Proven Love

I am not the daughter that God deserves.

I feel like I tell Him that all the time. Whenever I really mess up and I feel the weight of all my actions on my shoulders, I just don’t see how God can put up with me, let alone love me the way He does.

I’ve always been a generally good person, or so I like to think. Most of my teenage years were spent either in church or with my youth group. I waited until I turned 21 to taste even a drop of alcohol. I’ve never smoked weed or done hard drugs. I try my hardest to be friendly to people, to love and accept people. By these guidelines, it’s safe to say that I’m not an awful person.

But I’m by not perfect by any means or stretch of the imagination.

God has given me the gift of words. I may not have much going for me, but I do have that. I can take something simple and make it sound amazing. I can sugarcoat something absolutely horrible. I can be extremely blunt if I need to be. I can beat around the bush. However you need it to sound, I can phrase it that way.

This ability hasn’t always seemed like such a blessing. In fact, for a while in my teenage years, my words hurt people more than help them. I would be sarcastic with friends who didn’t understand that I was being sarcastic. I would say something funny at a serious time, thinking that because I deal with things using humor that other people did too. (Honestly, when things go bad, if I don’t laugh, I’m going to cry, and I’d really like to avoid crying if at all possible.)

I also have a bad habit of being brutally honest when I’m mad. You know how a lot of people say things they don’t mean when they get angry? Not the case with me. I tell you exactly what I think when I get upset, and any chance of me sugarcoating what I’m saying goes right out the window. (In case you didn’t know, I’m a redhead, and I’m not exactly destroying any stereotypes here.)

If you’re familiar with the song “Bite My Tongue” by Relient K, let me just tell you that when I first heard that song, my reaction was, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this song was written about me.”

I still struggle from time to time with realizing what consequences my words have, but not nearly as much as I used to. I realize now that I used to spend more time shattering people than I did helping them collect the pieces of themselves and heal.

Of course, that’s not the only flaw I’ve ever had. I’ve lied, cheated, and disregarded my parents. I’ve judged others when I had absolutely no right to do so. I’ve let hatred grow in my heart. I’ve focused a lot of energy on making other people feel as bad as they made me feel instead of demonstrating the love and mercy of God.

I also have a habit of making other things a higher priority in my life than God. To be honest, it’s probably my most embarrassing habit. I’m a pretty obsessive person, and I’ve made my peace with that. When I really enjoy something, I usually don’t just like it, I love it. And more often than not, it involves at least one other human being. Whether it’s a band or an actor on a TV show or doing something with friends, I often find myself bumping God down a notch to put someone above Him.

What’s even worse is that it doesn’t stop at putting people above God. I put inanimate objects and concepts ahead of Him, like money or success. We all know that money and the love of it is a slippery slope. I know no one particularly likes failure, but I have a fear of it. I’ve let my fear overpower my faith in God before.

The best part about all of this is that God loves me despite all of it. He always has, and He always will.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (NRSV).

It’s my favorite Bible verse. It’s a refreshing reminder that no matter how bad of a daughter I am, my heavenly Father loves me more than I can ever know or understand. I don’t need to worry when I haven’t been a shining example of what a Christian should be or even what a good person should be because I know that God loves me anyway.

What’s even better news is that the same is true for you.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “This is all well and good, but you don’t really know me. You don’t know my story – what I’ve done and where I’ve been.”

I’m not going to deny that. Chances are, that’s true. Even if I have met you before, the odds of me knowing your darkest secrets, the things you’ve tried burying down so deep that even you don’t remember them, are slim to none.

No, I may not know your story, but God definitely does. He was there when it all happened. He knew from the moment that time and the earth started that it was going to happen. He saw and heard all of the things you wish you could forget, and He loved you anyway.

That guy whose heart you crushed into a million pieces? God knew. And He still loved you.

That night you had with your friends that was so crazy you really don’t remember much of it? God saw it all. He loved you anyway as He watched it unfold.

Any and every bit of illegal activity that you’ve indulged in, God knew it was going to happen before you did, and guess what? He still loved you.

Not only did He love you then, but He loves you now as you read this. He’s loved you every second in between, and He’ll love you every second of your life.

God proves His love by loving us when we are hurting Him most. Sin hurts God. No matter how small or how big we think it is, it all hurts Him. The fact that He loved us while our lives were drenched in sin says it all. Or just about.

The final piece of the picture is the lengths that He went to in order to save us from our lives of sin. The picture is only complete with the image of the cross. Jesus’ tired, beaten body hung on thick, blood-stained wood. None of us can imagine the pain He felt as the sweat dripped into all of His wounds, which were already dirty from his walk up the hill. I’d bet vinegar has never tasted worse than it did as it touched His dry lips, His body longing for water that the soldiers wouldn’t give Him. And the jeers! The harsh words from the crowd must have echoed in His head. Any group of people that would rather live with a murderer than the man they were accusing probably didn’t have many nice things to say.

As bad as Jesus’ experience was, He wholeheartedly believed you were worth it. If He had to do it over, He wouldn’t change a single thing. After all you’ve done, no matter how dreadful or unforgivable you think your actions are, Jesus still thinks you’re worth it. And He’s waiting patiently for you with open, loving arms.

By Carrie Prevette

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