Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unconditional


I'm not perfect.

Big surprise. You're all shocked, I know.

I make mistakes. (Lots of them.)

I stumble. (Often.)

I fall. (Hard.)

I sin.

But even through all of the ugly that is inside of me, even through all of the times I fail to love, God still loves me. Even in those times that I want to refuse that love, it is there, gently urging and encouraging me to come back and be loved. Unconditionally.


And even though this gift of love is so freely given, even though it comes with no attachments, it is still so stinkin' hard for me to believe I am loved and accept it as truth.

I was raised in an abusive household where no matter what I did, I was never enough. I was never pretty enough. I was never skinny enough. I was never smart enough. I had no personality, no friends, and no one was ever going to love me - or so the terrible illness that is bipolar disorder pushed my mom to tell me over and over again. And my sister who fell victim to the same abuse found release in joining in the torment if anything just to shift the focus away from herself.

I was surrounded by hate.

I was conditioned into thinking that everything I did was flawed and ugly. I believed it. I was consumed by it. And to be honest, I still fall victim to it.

I still deeply fear being the focus of attention and am always waiting for others to point out my flaws. I tear myself to shreds and send myself into panic attacks if I even think I may have hurt someone's feelings. As one of my best friends once stated, I "have a guilty conscience the size of the continental U.S." My biggest fear is upsetting someone. I hesitate to share my opinions and often walk with my head down to both hide my imperfections and ensure that I don't say or do the wrong thing.

And yet, despite all of these shortcomings, despite my brokenness, despite my hesitation and resistance, God continues to love me! I'm sure you can understand why that is such a tough concept for me to wrap my head around.

Now, I do not share this with you for your pity or to one-up anyone on personal struggles. To be honest, it wasn't until late in my undergraduate career that I shared this with anyone for that very reason. I share a small piece of my story with you to illustrate that each of us has experienced someone or something that has told us we are not good enough and therefor don't deserve to be loved.

I share this with you because in my few years in ministry, I have found that so many people can relate to some piece of my story - to that feeling of unworthiness. At some point in time, for one reason or another, most everyone has felt unworthy of being loved.

And for me, it is in this shared brokenness - it is in this desire to be loved and to love - that I most truly feel the presence of God's unconditional love. It is our support and care for one another, our solidarity and compassion, that binds us in love.

It is in friends who help me recognize when I'm being to critical or too self-deprecating that I am able to grow through my past and journey into my future. I once felt weak and shameful for needing this support or encouragement from others outside of God's love, but have grown and learned that it isn't outside of God at all.

We bring the love of God to others.

It is unearned. There are no strings attached to it. It just is. God is love.

And I know that there are times when you may feel lost and have a really hard time believing that you are loved - even by God. Please know that you are not alone and that so many of us are praying for you now and always.

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I'm not perfect. I am still learning to be loved. I'm still moving from the "knowing" in my head to the knowing God's love for me in my heart.

And that's ok.

I am loved. You are loved. And I will continue to pray daily that we may always remember and recognize that Love and grow in it together.

I love you.

Peace,
Sarah

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I think it's important to note that while I was in undergrad, God's grace showed my mom a way through a lot of the darkness by getting diagnosed as bipolar and seeking treatment. It is God's example of unconditional love that is allowing our relationship to reconcile, to heal, and to grow - though I have to admit, it has been a long process filled with stumbles and turns. I pray to one day be able to love without boundaries as Christ loves us.

*** Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood and Faith and Fellowship

8 comments:

  1. This is SO GOOD. I was also raised in a very broken home without a glimpse of the Lord, and yet He called me out when I was 11 years old to be different. I am so thankful for his grace and His pursuit of me. Statistically, I should not be a Christian... no one else in my family is. God had other plans. <3

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    1. Thanks so much Jessi! God works in such mysterious ways. I'm so happy you have found a home in that unconditional love!
      Peace, Sarah

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  2. Hi Sarah, Your message so touches my heart because it is the message God has given me to share, as well. Our worth - something satan works relentlessly to steal, is something so many battle, especially women. I am so glad I found you Simple Moments Stick! I was so blessed by my time here! I am thrilled to make a new friend with a similar heart in the blogging world!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

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    1. Hi Lori! Thank you so much for such beautiful kind words. I'm so happy that blogging has created the ability to network and meet beautiful people like yourself. Thanks for reading. I look forward to getting to know you more :)
      Peace, Sarah

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  3. And didn't Jesus say that by our love the world will know us as His disciples? And he prayed for us to be united? :) The command sounds easy (to love one another) and yet there are moments when we ourselves find it difficult to *receive* love, let alone give it. I'm glad you highlighted that God is love and that our failures and difficulties are smaller compared to Him.
    Thanks for sharing your heart, Sarah. Praying for our continued growth in love.

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    1. Thanks for your prayers, Patricia. They mean so much. May we all continue to grow in love.
      Peace, Sarah

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  4. Thank you so much for posting this. While I know God loves me unconditionally, sometimes it is so much easier to beat myself up, focus on my flaws and wonder how I am anything special. It's hard to put into words, but reading this brought me some peace today.

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    1. I feel so incredibly blessed to have brought you some peace, dear. Thank you. Much love!
      Peace, Sarah

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