how he loves us

When all of the sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory
And I realized just how beautiful You are
And how great your affections are for me.
(Jesus Culture – How He Loves Us)

For weeks until last week, I have been feeling a bit off in some incomprehensible way. I couldn’t really point out what it really was but it made me feel a couple of things – some intangible, some concrete.

One of the concrete things it made me feel is loneliness.

I feel as if I have no friends.

(Well, aside from a couple of people who I rarely see or spend time with.)

At work, I feel so alone.

From having a solid group of friends, it seems now that I have none.

Whenever I approach people, I feel as if they just talk to me out of politeness. They entertain me but don’t totally let me in. I’m never involved in their lives. I’m never a part of it.

Reaching out has made me feel a bit tired.

I say they only remember me when there’s something they want to make happen – a baby shower for someone (though I did want a baby shower for someone), a farewell surprise for another, a congratulatory celebration for people who’ll be taking their board exams, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing these things for themI just hope that I could be more than someone who can make these things happen.

When I’m not there, no one will really – like really – miss me.

No one needs me for me.

Everyone just seems to need me for what I can do.

Then last Wednesday, a friend of mine asked me if I have something to do after work. I said I’m free and teased her about missing me. She said, “Yes.”

I wasn’t totally excited but I was happy.

I looked forward to it.

After work, we walked around outside our building to find a place to eat a very late dinner. We found one and talked. She told me about some stuff that she’s finding it hard to share to other people. I gave her my own views, explained some of her whys, and shared some of my own stuff.

It was just a couple of hours but I was filled with so much joy.

The next morning, I told a very close friend of mine about it.

I said that invitation for the late dinner meant so much to me, because at that moment I was someone else’s friend.

I was missed because we weren’t spending that much time with each other. I make someone else’s day happy and complete. I was important because I’m the only one who she could share some things with at that particular time.

I was a friend who, at that time, didn’t have to be the one who reached out but a friend who was reached out to.

That friend I shared these feelings with told me that it was God’s gift to me. I didn’t see it that way and I was thankful that she was able to make me look at it like that. So, I prayed to God and thanked Him for it.

As I was thanking Him, I realized something.

Does God feel lonely too…
When He reaches out to people only to be just being entertained for a little while?
When He realizes He’s still not a part of that person’s life after talking to him or her?
When He is simply someone people need when they want to make something happen?
When He feels no one misses Him even for a little when they don’t spend time with Him?

On the other hand…

When we invite Him for a very late dinner, 
When we reach out to Him and shared our problems and thoughts to Him, 
When we need Him for who He is instead of what He can do,
When we treat Him like a friend,
Does He feel overwhelmed with so much joy too as if His heart would burst?

While asking Him these questions, I was crying.

When I shared these thoughts to my friend, my eyes were glazed with tears.

I have known since who-knows-when that God loves us so much – greatly and unconditionally.

He sacrificed His son to save us from our sins. He forgives us repeatedly despite our stubbornness. He reaches out to us continuously and tirelessly even though we reject Him over and over again.

However, that day, it’s as if it’s the first time all over again of learning about the kind of love He has for us.

These thoughts still overwhelm me until now. Even last Sunday, while the worship team was singing “How He Loves Us” for the communion, I remember these once again and I couldn’t help but cry.

I pray that people will welcome Him and involve Him in their lives because having Him brings so much happiness, joy, and peace.

I pray that people will see God more than just their provided and problem-solver. I pray that people will see God as their best friend.

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what love to me is

November of last year, I sat in a public speaking club and listened to a speech entitled “If You Asked Me About Love…” It was heartwarming, romantic and tear jerking (but in a good way). The line that struck me most was “Love is holding someone gently yet protectively.”

I shared the speech to my friend and she asked me, “How about you? What would you say if you were asked about love?” I didn’t give her an answer. At that time, love was a fantasy to me. After my first heartbreak, I came to believe that love doesn’t go well with someone like me. I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t understand it.

Before hearing that speech, my friend and I were having a huge misunderstanding. There was too much push and pull. She wanted me to do something but I kept on refusing. She said that she was insisting on it because she loves me. At that time, I thought, “Her love is too demanding.” However, I came across a quote by the late Pope John Paul II – the first explanation about love I encountered on my goal in answering her question. He said, “Real love is demanding…Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.” That’s when I became appeased to the love she had for me.

I haven’t shared her this yet. I was only planning to do so once I gathered enough understanding of this whole thing about L.O.V.E.

The next explanation about love that made impact to me was from the book of 1 Corinthians. Now, this isn’t the usual line about love being patient and kind, which can be found at the beginning of the 13th chapter. The line that hit me hard in my pursuit of understanding love was written in 1 Corinthians 13:7, which says, “It (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I was in elementary when I first read about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and I always thought that these definitions of love are too shallow. Too simple. I was hoping for a more flowery explanation about what love is that’s usually found in most novels. However, upon reflecting on it and relating it on the most intense love I knew which was from my friend, I knew that love being protective, trusting, hopeful and persevering is what love really is. It was close to my favorite line in the speech I heard.

Finally, the last explanation about love that made everything click was by C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.”

Love is not for the cold-hearted. You can’t love if you don’t want to feel it. Unfortunately, feeling it requires you to soften your heart and subjecting it to be hurt. If you love something or someone, you can always be hurt by the thing or person you love.

“Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Love it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”

I’ve put up tall and thick walls around me that hardened me and kept love away from me at all cost. I obsessed myself with Korean pop and made my world revolve around it. The only concept of love I only allowed myself to practice was my love for Korean idols. I kept my relationships shallow and casual, because I knew that having deeper connection to people will bring complications.

“But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

There was a time when my friend found it hard to come near to me. She said I had these walls around me that she couldn’t get past through. I felt bad and decided to let her in, thinking that I could still manage to be cold even with her. I could be open towards her while closed off towards others. How wrong I was. Letting her in and lowering my guard for her caused me too much emotional whiplash. Opening myself up to her means letting others see the real me too. Once you choose to be vulnerable to one person, you become vulnerable to everyone.

I kept my eyes open to every definition and explanation of love that is out there. There’s a lot of them. Someone said love’s mysteriousness and complexity are the reason why people obsess themselves with it. However, despite encountering more opinions about love, the three above are the ones that really hit me.