“If we are not waiting for God to approve of me, then why can’t I feel His approval?”
~ The Journal (April 9, 2012)
It’s one thing to make an honest assessment of where you are. It’s another thing to figure out how to go where you want to be.
What started as an empty notebook where I poured my heart out on paper, turned into a several month long journaling journey. I handed the notebook to my pastor and he returned it with his written reply. I wrote again, he replied again.
In the very beginning, I tried to describe where I was on my journey. I said I had been at the top of a mountain, doing good and connected with God, when I got kicked and fell off the side. Before I could regain my footing, I got kicked again, and then another time. Before I knew it, I had tumbled to the bottom of the mountain with the realization that I had no idea how to get back to the top.
The truth that I now see is this: We are only truly on the solid ground of the mountain top when we are trusting and resting in the truth. No one can push you off the mountain. You allow them to move you by believing a lie. If I was so easily kicked off the mountain, I really wasn’t standing on solid ground to start off with. It was simply an illusion.
This season of journaling became the part of my journey where I navigated the rocky side of the mountain to climb to solid ground. At times it was precarious. There were jagged cliffs that I almost lost my grip trying to climb. There were times I fell flat on my face tripping over a rock in my path.
There was one “rock” I tripped over so many times that it almost completely stopped my journey. I so desperately wanted to feel God’s love and have an awareness of His presence. But no matter how much I tried to find Him, there seemed to be only silence and emptiness in return. I was plagued by the thought that maybe there wasn’t really a God. Maybe everything I had ever believed was only a glorified fairy tale. In reply to my struggles my pastor wrote, “We are not waiting for God to get strong or to approve of you. We are pushing through the outer layers of disbelief and false doctrines.” With great frustration and discouragement I replied, “If we are not waiting for God to approve of me, then why can’t I feel His approval?”
For the next year and a half, I chose to believe that God loved me based solely on what my mind was learning. My heart did not fully feel it, but I decided to trust that it was true. Then one weekend, after spending 3 days immersed in the story of God, His love became undeniably real to me. And the answer to my question started flowing out of my heart like a spring that had been uncovered.
So, why couldn’t I feel His approval?
Because God loves me so much that He wasn’t going to allow me to feel content in our relationship while I was striving to earn His approval and affection.
The amazing thing that shows His compassion and mercy, is that throughout my life He has allowed me to feel seasons of His love. Even in the journey of the past couple of years, I have had glimpses of His approval, moments of closeness. But, if He had allowed me to be satisfied and fulfilled while I still believed in my heart that I could do things to make myself more special to Him, He would have been settling for a shallow relationship.
If He had fully met my heart’s need for Him, He would have been robbing me of the chance to know the depth of His love for me. Because as long as I believe in my heart that any portion of His love and desire for me is tied to my ability to please Him, then it makes His love small. He could not allow me to feel the richness of Himself while I thought it was something I could earn or lose. Because if I had experienced that kind of satisfaction, I would have never been propelled to find the truth. How could I have been amazed by the power and completeness of His love if I had experienced it while doing something to earn it?
But, He gave me enough to draw me to Himself. He let me taste enough that I knew my life was empty and shallow, and even unbearable, without feeling His approval and love. The void, the drought, the silence…created the frustration and the craving for His approval. Without that craving, I wouldn’t have pursued Him. And because my pursuit was filled with striving and exhaustion and reaching for something that kept being just out of my grasp, when I finally came face to face with the Truth, it was the most beautiful, peaceful thing I had ever known.
The Truth is: I can Trust Him with my heart.
The Truth is: He did everything necessary because I am so absolutely precious to Him.
The Truth is: There is not one thing I have ever been able to do that could increase His love for me.
The Truth is: I am not ever in danger of losing His love. Period. Not ever…
That is beauty. That He has loved me completely and continued to pursue me through it all. While I was striving trying to make my heart beautiful… While I was falling apart… When I was angry and cynical and horribly ugly… He still wanted me. He loved me exactly the same amount in all of those times.
My heart has been utterly transformed by the greatness of His love.