For years now, I’ve been on the hunt, looking for people I can “really” trust with my heart…you know, the people who won’t let me down, the people who are worthy of loving me. And I know it’s surprising, but I still haven’t found them yet.
So I’ve waited. I’ve held back the vulnerable things –the ugly, the sad, the scary — and built up walls to protect myself. It all seemed kind of heroic, like I was sparing people from the “burden” of loving and caring for me in ways that really cost something. Oh, and did I mention godly? It seemed pretty spiritual too, because I was trusting Jesus and only Jesus and keeping my heart clear of any other entanglements.
But all the while, I’ve been longing to be known, truly known, and longing to be loved once the real me finally stepped out.
And in the space — that scary unknown — between the people I love and the real me hiding in the shadows, God spoke. Love first, He said. Love first.
Because, the truth is, we’re never gonna know for sure. We’re never gonna know if the people we love most will be able to give us what we need or want. We’re never gonna know if acceptance waits around the corner, or if rejection does. And every step closer — in any relationship — is always going to be a risk. No matter how much trust we’ve built with others, the bottom line is, we’re all broken and if we’re holding out for the “ones” who are “good enough” to love and be loved, not one of us is going to make the cut.
Love first. Invest before you know it’s worth it. Ask before you’re sure of the answer. Give before you know they’ll take it. Be yourself before you know they’ll accept you. To those hardened by grief, the embittered, the skeptical, this sounds like utter foolishness. But to the one who knows intimately the power of the Gospel, it’s simply the way of our God.
For while we were sinners, Christ died for us. And before He knew we’d follow, He called us each by name. And even though many reject it, He pours out His love, His life, His gifts…freely and abundantly. In fact, all of this, the Bible says, defines love.
God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us….We love because He first loved us.
-1 John 4:9-12, 19 (HCSB)
He loved first. And by the redemptive power now alive in us, He asks us to do the same.