By Laurine Decker
When Jeff asked me to share about living out of being loved by God, specifically, learning to love yourself, I felt profoundly inadequate because words can’t begin to touch what it means to be loved by God and to love yourself. This is where the Spirit has to come in. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can give the revelation that allows us to know and be known, loved and be loved. I pray the Spirit gives you and me deeper revelation into the depth of love that’s there for us through Christ alone.
My life Psalm is Psalm 107, and I as I write those words, I begin to weep.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For his lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, and gathered from the lands,
from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
they did not find a way to an inhabited city.
They were hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses.
He led them also by a straight way to go to an inhabited city.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men. For he has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul he has filled with what is good.
My life has been one of desperate longing, isolation, and a deep hunger that felt like it could never be filled. I have been the wanderer in the desert region without an inhabited city. I have been the hungry and thirsty soul; distressed, alone and untouchable.
Jesus promises that streams of living water will flow from us (John 7:38). Jesus promises abundant life (John 10:10). Jesus promises a remaining and full joy (John 15:11). Psalm 63:5 promises we will be fully satisfied.
About 10 years ago as I began to wrestle with the reality I was living in in light of some of those scriptures, Jesus gently let me know there was more. He showed me that although I was pouring out, I was not able to take in. I was empty and desperate and dissatisfied because I could not have my needs met. My receptors were broken. From a psychological standpoint, my neuronal pathways were totally wired to look for my needs to be met by things my needs could never be met by; performance, people pleasing, and ultimately when those things didn’t work, to wall myself off through using food or other coping mechanisms. My flight mechanism was finely tuned, and I was incapable of receiving a love that could truly satisfy by God, by myself or by others.
I want to take a minute to define love as I have now by God’s grace found it to be. I have experienced this love now. I am a work in progress, but I am experiencing it with more and more frequency. It used to be I could only occasionally feel it with Monte, but this month alone I have experienced it with my mother, a dear friend from our church body, and through my twin sister. This love feels like a sinking in. It feels like warmth surrounding every part of my being. It feels like a deep saturation of my soul. It feels like I am being lost in God or another person’s being. It feels like comfort and beauty and richness, It feels satisfying to the depth of my being. It feels like knowing and being known. And by this I don’t mean understanding and being understood, I mean on a soul level being known, being accepted and being LOVED! I don’t feel desperate in those moments, and I know deep satisfaction. I have been brought to an inhabited city.
The Bible AND psychology say that we need to love and be loved, know and be known in order to be happy and satisfied. Because I did not love myself, I couldn’t receive being loved by others. I couldn’t accept anything short of perfection in myself which made me constantly empty and the subject of a harsh critical voice. It is so crazy, because as obvious as it probably is to you that perfection is impossible, I truly was chasing perfection. I remember the moment in my living room five years ago when I realized that perfection was unattainable (really? and that somehow shocked my soul?) and I went into a depression. It has taken some years of digging in, counseling, and the ministry of the Spirit to believe that there is satisfaction outside of perfection and to really taste the hope the God has promised. I’m still a work in progress as my husband can definitely attest to, but there is the promise of more and I now know in my soul that it is for me! I am meant to be known, I am meant to be loved, I am meant to be satisfied.
Praise be to God, we have Savior who walks with us. When we, by His Grace, and His Grace alone, enter into His presence and take His yoke, He walks with us. In His presence there is peace, rest and fullness of joy. In His presence there is attachment, love and being known.
And after all that, that is the bottom line; PRESENCE. His presence first and foremost, and our presence in the reality and discomfort and stressors and agonies and irritations of our lives. Our presence in the joys, the fun, the relationships and the ins and outs. His presence and our presence. Being grounded in His reality even when our flesh is screaming escape and distracted by the always pressing demands of our culture and ourselves. Coming back again and again to drink from His well.
I would invite you to pray with me for the ministry of His Spirit and for His presence and our presence as we journey. That we will allow ourselves to know and be known, love and be loved by God, by ourselves and by others.