Do you ever have moments when you need to feel the depth and breadth of God’s love? Ever need to know that, when every other human on the earth forsakes and rejects you, the One who created you unconditionally and unequivocally loves you? Would move heaven and earth just for you?
I’d heard people speak about the love of God that way. Heard about this sacrificial and undying love, but always wondered if it really applied to me. Not because I’d done anything particularly unforgiveable or terrible. I just wondered if I was actually really loved.
Because…I didn’t feel loved by God.
I didn’t feel hated or anything like that, just insignificant. I had trouble conceptualizing and wrapping my mind around the idea that God would care that much about me. Does God’s love even exist? How do I feel it? I was literally starving for love, thirsting for someone to care deeply about me.
I was in my early twenties. My ex-husband had left our infant child and me abandoned, and we ended up in a homeless shelter. I’d struggled to get back on my feet. After several grueling winter months, I’d finally secured a two bedroom apartment for us with rent I could afford. With a combination of donated furniture and Goodwill dishes and blankets, I made us a home, as best I could.
Life seemed to be going the right direction, again. I’d re-enrolled in college, had a full time job as a server, and was able to get public assistance to fill in the gaps, but I was far from happy. I was just glad to be alive. Grateful to have narrowly escaped my abusive childhood and was still bleeding from the abusive marriage I tumbled into.
I remember one afternoon sitting in my quiet apartment and listening to the sounds of my daughter sleeping. Her quiet snore and soft rhythmic breathing was music to my ears. I’d cracked the patio door to get fresh air and listen to the rain patter against the rotting wood on the deck. She’d drifted off for an afternoon nap on our couch after lunch.
I had a love-hate relationship with that darn couch. It was donated to me by an organization designed to help single mothers. The company took care to restore and clean the furniture before redistributing it, and I was grateful to have something to sit on other than the floor, but, let me be frank, it was hideous and uncomfortable. It was adorned with checkered yellow, brown and white stitching that, I swear, was made from sandpaper. The cushions where under-stuffed and springs jutted up through the pillows and goosed you if you plopped down too fast! Ha!
That’s okay though. I was grateful for the help. I often layered blankets and pillows for my daughter to make it comfortable for her and watched over her while she rested. That day, as I lay watching my baby sleep, I had a conversation with God.
I told God that I didn’t understand His love and that I didn’t feel it. I felt abandoned, overlooked, and unimportant as I had in every other aspect of my life. I explained that at church, God is always referred to as a father, but that I was not sure of what father’s love was supposed to look like. My biological father turned out to be a nice guy, but I still struggled with his absence in my childhood. My stepfather was a very broken and angry man, full of wrath and violence, devoid of compassion and love.
I even tried to view God as a mother, but struggled with that, as well. My own mother often left me in the possession of my stepfather, subject to his wrath and hate. My own mother who supported and excused the behavior of my ex-husband when I told her of his transgressions and abusive nature, miles before marriage. My own mother, who I knew I could not trust to ensure my own safety. I didn’t understand that love either.
God spoke back to me with words I continue to embrace to this day.
How much do you love your own child? What would you do for her?
I love her more than she could ever imagine. There is nothing I would not do for her. I could not imagine my life without her.
How do you love her?
With every fiber of my being. I protect her from danger as much as I can. I shield her from pain she is not able to fathom. I feed her, although my belly is empty. I keep her warm, even though I may be cold. I give her my all. I give her the best of everything I have.
Would you die for her?
Of course, with a smile on my face.
Does she know how much you love her?
Probably not. She is not able to understand it yet. She may never be able to.
Because she is too little to understand. Because it’s complicated and intense.
Lynnette, I love you more than you are capable of loving your own child. I protect you with a fierceness you have yet to fathom. You mean more to me than you could ever understand. You understand the love of a mother because you are a mother.
Know this, I am your mother.
I love you with ferocious intensity and will move heaven and earth to get to you. Woe to the one who has set out to harm you.
There is nothing that I would not do for you. You may be too little to understand, but I would die for you. Bend time and space for you. When you sleep, I watch over you. When you cry, I hold you. When you think of the love you have for your child, know that it but a fraction of the love I have for you.
I will take any shape, any form you need, for you to see me. You need a motherly love? You need to know that you are worth protecting and loving? I am that for you. Unending, unshakeable, unfathomable, undying and unconditional. I am that for you, because I AM.
I lay there listening to God speak sweet nothings into my heart, until, I, too, fell asleep on the itchy couch. Somehow, as I drifted off, I noticed that it seemed softer and not so itchy.
Up until that day, I’d never considered God as having what I considered to be a “motherly love”. Coming from a home where I was abused, isolated, rejected and neglected and a marriage which mimicked much of the same, God used the only form of love I understood to help me understand how She felt about me.
It helped me to see the box in which I’d placed Her in.
It was the first time I was able to conceptualize how much God loved me, and it was awesome. I felt known, seen. Important. Special. It was the first time I remember feeling really comfortable with God. Not so formal, but personal, like I could have an authentic conversation with someone who cared deeply for me.
It is important to me that you understand how much She cares for you. Motherly love is the form that resonates most with me a majority of the time, probably because it is the one I am able to comprehend. It’s not that God chose a human form to mimic so that I could understand. It is that the great I AM revealed a part of Her that I’d never seen or even considered, thus, allowing me, through the supernatural love I have for my own kids, to understand how much I am loved and adored.
It is the love I gave, not the love I received that the Lord used to help me understand. There’s a whole lesson in that, but I’mma keep it movin’.
The Lord is fluent in every form of love and will woo you with the song that speaks directly to your heart. Think of the love you have for someone. Think of the intensity, the power, the fullness of it. Know that it is but a fraction of what the Lord feels for you.
In this season, as we honor mothers, I challenge you to explore God’s love for you in whatever way resonates most.
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Questions to ponder:
1. If the references to God as “She” gave you pause, stop and consider why that may be. Did the reference to God as “He” elicit the same emotional response? Why or why not?
2. Do you feel loved by God? Why or Why not?
3. What image of God helps you feel loved and comforted the most? Ask God to reveal Godself to you in that way.
4. Does it help to connect with God when you consider gender or even fluidity of gender?