I had never really understood the unconditional love of God. If you had asked me ‘Is God’s love unconditional?’ Of course, I would have said yes!
However, I didn’t actually think or act in a way that would confirm this belief.
If I did something wrong, I would feel condemned. If I couldn’t “feel” God’s love I wondered if He loved me. If I couldn’t hear Him – maybe I was doing something wrong.
In my mind, I had to chase God first; to merit His love on account of how righteously I lived and how dedicated I was to Him.
Afraid of rejection
It’s funny to look at it now. But I’ve realised that there has been a big connection with my understanding of God’s love and how I view people around me.
For years I’ve walked into rooms and read the crowd, always on the look out for people responding to me in a negative way. Tiptoeing my way through conversations, operating out of a belief that it was up to me to please people. I wanted to somehow determine other’s reactions to me.
I wanted people to like me.
It's no hidden secret that as humans we seek validation in other people.
I was no different in this desperate search for affirmation.
In seeking people’s love, I often slipped into a trap of being overly lovely, giving more than necessary compliments. Other times I chased beauty or intelligence hoping for the admiration of others at the very least.
There were times when I felt that a person/s didn’t like me unless they went out of their way to tell me so...
Of course, this wasn’t always overtly on the forefront of my mind! Even so, there were times when it was quite crippling. It was also a perpetual chase, as no amount of human adoration was satisfying my inward hunger for validation.
This is an area I have worked on for quite some time now, but until recently it remained a huge mountain in front of me.
In the past few weeks God did something which made that mountain significantly smaller...
He stopped speaking to me.
Perhaps that doesn’t quite make sense – how does God’s silence change a person? At first it didn’t make sense to me either. In fact, it really frustrated me. Either He was silent, or I was deft. Whichever it was I certainly didn’t see it as a good thing.
What was I doing wrong that God wasn’t speaking? I was chasing Him and seeking His presence. Shouldn’t He, therefore, have been speaking to me? Why wasn’t He?
Eventually in a time of worship I became so frustrated that I said to God ‘that’s it, I’m done with being the one pursuing, this time you have to pursue me first.’
And then God broke His silence.
I hadn’t said to God that I was walking away from Him or done with our relationship by any means. What I did was stop pushing so hard. I wasn’t going to do anything that could possibly make me ‘deserve God’s love.’
I would just let go of my striving and leave the ball entirely in God’s court.
And so, God started to not only speak to me, but also confirm what He had said. Generally, He spoke to me when I wasn’t even deliberately listening.
God was showing me that He loved me first. His love for me had never been a result of my actions. How could it be? He was speaking that He loved and accepted me, even though I wasn’t specifically doing anything to merit that.
Not such an empty hole
I am realising that no matter what I do, God loves me. There will always be a seat for me at God’s table. I simply belong.
That gaping hole, desperate for human validation is starting to shrink. As a result, I have been freed to realise that people will love me for who I am and not any other reason.
Sure, it’s true that there will be some who won’t, but I’m okay with that too.
Why are we performing?
We will never find true fulfilment in all this world can give us. If we gain our affirmation from those around us, the moment they cease to give it, we crumble to pieces.
As we try to “survive” we fall into a taking mindset. Relationships get reduced to a means of filling our inner emptiness, which, in turn, perpetuates the problem.
I am discovering that, when our identity is founded in God and His truly unconditional love, we are actually freed to enjoy relationships with the people around us. It frees us up to love authentically without a façade. Insecure motives for relationships are dissolved and true connection is formed.
If we are accepted as we are in God’s family, who then should we perform for?
Lucy Miles can often be found singing or dancing her way through any one particular moment. Such joyous expression is brought forth from her love of the Lord, learning and people. She currently lives in Switzerland and is enrolled in a Ministry and Leadership Development School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and is excited to step into a staff role in January of next year.