Sometimes the Honesty’s too Much

Sometimes when God touches me, the honesty seems too much.  Sometimes, I don’t want Him to see the “real me”.  The truth is He always sees the real me.

Today I finished the first revision of What Kind of Love is This: Finding God in the Darkness, a memoir of my journey to reclaim my identity.  The last words I typed, “See what God has done… He loves you,” reminded me of my struggle to trust God’s unconditional love. Those words also acknowledge how far I’ve come. Still, I occasionally struggle to understand the events of my life, but writing my story helped put some pieces together for me. As I thought about how to express my struggle, this blog, written a few years ago, seemed appropriate. My relationship with God continues to grow as I include Him in my daily life through prayer, study and simply being still. Perhaps my post will help you realize your beauty and value in the eyes of the Creator.

“Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much.”

This 70’s hit by Dan Hill, conveys the struggle of feeling and expressing love.  When I looked up the words to the entire song, I realized that many of the lyrics could apply to God’s relationship with us and our relationship with Him. Sometimes when God touches me, His honesty seems too much.  Sometimes, I don’t want Him to see the “real me”.  The truth is He always sees the real me. When I let go of my pride, only then can I truly experience the Honesty of God’s touch.  Only then can I allow Him to hold me until my fear, pride, and pain subside.

Trapped within my truth

How many times have I cried out to God, “how could you let this happen?”  or “You can’t really want ME to do that, do you?” Sometimes I don’t wait for an answer and simply return to the safety of what I know.  I dismiss the still small voice as nothing more than a passing thought.  After all, I know me better than anyone.  Sometimes I argue with God as if He really doesn’t know what is best for me.  I stay trapped and immobile because I choose to stay trapped in “my truth”.  I don’t want to move out of the safety of the familiar and the comfortable.  I fight the honesty of God’s touch.  Until that moment when he brings me to my knees because my truth suffocates me.  Once on my knees, God’s presence pours over me with power, peace, and strength.  At that moment, all is well.  My mind tries to comprehend the touch but cannot.  His love surrounds me and I realize the “real me” is more than my thoughts, habits, and hurt.  The real me has been touched by God to be all He created me to be. His truth heals.  His truth reveals.  His truth brings peace.

He understands How Hard I Try

Sometimes we try too hard to experience God.  The truth is God is everywhere.  He touches us every day.  I recall a time shortly after my husband, John, died when I commented to a friend, “I don’t feel God. I know He is there, but I don’t feel His presence.”  I tried hard to make the feeling of God’s presence real, but nothing worked.  Finally, one day as I drove to work, I saw streams of light piercing the clouds on the horizon.  I smiled through my tears as I felt the honesty of God’s touch for a moment.

I realized at that moment that God always wants to touch us.  I also realized that His touch comes in unexpected ways.  Sometimes it comes from a friend who calls at just the right moment to comfort or encourage us.  He touches us through worship when we feel Him through music.  Those passing thoughts that prompt us to be more than we think we can be are often God’s touch.

“Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[c] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31.

Like Peter, we have to get out of our “boat” of our expectations to experience God’s touch.  Once we step out of the boat, His hand will keep us above water if we stay connected to Him.

We don’t have to work hard to feel His presence, but we do have to ask, listen and respond when we feel the Honesty of God’s touch.

God is constantly reaching out to us.  His hand is always outstretched.  Our task is simply to grab hold of the hand and allow God to lead us from our “truth” to what He has in store for us.

 

 

Because We are Good

As I struggled to comprehend how God could love me, I struggled with an equally troubling question, “How could God love the family members who hurt me?” 

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“How could God love the family members who hurt me?”

Note: this is a repost of a blog I posted in April 2018. As I reach the end of writing the draft of my memoir, the words in this blog resonated with me. I hope my thoughts will bring hope to others who struggle to understand the depth of love God has for His creation.

As I struggled to comprehend how God could love me, I struggled with an equally troubling question, “How could God love the family members who hurt me?”  Such questions are common among women who experienced abuse as children.

For many years I simply could not understand why God did not stop my family’s abuse.  I was angry at God, yet I never lost hope that someday I would understand.  I wish someone would have pointed me to St. Thomas when I was overwhelmed with anger and guilt.  Now, do not misunderstand, I eventually forgave and moved on. However, I think St. Thomas’ argument about the basic concepts of ‘being’, ‘good’ and how He views sin may shed new light to help women who struggle with how God’s love extends to their abusers.

We are beings created in God’s image and hold a place higher than every other creature.

The initial question is: Does God love all things equally?  The answer is no. When you consider all the things God created, He definitely has a hierarchy.  He loves humanity more than animals or rocks or trees.  Why, you may ask, because humanity is rational and created in His image.  We are second only to the love God has for Christ.  We are beings created in God’s image and hold a place higher than every other creature. God came to earth as a man, not a rock or a tree. He did not come as a dog or a cat but as a man.[3]

How does this affect a survivor that questions God’s love for their abuser? First, as we determined in Part I, God loves all things. Secondly, He loves humanity more than other things because we are beings, not things. As I stated in Part I, we know that every being that God creates is good just because God creates it out of His perfect goodness. Based on the definition of ‘being’ in the glossary of St. Thomas’Shorter Summa, being means “that which is, whether actual or potential and whether in the mind (a ‘being of reason’) or in objective reality (a ‘being in nature’).”[4] In other words, a being exists as an entity that has qualities and potential.

What changes is God’s love of our actions and choices, which affects our relationship with Him.

What happens after creation does not change the fact that God created beings that are good beings.  Even a being who makes choices that lead to evil are still beings, which exist no matter what choices they make. God’s love for that being that He wills good to does not change. What changes is God’s love of our actions and choices, which affects our relationship with Him.  No matter what, the good being still exists.  God still considers the creation good.  He still loves the being (person) that He created.

However, as C.S. Lewis describes it in Mere Christianity with each choice we make, we either become more a heavenly creature or a more hellish creature.[5]   If we think of it as two aspects, the person, and the choices that change the relationship, we might understand the concept better.  The person(being) is always loved because God created us.  However, the choices we make either bring us closer to God or move us farther away.

God knows the potential of each person and wants us to receive the fullness of the good that He desires for us.[6]  He desires this for all His creation including abusers.  He loves them because He created them and they exist, but He does not love what they do.  The more they sin, the more they lose the humanity God created in them. Sin decreases their ability to experience the fullness of life and removes their desire to know God.

In all of this, God loves them as the being that He created. When they yield to evil, He cannot interact with them because evil does not come from God.[7]  While this explanation may seem too rational for some survivors, for me, it clarifies how God could love those who abused me.  Knowing that God loves all His creation, but not their sin makes sense to me.  When I combine that knowledge with faith, I understand that even when I feel ill-equipped to show love to those, I care about, I can ask Him to help me love them.  He will empower me with His strength.  He will be there. Perhaps understanding that God loves all things and that we are second only to Christ in His hierarchy will help you accept God’s love and the fullness that He desires for you. Perhaps you can fully comprehend John’s statement, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.”[8]

[3] Peter Kreeft, A Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica ; Edited and Explained (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993),  86.

[4] Ibid, 28.

[5] Lewis, Mere Christianity, 86.

[6] Kreeft, 85.

[7] Ibid.

[8] I John 3:1-3.

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