In this chapter, you will look closely at the ways in which God’s image has been warped by his people. You will be asked hard questions that will turn light bulbs on in your heart and mind. As you work through this chapter, it is our prayer that God’s love might begin to feel more like a place for you, and less like an emotion. More like identity.
We pray it is also becoming clear that much of this heart work is about volition: choosing to be honest, choosing to feel, choosing relationship, choosing to risk, choosing to act, and choosing to trust again. I know that wholehearted love often feels scary, but take a step forward anyways. “‘You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth, and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory. For your Maker is your bridegroom, His name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! Your Redeemer is the Holy of Israel, known as God of the whole earth. You were abandoned like a wife, devastated with grief, and God welcomed you back, like a woman married young and then left,’ says your God. ‘It’s with lasting love that I’m tenderly caring for you’” (Isaiah 54:4-6,8, The Message).
Welcome home. You belong here,
God’s love for us is everlasting. It is an eternal love in which we are embraced. Living a spiritual life calls us to claim that eternal love for ourselves so that we can live our temporal loves – for parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, friends, spouses, and all people who become part of our lives – as reflections or refractions of God’s eternal love. No fathers or mothers can love their children perfectly. No husbands or wives can love each other with unlimited love. There is no human love that is not broken somewhere.
When our broken love is the only love we can have, we are easily thrown into despair, but when we can live our broken love as a partial reflection of God’s perfect, unconditional love, we can forgive one another our limitations and enjoy together the love we have to offer.