A VIEW OF LOVE ESTABLISHED ON A PLAYGROUND
I was in fourth grade and my heart was crushed. My poor mom didn’t know how to console my tears as I wailed, “He doesn’t love me anymore!”
Thinking back, so many years later, I wonder if my mom had any clue before that moment that I, her 10 year old daughter, had fallen in love with the cute boy on the playground.
I liked him–at the time, I thought I loved him. He had shiny brown hair with bangs and a retainer, which made his teeth beautifully straight. He asked me to be his girlfriend and we spent three wonderful days swinging on adjacent swings and holding hands at recess. I felt gloriously scandalous as we broke the rules and passed notes during class. Each note made me feel loved and special–he had chosen me! Then it happened.
He sent a note that broke my heart. “I don’t love you and I don’t want to be your boyfriend anymore.” How could he all of a sudden not care for me? Recess became a painful experience as I watched him on the swings with another girl from class. It was almost more than my little heart could take.
TAKING THAT BROKENNESS INTO ADULTHOOD
That experience dictated how I perceived love for many years. I knew it could end quickly and for no understandable reason. One moment I could be loved and the next–either with a note, text, phone call or short conversation–I became unloved. I entered each relationship guarded, and expecting the dreaded “I don’t love you” shoe to fall from the moment the gift of “I love you” was given.
Sadly, for many years, I perceived God’s love for me in the same manner. My Christian life was spent waiting for Him to realize I wasn’t lovable. I reasoned that since I had asked Jesus in to my heart, He had to accept me as His child and allow me in to heaven, but I believed He accepted me out of obligation—not out of true authentic love for me.
I saw myself as the proverbial “red headed step child” (no offense intended to red heads or step children) that He had to endure and tolerate. I couldn’t fathom that I could ever be His beloved child in whom He is well pleased, until I found a truth buried in scripture.
It wasn’t exactly buried, but it had been one I had overlooked for many years.
GOD IS GOOD–BUT HE IS ALSO MORE!
I never doubted He is good. Of course He is good! He had to be good to accept and tolerate me. I was completely thankful for His tolerance and acceptance.I KNEW that would always be there. I guess in my mind I re-wrote this verse to say:
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His tolerance and acceptance endures forever.” (This it the misguided believer version of scripture)
The second part caught in the dry part of my unloved heart. “His faithful love endures forever.”
UNLOCKING “FAITHFUL LOVE”
I had to ponder the phrase, “faithful love”. What did it mean? Had I ever experienced real love–let alone faithful love? To figure it out, I needed to break it down.Miriam Websters Dictionary defines faithful as :
- full of faith
- steadfast in affection or allegiance (loyal)
- firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty (conscientious)
- given with strong assurance (binding)
Using these definitions, I can paint a bigger picture of what “faithful love means.
“His love that has steadfast affection and is given with a strong assurance endures forever.”
That is wonderful, but what about my heart that knew love was conditional and ended for no apparent reason? I needed to examine the rest of the verse.
UNLOCKING ENDURING LOVE
His love endures forever.
- to continue to exist in the same state or condition
- to experience (pain or suffering) for a long time
- to deal with or accept (something unpleasant)
Adding these definitions is to our verse, is see that:
“His love that has steadfast affection and is given with a strong assurance will continue to exist and is unchanging even if there is pain or suffering attached to it forever.
This is talking about HIS pain and suffering… not mine. His love is steadfast even when I am the one hurting His heart? This is blowing my fourth grade love theory out of the water. Surely this is only temporary until He comes to His senses and realizes I am not lovable.
UNLOCKING FOREVER LOVE
His love endures forever.
- for and endless time: for all time
- for a very long time
- at all times
His love is steadfast with affection and is given to me with a strong assurance that it will continue to exist and is unchanging even if I hurt Him. This love will not be taken away from me, but will last for all time.
I don’t know about you, but this has be doing the happy dance all over the place!
I can give thanks to God because I have the strong assurance that His affectionate love is steadfast. It will continue to exist and is unchanging during good times and bad. This love is not conditional or temporary. It will last for all time, even in to eternity!
This is life giving news to my dry heart. I am His beloved child and that will not change.
I pray this gives the dry places of your heart hope too, as you recognize that God’s love is the same towards you too!
Let that soak to the deepest parts of your soul and bring truth to the tainted views of love life has given you.