Today, I am honored to share a part of my story on Sarah Bailey Farish's blog as part of her 30 Days of Story project. Feel free to hop over and read how I get to that place where I AM is where I simply am.
For readers of that story, and for pretty much anyone who has ever heard pieces of my story, it's easy to kind of get lost in this crazy, messed-up love that doesn't always look like love and yes, has not necessarily always felt like love. Until a few years ago, I would have adamantly, unarguably, woundedly insisted that I had never been loved.
But that's simply not true. As I'm coming to discover through my own broken love, I have always been crazy loved. Just emphasize that "crazy" a bit.
The pain, I think, has been from this word "love" being so often disconnected from what I always imagined the experience of love ought to be. My family never hesitated to say "I love you" when walking out the door, hanging up the phone, sometimes even going to bed at night. And the truth is that it was explicitly clear that if you're family, we love you. Regardless of anything else that might ever happen, we love you because you are family, you are a part of us, and even when we don't always like you, we love you. This has been true from my end, as well. Love was a noun.
I've known the word love, but I have been so lost on what that looks like.
As I continued to grow through life and through circumstance, I kind of found my own breed of love and started trying to put motion behind my words. To really love people, as if love were a verb. I found a few ways to do that, I thought, and it lent more pain to that hollow place in me that had never imagined love could be so....felt. When I discovered that love ought to be more than just something that sounds good, I couldn't figure out what that four-letter word we'd been using really meant any more. If it had ever meant anything at all.
Because the more I learned to really love people, the more I longed to be loved. To have ever been loved. And I was looking back on a story that didn't look like love to me.
But it was a story I was only beginning to touch. Time wore on, and I came face-to-face with more of my woundedness, more of my own brokenness, and I caught new eyes to see my greater heart in all of this mess that I had no idea needed so much sorting through, so much touched. Wrapped up in all that hurt was somehow, somewhere God, and I got this very small taste of what Love really is.
Love embraces the constancy of the noun and the tangible experience of the verb.
I'd been in the battle between them both. Growing up not feeling it, but knowing it...and somewhere finding it, but not always knowing it. I'd come to feel like if I wasn't actively loving you, I wasn't loving you at all. Then I'd suddenly find in all my idleness that of course I love you, but I hadn't been showing it.
My love was as crazy, messed-up, and broken a love as I'd so long resented having in my narrative. Guilty.
I was able to see, as I continued to dive through my own story, how my own brokenness changed my love. It changed my motives. It changed my actions. It changed the way I was able to relate to the loved and to love itself. And one day, I looked at some of the very same people - some family, some friends - who I resented for not loving me, and I was able to see through their brokenness what their measure of love was.
I never felt so loved.
I learned to appreciate the kind of crazy love coming from crazy people all around me. You can't blame people anymore for the broken way they love you when you plainly see that that's the only love they have to give. When you realize that your crazy, broken love is the only love you have to give.
At the same time, there was this holy love all around me, this broken, messed-up love wrapped around the core of God's love, which my heart was trying to feel. I just...couldn't. I didn't know how. I still don't know how. I have all these grand ideas about what love is, what it's supposed to be, what it's supposed to feel like and yet, I can't figure out how to let myself feel loved by that.
I mean, it's there. It's here. Pure love is here, and it's absolutely everything I ever imagined it would be. Perfect. Peaceful. Promising. Present. I've discovered so much about the perfect love of God, and there's this deep ache as I yearn to let myself settle into that a little. Take it in. Trust it. Believe it.
It's just so pure. It's just so fantastically wonderful and everything I could have imagined it would be and so much more, and it's a hard kind of love to let myself get so wrapped up in because it's so radically different than the crazy, messed-up, broken love I can finally appreciate.
But then I think about what this love really is, what this love really means. I think about what it is that's being loved, this entirety of me as broken, messed-up, and whacked out as I am and about Who it is who's loving, this perfect, passionate, righteous, holy Lord, the very Author of Love who loves me with His fervent, inexplicable Love...and you know what? That seems sort of crazy, too. That God would be so crazy about me.
So I can only conclude that this is all that love is - this steadiness of a noun that defines that love simply always is and the experience of the verb that is whatever we bring into it, as both the lover and the loved. And it's not so hard to see that I have always been crazy loved.