Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't want God's forgiveness....I want YOURS

The above song came on while I was sewing and kind of took me aback. If you know me very well, you know the whole idea of a personal relationship with God just hasn't worked for me and not for lack of trying. So these kinds of songs can potentially really drive me nuts. It's these songs that when I really, really wanted nothing more than to have a relationship with Jesus, got me all choked up and my chest all tight and full of longing. It was disappointing and painful to not find that relationship that I wanted so much. So hearing songs like this one can kind of sock me in the gut the way listening to an old song you associate with a past relationship gone bad can do.

But today I was too lazy to get up from the sewing machine and pass the song so I listened to it. I heard something different this time. Instead of hearing it as a song about how God overlooks my mistakes and sees past them (I could write a book about why this feels like bullshit, but that's not this post), I heard it in a much more meaningful way. The song wasn't about God at all today. It was about my husband. My friends. It was about the people who, despite the mistakes I've made and despite the pain I've caused, love me.

Instead I heard this (I've changed some words and set them in red):

Well the past is playing with my head

And failure knocks me down again
I’m reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just wont let me forget

In this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
Cause I’m forgiven

My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days, in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry

In this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

[back to chorus]

When I don't fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of [James, Belinda, Pat, Vicki, Brian, Laura, etc.] 

[back to chorus]

Listen to the song again and insert the name of someone you know loves you 100% unconditionally. Imagine those arms being where you "know who you are." I don't know about you, but it means so much more to be the treasure in the arms of my husband, especially after the year we have just gone through, than to be a treasure in the arms of Christ.When I'm in pain, it's not God's arms around me...it's those who love and accept me. When I feel rejected, judged and most of all, misunderstood, being able to be really SEEN by even one person is huge.

The point is...this is what love feels like:
-To be more you in the arms of the other than out of them.
-To be seen, really seen...and loved because of that.
-To look into the eyes of the other and see that they TREASURE you.
-To be forgiven. And that means more than, "It's o.k." It means they look past your mistakes to the person they know you ARE and they don't define you by your mistakes.

Why is it that Christians talk so much about God feeling those things for us, and so little about us loving others that way? Being loved that way? I'm not saying I have a problem with others talking about God loving me that way, but I do have a problem if the person saying it to me isn't loving me that way themselves. As a Christian I did a lot of this. I would love people in this lazy "third party" way, essentially referring them, their pain and their longings TO God. Instead of bear-hugging them or taking them home for dinner, I'd tell them I'd be praying for them.

And that's pretty insane. If my daughter comes to me in tears and says, "Nobody loves me. I feel like I don't fit in. I hurt," I am not going to give her the therapist's phone number. I'm not going to tell her to go talk to her daddy. I'm not even going to tell her to go read the Bible and think about how much God loves her. I'm going to wrap that little girl up in my arms and not let go until I have done everything in my power to make sure she "gets" just how fantastic she is and how much I love her.

Maybe Christian musical artists would do better to stop singing about God's love all the time and start singing about loving others. Isn't that who Jesus was anyway? He didn't walk around asking to be loved and saying he loved people. He walked around and LOVED. He met needs. He spoke comfort. He touched people. He loved them with his heart, his mind, his hands, his face and his voice. It's the whole "becoming flesh and dwelling among us" business, right?

Let's talk more about THAT. Let's talk about how to love. Let's talk about what kind of love we long for. That's HOW we will know how to love others. If your someone who does experience God's love as real, that's awesome. Maybe you can try to keep in mind that there are people like me for whom words about God loving me just fall flat. I don't want words. I want hands that reach for me, arms that hold me and eyes that light up when they see me.


Alise said...

I wrote a piece last week called "All I Need" wherein I discussed the idea that seems to be popular in Christian music that Jesus/God is "all we need." I don't think that at all. Even if one is a Christian, the Bible is full of examples of us needing PEOPLE, not just the God. Even in Genesis 1, God, who is presumably RIGHT THERE with Adam calls Adam "alone" when there is no other person there.

And again, regardless of one's beliefs, it seems to me that BEING love is a lot more important than TALKING ABOUT love. I once heard a pastor say that you can't love someone and hold them at arms' length. That has stuck with me always. If I'm not embracing someone, no matter what, I don't really love them.

Jonathan Brink said...

Alise, do you have a link to that?

And Cheryl, this is a lovely post. It all points to love, doesn't it.

Cheryl Ensom Dack said...

Love that, Alise. I have always, even when I was a Christian, felt like that whole "Jesus is all we need" thing was bullshit. I tried NOT to think that, of course! But that's what my gut said. But I never, ever thought about the reference to Genesis 1 you make. That is EXACTLY right. I also really love this that you said: "If I'm not embracing someone, no matter what, I don't really love them."


Cheryl Ensom Dack said...

Here's the link to Alise's wonderful post:

Post a Comment