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I am Loved. . . I am Loved NOT

We dream of it, we pray for it, we hope for it, we can be heartsick without it…love. It's part of our nature. We've been designed by God to love and be loved. You could say we are wired for relationships. Then why are relationships so hard at times? Why is true love so hard to find? Why do so many people give up believing they will ever be loved?

Born to Love, Molded by the Lie

While we have been created by God, we come into the world in Adam, imperfect and fallen. We enter a world which teaches that acceptance/love comes through appearance and performance. In other words, the world's system or formula states: Performance + Appearance = Love. Look right, act right, then you'll be loved. This lie perpetuated by the Evil One goes one step further: Find the right person, be in the right situation, then you will know you are loved.

To some degree, we all buy into this lie, some more than others. Those who have grown up knowing they were loved as children and being exposed to God's truth may have a head start. But I guarantee you this, they will still struggle at some time with believing they are loved.

But what if your childhood was lacking in some way? What if you come from a household of abuse or neglect? What if your parents didn't have time for you and you never felt loved? Are you doomed to never finding love? No, not at all. There is hope. But I will say this, reaching the point of believing, with utter confidence, that you are loved is, for some, an endless, lifetime pursuit.

A Search for Love

Terri (not her real name) believed the lie. While she never experienced any abuse in childhood, she felt neglected by her parents. Early on, she learned to gain attention through the physical. Her popularity in school, she believed, was based on her performance. Years later when she entered the workplace, her experience only validated this belief. And the more successful she became, the more she resented having to perform to feel accepted.

Terri's relationships suffered as well, anchored only in the unpredictable, shifting sands of performance. During her first marriage, both she and her husband were unfaithful to each other. When it came right down to it, Terri wanted to save the marriage, but her husband didn't. They divorced and Terri was left emotionally bankrupt.

By this time, she believed no one could ever possibly love her and she gave up, which set her on a path of self-destructive behavior. I have seen this response in others who seem to live out a suicide wish. They may believe they will never be loved so they just go ahead and live as if that were true. At certain times they may appear functional, even emotionally healthy, and then go on binges of self-destruction. This was true of Terri.

Love's Proving Ground

During the counseling process, Terri went through a time of healing. She came to accept God's love for her—at least by faith. She also began to believe she could be freed up from the damage of her childhood and what she had done to herself. Before long, her faith in being loved entered, what I call, the "proving ground." It's where knowledge or belief moves from the head to the heart. It's where we "get it." It's where we finally know. Far from being instantaneous, this process may take a good deal of time.

In Terri's case, God brought a godly, sincere man into her life who loved her deeply. During their courtship, engagement and even into their marriage, Terri tested his love for her. Through it all, her husband was faithful to be there for her.

Terri's reaction to her husband's unwavering love corroborates a fact I've seen countless times. Even though someone has all she (or he) may need to know that she is loved, she still may not accept that she is a loved person.

Facing the Fear, Accepting the Truth

Each of us must come to grips with the lie that if I find the right person and/or the right circumstances, then I'll know I am loved. In addition, we must also face the fear of not being loved. If we don't, our fear will actually push others away. It will keep us from experiencing God's love. We then must let God "fix" our fear His way. Otherwise we will continue the cycle of trying to find a person to ease the fear and prove that we are loved. And no person can prove that fact to us.

Ultimately, I believe God brings everyone to the point of really knowing, experientially, we are loved—unconditionally—by Him. Once we accept that He loves us, we can stop believing the lie of the flesh and of the world that we have to perform to get love and then find some human to prove it to us. The bottom line is that nobody can prove to us that we are loved. We have to accept it. We must believe it from God, whether we feel it or not.

God is love. And He proved His love for us through who He is and what He did for us. That should be proof enough. But each of us is "in process," coming to the point of maturity to believe God loves us and then acting on that love. We don't need to seek to get love from others, but we seek to accept God's love for us and then let His love flow through us. I guess you could say that is the true formula for love.

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