He never kicked me when I was down. He always built me up, encouraged me, and only then would he gently shine the light on whatever area in my life that needed working on. For the Word says, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of HIm: for whome the Lord loved he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:5,6) I appreciate Someone Who loves me enough to ccorrect me when I am wrong and steers me in the right direction, because if they did not, I would destroy myself and/or others. Now, that is love.
I can truly say that I wake up with a feeling of great joy and for the first time, love in my heart. Love FROM Someone, not love TO someone, as I had been loving all my life. There is a steadiness to my gate now and I do not walk around afraid of nebulous things. (I had been afraid of so many things, both seen and unseen. But perfect love casteth out fear, as it says in 1 John 4:18)
What a liberating feeling, to know at the age of 44, what love feels like. Oh, bless His Name! It is all because of Him and His love for me. And I am only discovering more and more about Him. I can hardly wait for what He has in store for me next! “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11)
I am loved. And I am at peace. And I am so thankful. So thankful.