Is This What Love Is?
(I wrote this quickly while trying to retain the details that were fresh in my memory. I feel like there's something here, and I wanted to get it down so I would never forget this moment. I also wanted to share it with someone, but because of the sensitive and personal nature, as well as the fact that my girlfriend would freak out if she ever saw it, given that she doesn't believe in God, I've decided to keep it amongst a small group of friends. I wonder if this couldn't be placed somewhere else, if there's any truth in it, and given a lot of revisions, under an anonymous signature. Or perhaps it's just a leg in my journey that I want to share with those closest to me, and later I can share it with Kecia in the hopes that she might better understand God.)
I learned a lot about God tonight while working through an issue with my girlfriend.
Recently we decided that we weren't going to have sex. This is a big deal for us because, though I have a belief in God, she does not. This wasn't something we were doing in any spiritual sense, and though I know what God's view is on the matter, it would do no good to bring Him into the picture when it's not a factor to her. The way I eventually convinced her was the truth about sex during this current phase in our relationship: It brings us closer together, but without the commitment, and because of my past, it also brings a lot of fears. It wasn't that we were doing anything bad, it's that we were creating a bond that could be too easily broken. We were becoming one, but we were still separated on other levels, and this created more problems than were necessary.
She understood, and though it was hard for her, she decided to stop in order to help me with my fears, and so that we could truly get to know one another.
However, that doesn't mean that we wouldn't struggle.
Tonight we hit a stumbling block. Clothes stayed on but we got to a point that we really wanted each other, physically, to become one and to share the moment, before we finally stopped. This is when it happened.
This is when her fears took over.
She got so scared she wept. She was scared of the future. Scared that she would fail again. Scared of this “impossible” task she placed before her. Scared of ruining everything. She believed that this was all her fault. She told me that if she hadn't had sex with me before then I wouldn't be so fearful, thinking that she might leave me at any moment. She thought that it was inevitable that she'd fail again because she knows what she's missing, and it's so hard to control those feelings. “I don't know how to do this,” she tells me, and it made her so afraid.
Now where have I heard some of these things before...
Oh that's right.
This is how we deal with sin.
This is how we believe in God.
Don't believe me?
First I assured her that this was, in no way, her fault. This was mostly because I'm in this relationship as well, and anything we do – we do together. So this put at least half of the responsibility on me as well. The other factor being that my fears are my fears. It's my problem. It's not her fault that I keep giving into them. The reason we decided to not have sex was to help me overcome these fears, step-by-step, but that's not the only reason we stopped, and it doesn't mean it's her fault they were there in the first place.
But she didn't want to believe me. She was convinced that she could have tried harder. She wanted to believe that it was her fault. That she was ruining everything. This relationship.
And that's when I realized the power of forgiveness.
I had to release her of this burden. I had to free her from her past mistakes. I told her that it doesn't matter anymore. I forgave her. I made sure to emphasize that I don't hold any of that against her. The past is in the past. This is a new moment. This is where we start over. I said, “I don't condemn you for this. I'll accept you no matter what.”
Then I addressed her fears. I acknowledged that this wasn't going to be easy, and that it definitely isn't for me, and that it was never supposed to be. I told her that I'm not asking her to be perfect. I know she's going to stumble, that WE are going to struggle, and that failure doesn't mean we've failed. It just means we have to try again, and this time we'll know how to get past the parts where we fell. I told her that there was no problem with wanting this – WANTING me. That we are human. We have these urges, these emotions, built within us for a purpose. It's just not what we need right now. We have to want something more. I told her that she can't ruin anything as long as she's trying.
“Just try it my way...and we'll see if it's better.”
Now...I know I've heard that one before.
God had been reaching out to me, just like this, all along. This was the Love He has been trying to show me. This is what He's been wanting to say.
You see, when we encounter God in the midst of our sin there's a very similar scenario. Here we have God telling us to live our lives differently. To try it HIS way. To give up our life of sin and follow his path. This is where the struggle begins. It's hard to let go of Sin. It's hard to stop living in our old ways, the way that we've grown so accustomed to, and the path that is so easy. Yet when we decide to try it his way, and we run into difficulties, and we stumble and fall multiple times, we find ourselves ready to give up. We don't want to go on. We become afraid. We tell ourselves that God doesn't love us, that he could never love us, accept us, or forgive us for what we've done. We are failures.
But that's NOT who God is.
He's not wanting us to be perfect. He's not trying to create human beings who do exactly what He says...or else. He's just trying to be in a relationship with us. He's just fighting to have a true connection.
Just like I am trying to have a relationship with my girlfriend. One that starts with the heart. One that begins with our main need, the desire of being fully known, that represents a truth.
Is this what it means when we sing, “He is jealous for me”? Does God love me so much that he is afraid of losing me? Is God as passionate about a relationship with me as I am with my girlfriend?
Cause here I am, in the midst of a struggle to get my girlfriend to NOT give up. To just try.That I'm not asking her to be perfect, by any means, but to just to try, despite her fears, and to do it in a way that would be more beneficial to us than she might ever know. And here she is, trying to convince herself that it's impossible, and that everything is her fault, and that she'll just screw it all up again. She wallows in her guilt.
Just like we wallow in our sin. And God has to make a choice. When we don't want to try. When we want to give up. Go back to the old way of living. God can decide to let us go. It's not that He wants to. It's not that He's deciding to leave us, or to break it off. It's that He wants us to be happy – at least – what WE think would make us happy.
But then she tells me that she wants to be with me. That she's not giving up. That she's just afraid that I would leave her if she screws up again, or if she fails us another time. I tell her that's not the case. That it would NEVER be the case. I would never leave her if she stumbled, because I know that she's trying...
“And trying makes all the difference,” I say, “because at least you're doing something.”
God would never leave us either. He doesn't want that. He only asks us to try. Because he knows that it will bring us closer together moment-to-moment.
“I would let you go...” I tell her, “If it would make it easier for you; because I don't want you to be miserable with me - “
“No.” She says. “Because doing the right thing is never easy...”
“and besides” she continues, “I'm not miserable with you...”