Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Permanently Heart-Shaped Sleeve, Take 2

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." -Jeremiah 1:5

(The previous edition of this post is here. Oh, and there's more here, too.)

I am a person who loves deeply. When I invest in someone, I do so with everything I have within me. When you get to know me and I become invested in you, well, sorry about your luck, but you're stuck with me for life. I love people. I try to seek out where people are coming from and give them the benefit of the doubt over and over. I see the potential in people and pray and believe for them to reach it. A childhood friend of mine recently said, "One of the best things about you is that you care about people like crazy. You don't give up on them even when they've given up on themselves." What an amazing compliment! I only hope to live up to that.

It's against my nature to do otherwise. I can't. Now, mind you, it's all God. It's the work He has done in me that has made me this way, and try as I sometimes do to fight it, I just can't seem to do anything else.

But it isn't always easy. Sometimes it's really, really hard.

This summer has been very long and difficult for me. To be honest, I'll be glad to see it end and move into a new season. There's a lot of change happening in my life right now - I'm starting a new job tomorrow, and I'll be moving in a few weeks, and everything will, again, be different.

The last time this happened (which, incidentally, was two months ago), I was terrified. I didn't want things to change. I was afraid of the change because I was afraid of losing the closeness that I have with several people whom I love and have invested in deeply. I think, somehow, I knew it would happen. And it did.

To be honest, this summer has been one of the loneliest of my life. I've felt unwanted, replaced, forgotten. Not good enough. Not worth the effort. I've gone weeks without seeing my very close friends, and when I do, it's not the same as it was two months ago.

And I've felt empty, like I have absolutely nothing left in me to give. It's an unnatural, uncomfortable state for me. It's been miserable. I'm a giver. I delight in giving of myself, my time, my energy, and my emotions to build others up within deep, close relationships. But all I've felt this summer is empty.

Not surprisingly, I've felt far from God for weeks. I know He's working, but I haven't yet seen the results of what He's up to. I'm just supposed to trust. I do trust. If I've learned anything over the last six months or so, it's that God can do whatever He wants and all I have to do is trust Him.

But it's still been a long, terribly lonely summer.

Then, this afternoon, as I was driving down Capital Boulevard in Raleigh on my way home to my temporary apartment, I was sitting at a stoplight and noticed that one of the cars in front of me had a bumper sticker that read, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." -God

And I burst into tears.

He knew me. He knew what I would be like when He created me. He knew every single fault I would have and He made me anyway. He loves me, and He loves me despite my faults.

He doesn't hold back His affection because He thinks I'm too emotional or too needy or because sometimes I get really upset and frustrated and act in ways I know I shouldn't. When I come to Him for love and peace, He doesn't throw my mistakes in my face. He knows my worries and my fears and every thought that goes through my head. He knows - dare I say it? - my sins, and the things I stupidly put between Himself and me, and He is always working to break through them and get to me on a higher, closer, deeper level. He knows we can work on the problems I have together, and He can change me and get me to overcome them by His grace. He doesn't tell me not to believe for impossible things - in fact, He made me to believe Him for them.

He knew there would be moments when I would cry out to Him and ask Him why He made me? Why He kept me alive? Why He doesn't love me? Why I have to go through the things He's putting me through? He knew I would be tempted to turn my back on Him during the trials. He knew I would sit in despair and wonder where He was, when He was right there all along.

He knew me. He made me. And He loves me.

I cried the rest of the way home.

Is it scary to get emotionally invested in people? Absolutely. I'm terrified, even now. Because I know that when I do, I'm bound to get hurt along the way. There's really no question that it's going to happen. The people we're closest to are the people who will hurt us the most.

But living otherwise - withholding myself and keeping myself closed off and fenced in - would be disrespectful to my Daddy who will heal any wound with His unconditional love. He made me this way - to love deeply and richly and to believe in Him and in the people He puts in my life. He made me to be an encourager, a giver - someone who won't give up.

He knew me. He knew what He was doing. So I just have to trust Him and know that whenever I need to, I can crawl up into His arms and He'll say, just as He did in the car on the way home, "I love you so much, my precious little girl."