This is a rather long blog that won’t appeal to everyone. But perhaps there are a few of you who are experiencing difficult circumstances that will be encouraged by vulnerable exposure of my lessons about being loved.
I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve been married to two very wonderful and very different men. My first husband was loyal, dependable, generous and faithful, but he very rarely expressed his love for me in words. I wanted to hear “I love you” often! I fretted about this glaring lack in his husband qualities for a few years. But after trying to change him, I finally became desperate enough to be willing to change myself. What a concept! One of the first shifts was to ask myself, “How is he communicating his love for me that I’m not hearing or seeing?”
He had an annoying habit of washing the car on Sunday morning while I was trying to get myself and our two toddlers ready for church. One Sunday I looked out the kitchen window to see him, again, washing the car. It suddenly occurred to me that he was proud of his young family and one of the ways he expressed that was by driving to church in a clean, shiny car. I was flooded with the warm feelings of knowing I was loved.
Recently I’ve been going through a temporary period of financial distress. It’s surfaced a belief that if God loved me, I would always experience financial abundance…that God should demonstrate his love for me by consistently blessing me with great income. I’ve been frustrated that my affirmations and efforts have not brought the generous amounts of income as expected.
This week I finally admitted that I’m angry with God. Why isn’t he doing his job? Has he forgotten about me and my needs? Am I doing something wrong? Maybe he doesn’t love me.
But really, lots has been happening that supports me immeasurably. I’ve abandoned some of my limiting beliefs…like getting a NSF charge in my bank account makes me a bad person. It doesn’t. It means nothing about my character or integrity. It’s a temporary circumstance that the bank responds to very non-judgmentally with a NSF charge. Ho Hum…just another customer with not enough funds.
How about the belief that if I’m experiencing difficulty I’m doing something wrong? What if it doesn’t mean that at all? What if it only means that I’m on a journey and that this part of the journey is somewhat rocky?
Yesterday while driving I was singing some old hymns…sort of mindlessly letting my thoughts wander. Suddenly I thought, “What if God is loving me by allowing this season of struggle? Why should his love for me be judged by the health of my bank account? What if this time of financial stress is the best expression of being loved by God?”
So, I am no longer judging myself as “bad, wrong, irresponsible” for being occasionally overdrawn in my bank account. I no longer choose to believe that I’ve done or am doing anything “wrong” that has resulted in “punishment.”
My fears of financial ruin, or being unloved, or bad, or not working hard enough have been replaced by a sense of curiosity: I wonder what purpose is being worked out during this uncomfortable season? I wonder what solutions will evolve from this experience? I wonder where the money will come from to finance my next Costco run? Ten years from now, I wonder how I will evaluate this time…what will I see and appreciate that I can’t see now?
Yet, like recognizing my husband’s washing the car as an act of love, the abundance I desire is being heaped on me in ways other than a wealth of cash: A gift of a new (working!) printer, clients volunteering to do video testimonials for my website, a “chance” meeting that is resulting in free, thorough tutoring about Facebook advertising strategies, the gift of a gas gift card, a doctor who’s willing to hold my check in order to treat the pinched nerve in my back immediately, a dear friend/therapist who is not keeping track of her hours of support of me.
Every time I step into my home, or walk through the yard, or notice a bird bathing in my birdbath, I feel wealthy. Neither I nor my animals have gone hungry. All the vital bills have been paid. The bills that can wait, are waiting without burdening myself with shame or self-judgment.
So, my prayers have changed. In addition to praying for increased income and the wisdom to spot opportunities, I am also praying, “God, thank you for this time. I don’t particularly like it, but I trust that even this is an expression of your love for me. I’m not mad anymore. I trust you and trust the process that is being worked out in my life. Someday I will understand and appreciate every day of this season and every lesson learned.”
Meanwhile I am experiencing more peace than I would ever have thought possible. And, in the quietness, find myself finely attuned to receive guidance as it comes to me. Not perfectly. Not every minute of every day. But most of the time. And for that, I am humbly grateful!
Need to talk? Let’s get together!