Familiar Love: The Love We Expect

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Each of us grew up with an idea of what love is. Primary of which is what we’ve received from our parents. How did they show us love (or lack of it)? Were they there for us most of the time? Were they nurturing? Did they shout at us? Any sort of abuse? Did they show themselves to be trustworthy?

As we grow older, that concept of love continues to evolve. We see it in the relationship of our parents. Are they still together or not? Have they grown closer or almost like strangers now? How is the dynamics at home or over dinner? While friends and media may teach us a thing or two about love, what we experience at home leaves us a deeper impression of how we expect to be loved.

Let me give a simple illustration.

I went out on a date with two guys. Guy 1 asked me what I wanted and went ahead to order for both of us, plus extras for the table. Guy 2 did not ask me my order; I had to ask him and he left me to order for both of us, individual plates with no sides.

Now this is not about the money spent (both paid for dinner, bless their hearts). This is about what I became accustomed to growing up. I am used to the man taking charge. That’s how I feel taken care of. And yeah, I come from a big family so extras on the side does matter.

You may have your own practices at home, things that you’re used to. And that’s okay. It’s a matter of what you’re willing to accept. This may be a small area – dining out. But it streams into bigger known areas of one’s background growing up.

Guy 1 comes from a close-knit family (much similar to mine), while Guy 2 comes from a broken family. It’s a simple dinner, but provides a peephole view into what the future may look like. Do I like what I’m seeing? Can I see myself living his life together with him?

In the end, we look for what is familiar. Because that is how we learned love. That is what we recognize. But not necessarily what is right or good for us.

 

God’s love: A different perspective

Love is something we need to learn. We weren’t born with an instinct to love; on the contrary, our parents had to teach us not to hurt others, not to steal our playmate’s toys, not to lie. They need to teach us how to behave, how to share, how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’. We learn how to relate to others. And to love.

But we don’t have perfect parents. And they may fail us. How do we learn the right kind of love then?

God gives us the perfect example of what love is: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Christ died for us that we may be in a right standing relationship with God, that we may know the Father’s love.

We may not physically die for others, but we can die to our own selfishness and pride. God put first our need for a Savior, choosing to sacrifice His own Son. Do we know a love like that – love that is sacrificial and unconditional?

We need to be familiar with that kind of love. A love that we ourselves are able to put out and pour out into others. It’s a re-learning and re-familiarization of love. So that when the right one comes, we’ll be ready.

 

Advertisements

When God wants to give you MORE

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-482973

It amazes me how God takes His time, beautifully crafting replies and reframing our perspective according to what He really means.

As I’ve been drowning out heaven with prayers for a mate FOR YEARS, I thought that what He meant with “immeasurably more” is with the partner He’ll give me. That if I’m praying for ten things I want in a future husband, then He’ll give me 15 more! Now that’s immeasurably more, right?

But I’ve come to realize that maybe that’s not what He meant. He wants me to have an abundant life (John 10:10). He doesn’t want me to just have a husband. He wants me to have a full life.

Remember the story of the woman at the well? She has had five husbands and yet she was still not satisfied with her life. She said to Jesus: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15, NIV) Five husbands and still thirsty!

So perhaps it’s not just one part of the equation that He wants to give us. He wants to give us so much more.

 

How to experience God’s “immeasurably more”

1. Let God define what is “more”. 

“Now to HIM who is able to do..” It starts with God. And He is the one who is able to do this. I could be wrong in what I want. But God knows me better than I know myself. So let go of what “more” looks like to you. For me, “more” is getting a better husband than what’s on my list. But God redefined that for me by giving me much more – a full life.

A husband would only be one of many relationships that I will have (albeit the most important if there is). But life covers a wide spectrum of needs – social, spiritual, emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, environmental (Seven Dimensions of Wellness). So what about the rest? And this is where God wanted to meet me first. He wants me to experience wellness – establish healthy relationships with family and friends (social), be at peace with where He has me and experience joy no matter what (emotional), enjoy work and pursue passions (occupational and intellectual), learn how to take care of my skin and body (physical), live an organic and natural lifestyle (environmental), and most importantly, build my relationship with My Creator (spiritual).

Whatever “more” looks like to you, just let it go. Let God be the one to define it for you.

2. Know God as a Loving Father

Verse 20 is preceded with Verses 18 and 19: “(that you) may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

What is a loving father like? Fathers who care deeply about their children will not withhold good things from them. He will provide for all their needs and much more – toys, chocolates, birthday parties. He will not do this reluctantly but it would be his joy to give these things to his child.

We need to know that kind of love – how wide and long and high and deep, and which surpasses knowledge. That is how much He loves us. To see Him as a stingy, reluctant, unloving Father would limit who He is and what He can do in our lives.

Your earthly father may be different. Don’t confuse the two.

3. Start living the full life

“..According to his power that is at work within us.” As children of God, His very Spirit is at work within us. That full life began the moment we received Christ into our lives. So what does a full life look like to you? Don’t just look at it from one angle. Remember the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. Consider your relationships, work, spiritual life. All these factor in how well you live your life. You have a role to play. That immeasurably more is within your grasp as you recognize that power at work within you.

I don’t just sit around waiting for God to drop a husband on my lap. I live my life the best way I know how. I work on my relationships, I meet new people, I try out new things. I continue to seek God, know more of His Love for me and tell other people about it. I enjoy life and this is immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.

Had He given me a husband first then I may not be able to appreciate this gift – a gnawing feeling may seethe deep within me as other aspects of my life are not satisfied. But He wants to answer that prayer, even ones that I have not uttered to Him. And so He is making sure that I am whole and complete first, not lacking in anything – and that is the fullness of life.

I don’t know what you’re praying for. But when we dictate too much what we want, we limit God. He wants to give us more than what we ask for, but first, we have to let Him. Let go of any expectations you may have on how God will answer you. Only then will you be able to recognize how God is already giving you that immeasurably more in this life. Let Him.

 

 

Taking that proverbial leap of faith

Today is my last day of the year here in the province.

I still remember that day my father talked to me. It was exactly five days before Christmas. He asked to talk to me at 4. I wondered what it could be. But I tried to think nothing of it.

By 4 I went to his unit. He was eating an orange. He gave me money. “Just a little something to buy gifts.” I was elated. I thought, hey whadyaknow, I got cash. Cool! Little did I know. And then he went on to talk about the situation of the business in the province.

Our manager quit. We need someone out there. We’ve been sending people but it hasn’t been working out. Yadda yadda yadda. Yawn.

“I want you to head our division over there.”

Huh?

“You mean I have to live there?” Anxiety was creeping in.

“Why, do you have to be here? This is business.”

Oh the curse that plagues Chinese families. Duty. Filial piety. More than that God’s word kept ringing in my head. Hupotasso – submit to your authority. Honor your father and mother – this is the first commandment with a promise. I knew that this was from God. Obedience.

The next day my ticket was booked. By the second day of the new year, I started my new role as region head of our exporting business.

I knew that God wanted me here. For reasons I may never know. Perhaps to get me alone with Him. To help me unlearn things that were hindering me in my walk with Him. To expand my borders, take me out of my comfort zone. To reach out to people here, serve in His ministry here. It could be all these or none of it. Only He knows.

But one thing for sure, He revealed a very precious truth to me here – how much He loves me.

Before I left Manila, I met up with a church friend. She asked me why I am hanging on to God. I said, because it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. For her, because she knows how much God loves her.

It was all still head knowledge for me. After walking with him for over a year, serving in church, leading a group, attending various bible studies. So I prayed, Lord, make me feel your Love.

Now I can say this. God loves me. He has been faithful to me even in the smallest of details.

A lot of times in the course of operations here, I can only say, Buti na lang (Good thing!). Good thing the Lord provided. Saved yet again! If not, it would have been a huge problem for me. He did say, do not worry (Matthew 6:25).

He provided a family for me here – my Sunday family (see previous post Windows) and my church family. He knew I needed support.

He got me to do new things – drive (driving in Manila scares me), regularly attend gym (yoga!), take voice lessons (I’ve wanted to do this for a looooong time. I love to sing!).

God knows what He is doing. I love the words of Oswald Chambers, Let Him have His way. Yes Lord, have Your way with me.

I doubt that this will be the last of “pruning” seasons that God has set for me. He wants to pour me out like wine that He may use me. All of life He prunes us ’til we reunite with Him in eternity.

This has been my 2014. I have declared it my Year of Faith.

God, can 2015 be my Year of Love?