Why do I have to be something for them? Can't they just love me where I am? Didn't Jesus die for me when I was yet a sinner?
The tears welled up, spilled over, ran hot frustration, soul-seared anguish down my cheeks.
I didn't intend to write more about The Purse. But it seems God wasn't - isn't - finished telling me that love story yet.
Sunday's drive took us past our grocery stop, past the beach, past the church we've begun to visit. It took us into conversation, a sharing about love and cherish and how much he wants me to feel treasured and how I don't because I wall me off and try not to think about love most of the time, even though I think about it all the time.
We talked of love, of need, of our high-need baby who demands of me all the time and of our baby who opens his heart up to me so that I can't help but respond.
And we began to talk about God and His love, and burning questions met cool air and thoughts I'd not encountered about behavior and how it affects others and how easy it is for us to fall into behavior-oriented expectation and leave real love so far behind in the dailiness of our survival.
God isn't a Purse for meeting needs. He is a Person.
He is Love.
Love requires nothing of her, nothing of me. But Love hopes everything for us. Bears everything from us. Believes all things are possible - even the redemption of our souls. Love hoped and believed and bore so much it sent Him to a Cross to die and live again to take the weight of our condemnation. Love lived our life, knew our desperation, grasped our need, died our death once for all.
His Person met our person. This is love, relationship, face to face, hand to hand, heart to heart, a person meeting a person - where they are.
When I carried The Purse around with me, I felt strong enough. My need to be needed opened small doors into the lives of others as I parceled out anything I could give. I didn't need to be broken. I didn't need to be fixed. I was the fixer. The Purse was my performance. The "love" I gave wasn't love at all.
As The Purse became too much to carry and I couldn't meet the needs I saw, I reached for justifications. No one was meeting my needs the way I would have met theirs. Didn't they see how empty I was? I grew heavy with bitter, reacted against everything they said about love, walled myself silent, learned to say "no" because it was healthier for me.
I slow-broke into heart-realms only Love could see behind the prickles and thorns and lashing-out.
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
- Rom. 5:6-8
It was in the tears He met me. In the screaming, weeping real of me, He made His love known to me, love that reached into my dust and my bitter and taught me to move again, however stiffly.
I have begun to learn that giving isn't meant to be a burden I carry, that love isn't about the shoulds or the needs or the obligation. The love I was giving before was all about that. I hated love then. I didn't want it from anyone else.
But God - His Love frees. It justifies freely, forgives quickly, without reproach. It opens doors and opens hearts to the becoming-one that Jesus prayed in John 17.
I am coming to see that love is intentional. It must be, or it could not bear, believe, hope, endure all things. It is not an "I give you this, so you will give me that in return" (did I really live in that expectation? forgive me, you who knew!). Love says, "If you never change to be what I want you to be, still I have given to you."
Jesus died for the whole world. God so loved the whole world that He sent Him.
The work of God is to believe Him, and Jesus Christ who He sent. A Spirit-work accomplished in grace, faith that is the gift of God.
His work is not need-meeting.
My work is not need-meeting.
It is loving as He first loved me.
Oh, that I might know the fullness of His love...
(Image © Informal Moments Photography)