This is from an email I received awhile ago from National Network of Youth Ministries:
Letting God Love Us
By Samantha Tidball
It is hard to know we are loved unconditionally by God when we live in a world that loves conditionally. Take Tiger Woods, for example. Tiger was loved by fans, media, and businesses as the most successful golfer ever and the highest-paid professional athlete in the world. He was also recognized as a good family man who even set up youth charities. However, once the media revealed his multiple affairs, many people lost their love for Woods, and he lost several of his endorsements. Hateful tabloid articles and news reports about Tiger spread all over the world. This is a picture of how fast the world can turn love into hate based on one’s actions. The hard truth is God loves his son Tiger just as much as he loves you and I.
Comparing my life to Tiger’s makes me feel sick, but deep down I can see in some ways that my story parallels to his. Besides my professional golfing career (just kidding), like Tiger Woods, I try to fill my life with other stuff instead of God to make me happy. When I was a teenager, I dated a number of guys and continually found myself bored after three months of dating. I realized my picture of love was caught up in the romantic feelings I first felt when I had a guy’s attention. I got an emotional high from the chase or being chased. When I first dove into my relationship with God, there was an emotional rush. When that rush was gone, I felt empty inside and continued looking for attention elsewhere. I knew God loved me, but I didn’t always feel His love.
I still struggle to feel God’s love. Church people tell me God loves me, and scripture is full of His love. But how do I personally feel God’s love? I have learned that I can’t force a feeling. But I can reflect on what I know and trust that God truly does love me. I have to trust Jesus meant what He said in 1 John 4:9-10, “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the World so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” If Jesus died for you and me than what does that say about our self-worth? Jesus says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Apparently, God loves us enough to die for us; there is no greater act of love.
If Jesus already died for us, than why are we still trying to earn God’s love? There is nothing we can do to get God to love us more. We must stop trying to earn his love and simply receive it to give it to others. A boyfriend or girlfriend, a husband or wife is never going to satisfy all the desires of our heart. A “significant other” will never fill all the needs we have to be loved, adored, valued, worthy, beautiful, accepted, precious, and cared for. They will at some point let us down and make us feel unloved. We must stop looking for that perfect someone to fix our imperfections. The only fixing that can be done is in the arms of our creator.
Author, Max Lucado puts it this way, “God loves you just the way you are. If you think his love for you would be stronger if your faith were stronger, you are wrong.” If you think his love would be deeper if your thoughts were deeper, wrong again. Don’t confuse God’s love with the love you get from people. Love from people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are.
I am now happily married, and I have realized the “happily” part has not come from feeling romantically giddy in love all the time, even though we have those moments too. We are happy because we were first happy as individuals and sought after God. We are happy because we know God loves us and has a plan for us. God first loved us, so we can love each other and others. We are happy because we know that we have purpose that goes beyond finding the special someone to complete us and have happy babies with. Those are big blessings in life, but they are not the meaning in life. My husband and I have only been married since July of 2008. As much as we love each other, we are asking the question…”That was fun, but now what!?” We both realized we need to seek God’s will every day by growing deeper in our faith and in relationship with others. That is what gives us joy, purpose, and adventure.
So with Valentine’s Day behind us, try celebrating being God’s beloved whether you are single or in a relationship. Your relationship status does not define your value. If you don’t believe me, then just ask Jesus who remained single. Every human being needs to live out the truth that they are unconditionally loved and precious in God’s sight. In John 15, Jesus told us the key to feeling loved by God is this…”If we remain in Him, He will remain in us, and His love will overflow in us.” We cannot give away true love if we haven’t received it first. If we spend time letting our creator love us intimately, we will be surprised to find our hearts overflowing with his love.
Samantha Tidball is the youth minister of Nolensville First UMC and her blog can be found at http://samtidball.blogspot.com/