Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Week Thirty - Thirty-Something

At age thirty-something I chopped my long hair, got a perm, and resigned myself to adulthood. 
I believed I was old.  It was time to put on my apron and accept I would never be young again. 
How silly I was! 
      It was about this same time that I began to struggle with a deep depression.  I thought I had life figured out.  I knew what to do and what to say in order to navigate the unwritten rules of life.
I was on the mission field having given my life to service, but I felt empty.  I was confused and overwhelmed.  I felt no one understood and worse yet, no one cared.  No one loved me.  Of course,
that was a lie, but lies can be powerful!  I had a hard time accepting that God could love me in the
state I was in.  I felt wretched and inflicted my wretchedness on those doing life with me.
      I have met and read of many young women on that thirty-something search for whatever.  They faced the same questions that haunted my thoughts. Who was I?  Where was I – age, career, kids? etc.  Was I too late to make anything of my life?  Why all this angst and uncertainty?  How had I gotten to this place? Why was life so hard, so competitive, so judgmental?  Why did I feel so lonely and frustrated?
       My search eventually led me to a deep assurance of God’s love.  I found that no matter what questions I asked or how I felt emotionally, He brought me close to His side and wrapped me in His comforting arms and I began to rebuild on Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
     Here’s a bit of what I learned in my thirties about God’s love.
          If I attempt to measure God’s love by my responses, I’ve got it all wrong. 
          If I think my faithfulness increases God’s love for me, I’ve got it all wrong. 
          If I think a set of dos and don’ts will put me in better standing with God, I’ve got it all wrong. 
Why?  Because God’s love isn’t measured by responses, actions, or obedience.  It is only measured by himself—for God IS love.  His love is unconditional.  It doesn’t matter what I do, where I go, what I say, what I wear, what I don’t do, where I don’t go, what I fail to say or do…There are NO conditions to God’s love and NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:1) God loves me—that’s it.
    Slowly, as I let go of my attempts to gain God’s love by my own efforts I began to see and rest in His love for me. He loved me even when I didn’t get time to read the Word or have devotions.  With five small children, a full-time ministry, and my depressed state, that was sometimes impossible. 
     He loved me even when I failed as a pastor/missionary wife by saying stupid stuff or reacting from raw emotion. 
     He loved me even when I was too tired to think straight or when the depression left me completely unreasonable and in floods of tears. 
     He loved me even when I couldn’t or wouldn’t verbalize what was going on in my heart for fear of what might come out or if I could shut the floodgates.
    Stay with me though. Having established His solid unwavering love for me, I cannot translate that love into approval or agreement.  God always loves, even when he does not approve or agree with my choices and behavior.  Just as a parent loves their child even though they have made a poor choice or chosen to disobey. God, the perfect parent, loves with no condemnation, no pushing away, no hesitation, but He still wants me to act like His child.   He wants me to trust and obey.  He brought me through that depression into a much better place.  And he wasn’t finished there!  
     So, I’m telling you. Take a deep breath.  Relax your shoulders.  The whole thing doesn’t depend on you.  God’s got this and He’s got you.  He knows where you are and will lovingly carry you through safely in the arms of Jesus with forty just around the corner!

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