I realized recently (and spoke about it a little) that my views and expectations of what love is and what it looks like have become a bit warped. Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder for which there is no cure, only symptom management, had a huge impact on how I thought and felt about myself. Interpersonal disappointments taught me not to rely on others to be there for me, to support me.
Gradually, I lost sight of what real love is, what it looks like. I even lost sight of God's love for me, and what that looks like. I spoke with Him, heard from Him, but had lost sight of the nature of His love.
On Good Friday, my church hosted an event called 'The Way of the Cross'. In the sanctuary there was a wooden cross, laid on a platform, and we were asked to pick up a word written on a card that described an attitude that we wanted to let go of. We were then to take a nail, and nail the card to the cross.
I chose the card 'Unbelief'. The word 'unbelief' perfectly describes my struggle to understand the love of God, to believe that His love is mine for the taking, that He wants ME and loves ME. I nailed the card to the cross and moved to the next station, shaking with the emotion evoked by taking a hammer and piercing the wood of that cross, literally laying my sin down at the cross. The next station invited us to do any number of a variety of worship activities, including just sitting and beings still, listening for God's voice.
On the screen nearby, there was a projector showing a series images of Jesus on the cross. As I watched the images change, I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that THIS is love. God gave His ONLY son, sacrificed His most beloved child, for ME. Not just us as a whole, the world, humanity, but as individuals. He did it for ME. He did it for YOU. He loved me, He loved you, all those long years ago. He knew me, knew you, even then. He knew that I, knew that you, would be separated from Him without the blood of Christ, and He wanted that to change. Christ loved me, loved you enough to give up His own life, enough to take the weight of our sin on His shoulders and pay the ultimate price. THIS IS HOW GOD LOVES ME, THIS IS HOW HE LOVES YOU.
Overwhelmingly. Sacrificially. Totally.
This is what love is.
1 John 3: 1, 16
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are...By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us