Life bumps along in seasons. Some we embrace enthusiastically, watching with a hint of sadness as they slip away. Others prove hard, and we applaud their exit. The last five years have been a warm summer season full of graduations, weddings, a growing family, open doors, and new adventures. But living on the Gulf Coast, summer fun and frivolity can be interrupted by hurricanes—violent storms which push ashore, leaving a path of scarred landscape that, sometimes, takes years to heal. Well, my summer season has included a few hurricanes, big ones like Katrina, Ivan, and Frederick. Lately, I have been taking time to care for some of my hurricane-damaged landscape. (Speaking metaphorically of my heart, of course.)
Two weeks ago, as part of the “recovery” process, I embarked on a little year-long, two-step experiment. Every morning, after I brush my teeth, I place my hand over my heart, close my eyes, and remind myself aloud, “God loves me.” (Step 1 is actually easy for me. Not because of me, but because of what I believe about the character of God. But surveying the storm-battered landscape, Step 2 is a bit more difficult.) I open my eyes, look into the mirror and tell myself, “I love you.”
For days, I had been looking into the mirror—very seriously, very intentionally, like I am trying to be sure I arrive at the correct answer—and saying to my reflection, “I love you.” Well, when I said it yesterday, I heard the still small voice of God jovially respond to my very deliberate, I love you. “Monica, say it with delight. I do!”
From the beginning (yes, all the way back into the Old Testament), the command has been simple: love God, love others. But there is no “loving others” until we BELIEVE and RECEIVE the love of God for ourselves. In other words, until we can look at our reflection, believing what God has said about us, and say, “I love you.”
Have you had a few hurricanes blow through, leaving the landscape of your heart battered? Do you need to step back and care for your storm-weary soul? Go ahead. Close your eyes. Place your hand over your heart. Say to yourself, “God loves me.” Now, open your eyes. Look at your…one-of-a-kind, made-in-the-image-of-the-God-who loves-you…self, and say “I love you.” And when you say it, be sure to say it with delight, because God does!