Monday, April 19, 2010

More on God's Abundant Love

Last week, I posted some thoughts on God and His Love. Then, I went away on a weekend retreat, at a retreat center chosen because: 1) I'd never been there, 2) it was only about 30 minutes from my house, 3) they had a women's retreat this past weekend, and 4) there was space available.

I had not even considered the retreat theme, which was "Believing is Seeing: Take a Closer Look," before I arrived at the retreat center.

The main thing I've been pondering since my retreat at Vision of Peace last month is God's love. I've prayed about it. We discussed it in Spiritual Direction a few weeks back. It's filled my thoughts, and spilled into my blog.

As I crossed the Mississippi River on Friday afternoon, I was struck by a line from the song "The Altar and the Door" by Casting Crowns drifting out of my CD player. "Lord, I'm trying so hard to stop trying so hard." I hit the replay button. "I'm trying so hard to stop trying so hard."

That's me. Trying so hard. And, in the trying, never succeeding... at least, never to my own satisfaction. And if I am not satisfied with me, then how could God, perfection Himself, be satisfied?

Last Sunday, I was gifted with this revelation about my running: when I run with a goal (i.e., a race), I am miserable. I am 5' 2" tall, nearly 38 years old, and (while I've lost nearly 20 pounds this winter), I'm still carrying about 15 extra pounds around. I am never going to run as quickly as I want. But, if I am running to enjoy the feeling of running, to notice the sun shining through the leaves and shimmering on the grass, to praise God with my body, to reach that opened-up feeling of deep calm, then running is pure joy.

So, as I settled into the retreat, I asked myself this question: where else am I trying so hard? Where else can I change my definition of success?

And everywhere I turned during this weekend, I was reminded of the depth of God's love.

Friday night, during the first conference, one of the presenters said, "Learn to live loved." The meditation sheet handed out Friday night was filled with biblical quotes demonstrating God's abiding love. Saturday morning conference: each one of us is, first and foremost, a beloved child of God. Saturday afternoon, I met one-on-one with one of the presenters for a short time. "Jennifer, go out there and bask in God's love for you" was how he ended our session.

And I did.

I lay on the side of a grassy hill, in the full sunshine, and soaked up the abundance of love that the Lord poured out onto me. I breathed the silence. I found the peace. And then, I heard it, deep inside my head, yet not my own voice: "Let me love you."

Let me love you.

Be open to being loved. Stop trying so hard. Just be. Just be loved.

And so, that is my promise, my gift from the retreat: I am going to let myself be loved. I am going to (try to) accept the love that is freely and wholly given to me. I am going to stop trying so hard to be good enough, fast enough, strong enough, worthy enough... and just be me. Even that totally imperfect, completely fault-ridden, ever-so-slow-and-stumbly me.

Let me love you.

Let me love me, too.

1 comment:

  1. Awwww.....

    and you are so durn lovable!!!

    (yes, REALLY!)