For years I struggled with feeling truly loved by God. I mean I believed that He loved me, but in the core of who I am, in that place I react and make decisions from, I didn’t feel loved. What a journey it’s been discovering the truth, the truth that I am loved extravagantly, without measure or conditions by the One who dreamed me into existence.
I think every person ultimately wrestles with this one issue. Does the One who made me really care about me and love me? I think that’s why we care so much if other people love and care about us, because when they don’t, it communicates the message to our heart that God doesn’t. Trace any issue that matters to us to it’s source and it always goes back to that one fear. We voice it different ways… Am I important? Do I matter? AM I LOVED?
As a Christian I had always thought I had value to God because I behaved and followed Jesus. As children we each develop an unspoken diagnostic measurement to test if we are truly loved and then a strategy to get as much love as we can. If we realize we can’t achieve it we either exhaust ourselves on trying harder, or settle for lesser things to fill the need, or try not to value love at all so it doesn’t hurt so bad. My strategy was rooted in religion, so I tried to perform for God, not because He asked it of me, but because I believed a lie that enslaved me.
My taste of real freedom came when I stopped trying to get myself “right” before I tried to talk to Him. I started just sitting in my closet with Him, literally, and insisting on feeling loved. I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually from spending so much effort in life on needing love. All that wasted energy and fear made me miserable until I sat with Him a few times a day, a few minutes at a time and simply received the love I craved. I stopped focusing on the surface issues and focused on the One who is love. What I found was a gaze that stripped me of fear and left me so full that I couldn’t find enough ways to pour it out.
It was during this journey into love that Johnny and I wrote Rainbow God: The Seven Colors of Love. As I wrote my part I had such an amazing time pondering the inexhaustible ways that God as love shows up in life and the seven areas of culture (Family, Government, Education, Economy, Media, Arts & Entertainment, and Religion). Not only does God love us, but He loves us in real every day ways, right in the midst of the things we care about. In fact, those things we have interest in are actually Him. Ultimately, each area of life or culture is meant to be an expression of who He is. So one day, as I was talking to God, I heard myself say something that I had never said to Him in my whole life, “I love You too.” I found myself telling Him something that I had only told others when I heard them say it first. What that meant to me was that my heart was finally so convinced of His love for me, that I could now freely and effortlessly love Him back! It may not sound like much, but when you realize you’ve been battling over that your entire life and you’re now operating from overflow rather than a bottomless pit, it’s worth noticing!
As we finished writing our book, I realized how good God is in that He not only loves us through the endless expressions of life, but He has given us just as many ways to love Him and others back. We can use the influence and talent we have in the area of culture that we have expertise in and do it in a way that reflects the radical, unconditional love He has given us. We make it complicated, but God as love is profoundly simple and it provokes but one response- to simply love Him back with our own unique way of saying “I love You too.” How will you say it?
If you haven’t read Rainbow God: The Seven Colors of Love yet, do it! Your journey into love will be marked forever as you learn to love Him back with every color.