Last week’s Valentine’s Day holiday has had me thinking a lot about topics surrounding love and relationships. The holiday is known to trigger a plethora of feelings depending on ones current relationship status. The difference between “single,” “taken” and “it’s complicated” can make or break our views on love and whether or not we were smitten, disgusted or depressed last Sunday.
Chances are, we’ve all been in one of those places at one time or another. Currently, as a recently married and madly in love woman, I am smitten with the holiday. I’ve never been so excited to find the perfect gift for my Hubby. Nothing says “I love you” like a custom ammo box, right?
In previous years I’ve been disgusted and rolled my eyes at the store front displays of teddy bears and chocolate covered fruit. As I’d bypass all the “commercial holiday gifts” and make my way to the hard liquor aisle, I’d proudly think, “It’s better to have loved and lost than live with a jerk the rest of my life.” Take that, Cupid!
The depressed years either came from mourning the loss of a loved one or the memory of an amicable breakup. You know, the relationships you look back on without hostility. The ones with people you would speak of fondly and wish the best for. The ones who just couldn’t be what you needed them to be.
Last week I wrote about how to Obtain The Desires Of Your Heart. I wrote about acceptance and how it’s not easy to accept the opposite of what we desire, but that lack of acceptance is what prevents us from moving forward. I realized, never has this been more applicable than with our relationship, or lack thereof, with God.
If you’ve ever been single, you can probably admit to “searching” for the right partner and the right relationship. It’s said we search for love in all the wrong places. Regardless of where we search or how we search, the goal is constant, to find a loving relationship. Often the question is asked, why it is so hard to find love? I believe I’ve found the answer.
When I started out on what I call my “Jesus journey” my intent was to build my relationship with Jesus. One of the first questions I asked when I began studying with my downstairs neighbors, Ron and Judy Warpole, was,
“If God is as loving as those who follow Him claim Him to be, why must I search for Him? Why must any of us have to search for Him? Isn’t He always with us? Why don’t we automatically feel Him within us and have this precious relationship? Why do I have to consciously seek Him out to feel His love for me?”
The answer was simple but profound.
We have to search for God because we are stuck in our own minds. We allow ourselves to believe and make Him what we want Him to be vs Him telling us who He really is. We don’t have a relationship with Him because we don’t understand Him, and because of that, we don’t accept Him in our life.
We can look all the way back to the book of Genesis and see that God created us in His image, but since then, we have created Him in our image. We’ve made up our own theories of who we want Him to be and what kind of God we are willing to accept.
For me, a prime example of this was when my best friend died. It was June 15th, 1998. That was the day I broke up with God because “MY God” would never take the life of the smartest, kindest, funniest, bravest, 15-year-old boy in the world. “MY God” wouldn’t take my rock from me.
Have you ever caught yourself saying the same thing? “MY GOD would never (insert situation here).” I’ve learned the reason we don’t accept these “God” things is because of a lack of understanding. We refuse to accept what we deem unacceptable and end up pushing ourselves further away from Him.
Often times in a relationship, we want the other person to be someone they’re not. Sometimes, we hang on, often for way too long, in hopes that the person will change. Because we can’t accept who that person is, we let them go. Because we can’t accept some of their “non-negotiable” traits, we walk away, or in God’s case, chose another path of “spirituality.”
In order to have a relationship with Him, we have to accept Him. In order to accept Him, we have to understand Him. In order to understand Him, we have to know Him. We have to seek Him out and pray that He puts us in front of the people, places and things that will guide us to Him.
God has a lot of rules and requires obedience. His commandments aren’t exactly the easiest to follow. I will be the first to admit, they can be hard to accept.
I wish God didn’t command that I love my neighbor as myself. Sure, it’s easy when I think of Ron and Judy, but He doesn’t just mean my physical neighbors. He means everyone, including the politicians that make me sick. That’s hard for me to accept, but I understand His why.
I have to laugh to myself when I hear people question God’s existence or more so when it’s suggested that God is a man-made figure. Man would never, ever create a God that required the obedience and discipline God asks for. We would never create something with “rules” so hard to follow or that required the road less traveled to be taken. We would never have created an image so authoritative. No, we would create the path of least resistance, a path much easier to accept.
Some folks try to change God or justify how they think about God or what they are willing to accept. People do this to try to keep up with times and current trends in society. It’s a hard pill to swallow to accept that God (and the Bible) do not change with culture, but instead, God (and the Bible) should change culture.
It’s inevitable that people will change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. It’s unfortunately true that some relationships fail because of this. There is only one exception to this and that is with God. God Himself says, “For I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) Even Jesus didn’t teach anything new or different. He just quoted from the original Hebrew text of the Bible. God is the one constant in our life. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 12:8)
Successful relationships and marriages last because the parties are willing to accept their partner’s character flaws. They’re willing to accept the changes that will inevitably come as time goes on. This is true in our relationship with God, except unlike human relationships, we don’t have to worry about God accepting us and loving us no matter what. God’s love and acceptance of us is a guarantee from Him. But like human relationships, we have to accept the things we don’t understand and we have to accept our partner as they are, not who we prefer them to be. We have to accept God as He is, as He will clearly show us, instead of who we want Him to be.
I’ve prayed the serenity prayer for the majority of my life. It starts with “God, grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change.”
I realized all those years without Him, I was really praying for Him and my own acceptance of Him. I realize that God being unchangeable is the greatest gift and security I could ask for. It doesn’t matter how much I change or what mistakes I make or what character flaws I have, God’s love and acceptance of me will never change or be altered. Though this is true for everyone, in order to have a personal relationship with Him, we must reciprocate that understanding and accept Him and His will into our life. That is when the relationship we all search for is found.
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Debbie Dowen says
Once again, your thoughts are perfectly stated. I love, how each week, I am drawn to contemplate your message and to seek answers and peace from God for my ever changing life and some difficult situations that have presented themselves. Thank you for your honesty and your always thought provoking posts! Love you girl!
Thank you…my thoughts generally feel like a train running off the tracks, so I appreciate your kind words! Lots of praying involved to get something coherent on paper, LOL!