After I sent out the our Lifestream Update for Fall about God’s enjoyment of us as his kids, I got a few emails back from some individuals certain that was not true for them. One had the title I’ve used above. “He cannot love me!”
The reasons in each email vary. If I only understood the choices they had made, the abuses they had suffered, the troubles they had faced, and the feelings they didn’t have, I would agree with them. Their conclusion were all the same “I am damaged, or cursed, or ignored by God, if he exists at all.” Certainly God would not enjoy them.
I don’t read such emails lightly. They shatter something in my heart. But I’m glad they are at least reading and interacting with what I wrote. There is hope still. Their heart wants to embrace what their head tells them they can’t. It is a horrible darkness indeed to feel as when you cannot believe that God loves and desires you. There is no greater lie whispered in the universe than that God does not enjoy you and does not want you to know him. He does. Regardless of what evidence you feel you have to the contrary, it is a deceptive web spun in your head and heart. To think that you are too damaged for God is like a child who feels their diagnosis of cancer leaves their parents too disgusted to love them. The diagnosis doesn’t make you less loved, but even more endearing to the One who made you and cares about you so deeply.
How can he help but love you even more than I love my own granddaughter (above)? This world is incredibly cruel and horrible things happen to people. We are all tempted into actions and attitudes that we may even find contemptible. But when God looks at you he sees who you really are underneath all that has sought to twist you or destroy you. Remember, God doesn’t have love, he is love! It defines his very nature and that is focused on you as much as anyone else in the world. No one that’s existed was unloved by God and not invited into the knowing of him as an endeared child. The great horror of the Fall was not just that Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, but even more that in their disobedience they considered themselves no longer worthy of God’s affection. Shame drove them to the dark place of seeing God as their enemy, when Father’s love for them never waned.
That’s what God wants to win in us. His love, even at our most broken and destitute, is the flash of light that opens the door to a wider world. I know that isn’t easy to see from many people’s vantage points. The pain, guilt, or fear is so deep that we can’t see him when he’s right in front of us. “But couldn’t he make it more clear?” I’ve been asked. Of course not. Wouldn’t he make it as clear as possible to everyone? It’s fear and shame that feed the darkness and seem to affirm the lie. But it is nonetheless a lie.
You are deeply loved by the God who fashioned you. That doesn’t mean he loves all that we do or think, or the choices we make. He just doesn’t define us by those things. He looks on the heart to know who we really are and it’s that unique son or daughter in the middle of the brokenness that he loves and that he invites out of the darkness into his light. You may not hear that now or recognize it yet, but it is growing inside you. He speaks and though it may go unheard by your physical ears the truth settles deep in your soul first and then it will become more obvious. Just keep coming, asking, and in hope against hope believing.
Two people sent me some poems that encourage them when they felt they were too damaged to be seen and pursued by God Both are incredibly powerful and I hope you take the time to read the entire poems. The first is from Then the Whispers Started by Jenny Rowbory, a young woman who’s faith and courage inspires me. The words are God talking:
I will tell you of the wonders I see within you,
I will tell you again and again and again
until you come to believe the truth
instead of the lies.
For I love you
I delight in you
and I say that you are good.
Then someone else sent me David Whyte’s poem, Everything is Waiting for You. What a powerful look into the pain of our loneliness and how to find a way out:
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone…
Too feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings…
Put down the weight of your aloneness
and ease into the conversation…
Everything is waiting for you.
This is how his reality overtakes ours. It’s rarely a white knight riding in on a white horse changing all our thinking with the flash of a sword, but a God who continues to unfold himself in the recesses of our mind, and the revelation of Creation around us. The process may seem slow and less obvious that we’d want him to be, but I am convinced that God is reaching out to us in the best way imaginable, and it just takes time for us to see it and embrace it. What helps most is someone else who will reflect God’s love in the world. Find someone like that, and if you know his love be someone like that so that others still lost in the darkness might find a connection through you to the Father who delights in them.
One more thing, I read an article last week about how God created our brain and explains perhaps better than anything I’ve ever read what the renewing of the mind (Romans 12) looks like inside. It explains why transformation takes time as God rewires our brain to think differently. Of course, the article doesn’t have God in it, but I see his hand in this process. I’ve told people for years that moving from a performance-based, fear-based relationship with God to learning to live in his affection takes many years. We just don’t have the synapses yet to contain a different story than the one pain and shame schooled us in. But all of that can change and I’m grateful the Holy Spirit is involved in the process. The article is here: Good News: If You Keep Your Brain Active, It Will Continue to Grow Long Past Your 20s. Brad and I talk about it on the podcast that will release Friday at The God Journey. Here’s an excerpt:
BY DAVID EAGLEMAN FROM THE BOOK FROM THE BRAIN: THE STORY OF YOU
A baby’s neurons form two million new connections every second as they take in information. By age two, a child has over 100 trillion synapses—double the number an adult has.
This peak represents far more connections than the brain will need. The incredible blooming is then supplanted by neural “pruning.” As you mature through the teen years and into your 20s, 50 percent of your synapses will be pared back.
Which synapses stay, and which go? When a synapse successfully participates in a circuit, it is strengthened; synapses that aren’t used are weakened and eventually eliminated. Just as with paths in a forest, you lose the connections that you don’t use.
By age 25, our brains appear to be fully developed. But even in adulthood, the brain can form new connections…
If you’re having trouble believing that God would enjoy and desire you, you are not alone. Take hope! He is winning this place in your heart. Just dare to believe in whatever small way you can, that you just might be wrong, and that God doesn’t look at you like you think he does. That will give you enough space to go on a different journey and see just how loved you really are!
7 thoughts on ““He Cannot Love Me””
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Wayne. What a cool article…a healing balm…medicine for my soul. I will print it to meditate upon its truths as I continue my journey.
From early years I felt unloved and that God was angry with me. Not to go into any great detail, but my feelings about God from my upbringing were commensurate with my feelings about the parenting and toxic faith I had received. My father was schizophrenic and my mother was mostly overwhelmed with 11 pregnancies (3 miscarriages) and an abusive husband.
Needless to day I got my God image from my father and at the tender formative age of 12 yrs I was the designated policeman to protect my mother and younger siblings from his fits of rage, meaning that my rage had to exceed his rage to get him to back off.
Fast forward for the next number of decades during which my rage terrified myself along with others. I lived in fear of hurting myself and those that were nearest and dearest to me. I could not receive love, believing that I was unlovable and people were just trying to make me feel better. For the years that I walked in desperation, loneliness, along with panics attacks I honestly don’t know how I survived.
Fast forward to the later decades. My older sister who was walking through her own hell on earth found a way out of her dungeon. It was through Jesus, but that was just the beginning. Together we discovered that our formative beliefs or echoes from the past were deeply imbedded into our personalities.
What was the practical part of Jesus as the remedy? After all, Is 61:1, He came to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. We discovered that only the Healer can heal. Through help from a very Godly and gifted helper we were taught to push through the lies, pain and avoidance of the original wounding process and discover that Jesus was waiting there for us.
When we were willing to emotionally revisit that awful hellish place and receive the Truth from Jesus Himself who spoke in a way that the child part of us could receive, then the “truth” that we had believed all the decades could be replaced with His Truth.
It took time to develop trust with this Jesus/God guy, but when we were ready he spoke in a way that could not resist be resisted. The hunger to be loved was greater than the need to protect, avoid, or disassociate (when you can feel the pain but not recall the memory or recall the memory but not feel the pain).
In 9 months bridging 2008 to 2009 I was not the same person. Today I walk in a place where I could never have dreamed that I could walk. I am still healing but I’m more fixed than broke. I no longer have the tormenting feelings and emotions that I lived with for decades. I have had numerous sessions along the way as further woundings have been uncovered and lied revealed, but there are no words to explain what it feels like to be loved by the Father on a daily basis. And out total healing will happen when we see Him, “for when we see Him we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is”.
If he did this for others He will do it for you. He has no favorites.
Thanks for sharing your story, Paul. I hope it encourages others who still feel unloved by God. It is a process and takes far more time than any of us would wish, but the fruit of him winning us into his love was joy like no other. “I’m more fixed than broke.” What a great statement. I rejoice with you even as I pray for others who so desperately need to know that as well.
With each step in this process of, learning to live in the Father’s affection, the more freedom I’ve experienced. I love this journey!
‘Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back…’ (George Herbert, Love 111). As an adult I was asked to imagine Jesus with me, watching over me, when I was a child. After 5 minutes of trying I said I couldn’t. Years later as I read Paul in Gal. 1:15-16a ‘But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me….’ it was as if scales fell from my eyes and I realised I too had been loved, known, watched over and cared for by God throughout all my life. The uncertain prodigal in me realised the Father’s reception was not what he expected. While our paths to discovering this truth may vary, the truth is the same for each of us.
We had a recent family reunion and sure as shootin’ it was only time before we got to “the subject”.
People milling and remilling the past and the pain but were not “broke enough” to pursue healing, at least in the right place.
I sat quietly with the odd comment but when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit I spoke. And it was a mouthful. People sat in stunned silence after I gave my piece. Essentially it consisted of validating what had been said but then bringing into focus the reality that what we had experienced was likely on the lower end of the spectrum.
I mentioned that I had met a person who grew up in the era and area that I did and was raised in a family of 17 of which he was the 9th. My comment was that after reading the 1st chapter of his book entitled Call Me Adam available on A ____0n I had to put it down as the impact was too “heavy” in that I realized that maybe I didn’t have it all that bad.
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