I grew up in a believing home with two loving parents. I accepted the Lord when I was 3 and a half. Growing up I knew that God loved me, and I was very secure in who I was. My parents were a terrific help with that.
My basic definition of God’s love went like this “Since God loves me, that means He will protect me and provide for me.” In my early twenties I had a bad knee injury that started a sub-conscious downward spiral. If God loved me, then why did He let me get hurt?
Somewhere around this time, internally, I started “doing.” By “doing” I mean that I started hoarding spiritual acts, as my means of payment for my relationship with God. Fasting, praying, helping others, many of these things became the means by which I secured God’s love for me. So my internal view of God became split between a God who loved me, and a harsh God who demanded things of me.
All of this came to a head after a year of intense ministry training. I collapsed emotionally. For a year I was very depressed, and was fighting to hold on to the truth that God still cared about me. My thoughts and feelings said otherwise. I viewed myself as unlovable, and worthless. My identity was wrapped up in what I could do FOR God. Deep inside I knew that was a lie, but I did not have the strength of heart to fight.
In January of 2009, I got a hold of David Harwood’s material. My dad had the Love of God Manual in his office. I took a chance, started listening to the CD’s and s.l.o.w.l.y going through the workbook. I would have small breakthroughs as I read/listened to the truth. It was like a starving man slowly eating again. It hurt a lot.
Then one day I was sitting during service. It was a normal day, northing out of the ordinary, and God changed my life. He reached down, and started emotionally pouring into my heart. At first I was like “no, no, it’s ok.” because I felt unlovely, I didn’t want God to minister to me like that. It’s humiliating to have someone see you cry. Yet God did not give up, and so I said “OK, fine you can have me.” And so for 20 minutes, I experienced God’s emotional, intentional, wonderful love. And I was healed! Before this time, my emotional tank was shattered, but this event restored my ability to hold onto God’s love! And it taught me that God’s love is not only protective, but it is EXPERIENTIAL! I experienced God loving me! Not just talking about it, not just saying that God loves everyone. But I knew from that experience what God meant when He said “I love you.”
My prayer for everyone reading this, especially those who grew up in believing households, that God would pour his heart into yours, and give you an ability to hold on to what His love is like. In Yeshua’s name.