God Stories: Amy
God Stories is a weekly segment where people from every possible location on the spectrum of faith tells the story of how they got there. They do not necessarily represent the views of the blog as a whole. If you would like to share your story, please see the submission guidelines here.
I think of my relationship with God in terms of a marriage in some ways - or at least as much as this single girl could imagine it.
With new or superficial human relationships there's more emphasis on the exterior. "How do I look? Will he reject me if I look fat or don't dress the way he likes or my personality isn't to his liking?” In the beginning stages of this spiritual relationship of mine, it translated to a list of dos and don'ts. I knew I was loved by Him. After all, I sang the song "Jesus Loves Me" more often than the ABCs as a child, but in my immaturity I thought His love was directly contingent on what I did to deserve it. Certainly, the view I had of God at the time of being harsh, judgmental and hard to please fueled my insecurities.
As time went on, the relationship grew and I began to see Him in a different light. Contrary to what my subconscious might have told me, God wasn’t like some chafed teacher peering over his reading spectacles gleefully waiting for me to screw up so he could whack me with a ruler. He was becoming a true friend. There were, of course, rocky seasons that put a strain on the friendship, but I stuck it out.
And then, one day it happened. It was as if I had been childhood friends with the boy next door who was secretly in love with me my whole life, but then I realized I was falling in love with him, too! This ardent Pursuer of my heart hadn't changed at all, but over time I was seeing these irresistibly attractive and admirable traits in Him I had never really seen or truly appreciated - and He was in love with ME!
After so many years together, He was obviously aware of all my strange quirks, my faults and weaknesses, but He still wanted ME! My commitment deepened. I thought about my “new-found” Love all the time! My perspective quite easily changed from doing things out of obligation to doing things out of my love for Him and because of the love I felt from Him. I couldn't, at that moment, imagine anything tearing us apart.
But, as anyone in a relationship knows, adversity is the test of true commitment. Eventually "real life" set in. The mundane was the first test. Would I continue to put effort into this relationship, getting to know God on a deeper level even though the goose bumps had ceased? Would I choose to stay busy with life rather than living in the awareness of His desire for me to enjoy time with Him as much as He enjoyed time with me?
To be honest, I spent many years living "under the same roof" with Him, but the feelings had gone for the most part, save the occasional emotional or spiritual "high" when I would recall the days of being “in love”. I was going through the motions because I had made a commitment, but my heart was not in it. There were even times I became dissatisfied with my relationship with God and started looking elsewhere, dreaming of how it might be better if things were different. I knew when I committed to this relationship I wasn't promised a bed of roses, but somehow I thought my life would look differently with Him in it.
And then came the crucibles...the times I questioned God’s commitment to me, the times I perceived His actions as unloving, the times it felt as if He was totally absent, the times I was asking the questions and I wasn't satisfied with the answers I was getting or, more often, wasn't getting. This is when I wanted to walk away. I probably came close more times than I'd like to admit.
But one thing I've come to know about God is that He's not angry with me when I accuse Him. He's not intimidated by my questions. He doesn't respond to my indictments out of His non-existent insecurities by yelling, "Fine! Have it your own way, but you'll be sorry!", then storm out of my life, slamming the door. My relentless Pursuer’s heart towards me, regardless of the state of my own, is always for reconciliation. He would much rather that I be angry with Him and shake my fist in His face than to walk away.
Enveloped in my pain, I would finally allow myself to be held by Him. Still fighting. Still angry. Still with questions left unanswered. Still pounding my bruised and bloody fists into His chest...but held. Though there were many times I thought for sure I had gone too far in my cursing and I waited for the hammer of judgment to crush me, it is there in the embrace of the Divine I would eventually come to realize that His love and commitment towards me never wavered. What kind of love is this?! Once again, I would sense His compassion and feel His affection for me. His extravagant and furious love overpowers my defenses and my misdirected blame and accusations are dropped.
All these years later, this infinite and yet intimate God still surprises me with facets of His character I've never seen or truly appreciated and I find myself falling in love with Who He is all over again. He still demonstrates His unending love to me in ways only He knows would make my heart happy and again I am smitten.
Sure, there are still times the goose bumps are gone and I feel like I'm just going through the motions and yes, there are times I get angry and question Him, but if I remember all the times God has proven Himself to me, through good times and bad, I am at rest and secure knowing I am unconditionally loved through it all.