“Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so….” I grew up singing this children’s song about God’s love, so you’d think I would’ve been able to fathom the real meaning. I never really understood that God truly loves me all the time. I knew it with my head. I could repeat the verses, but I didn’t really get it or feel it with my whole heart and soul. It was when I started dating my fiance, Kris, that the beauty, splendor and depths of God’s love was revealed to me.
I always had this mentality that I needed to be on my best behavior and do good works for God in order to make Him proud, to make him love me more. The idea that He loves me just the way I am, and can’t love me any more or less no matter what I do, sounded nice, but I didn’t fully believe it. I mean, how is that really possible after all the shameful things I’ve said or done? The love we experience as humans is based on conditions. Often, in order to fit in with a social circle, we must bring something desirable to the group to be accepted. In romance, we have to measure up to someone’s checklist in order to be loved. Many young people feel the pressure to exceed expectations in order to receive any affirmation from their parents and teachers. But, no matter what, God does love us ALL the time. “…Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.
How does it feel when you do or say something wrong, maybe not even realizing it and your boyfriend or husband criticizes and condemns you for it? Does it make you want to change and be better for him? I know for me it didn’t. For a long time, I was told I was too sensitive and needed to just “get over it.” Being told this didn’t help me though, it made me feel invalidated and like there was something wrong with me. I figured God probably thought I was crazy too and wanted me to brush off all the little hurtful stuff and be strong. But finally, Kris showed me what God’s love looks like.
First, I should explain that marriage was designed by God to emulate the intimate relationship that we are called to have with Christ. The bride and bridegroom. So it would make sense that Kris was the one to show me how God loves me. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church (the people) and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25. God doesn’t love his people only when they are on their best behavior. And mind you, love is an action so he still acts out and shows us His love even when we deserve it the very least.
For example, when I get upset or irritable for seemingly no reason at all and I know I am acting really undesirable, Kris is so incredibly calm and gentle with me all the way through. He doesn’t get frustrated with me, or tell me to “get over it” and he never walks away. He continues to pursue me when I try to brush it off and convinces me that the “little, hurtful stuff” matters. He speaks tenderly to me and sometimes will just hold me and pray over me until I am peaceful. Then, he’ll never hold anything against me later. That’s grace. Sometimes, I really don’t know how he does it. When I have a lazy day or haven’t booked work in a while, he doesn’t get on my case about it. He points out all the amazing things that I have done and reminds me that I am worth more than what I do. He shows me love and affirmation when I deserve it the least. Wow, talk about revelation.
It is the way that Kris gently loves me through my tears, emotional roller coasters and ugliness that convicts me to change. Instead of trying to earn his love back because of my faults; I desire to be a better woman because of his love through my faults. This hit me one morning while I was journaling and I realized this is how God loves us. He never leaves us, never condemns us and never makes us pay for our mistakes. They have already been paid. All he wants is our hearts. We don’t need to do good works to earn God’s love. When we see His grace and blessings in our life, especially in the times we deserve it the least, we are led to change. That is when this makes sense: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2.
Now I can sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” and believe it with my heart.