Authentic Love: Part 3

God spoke through Jeremiah reprimanding a trouble-making Judah saying, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

The great thing about God and His Word is they are always relevant and the Holy Spirit is always speaking, especially to those who listen closely.

This quarter, my last quarter of my first year in college, has been interesting and confusing and rewarding to say the least. I’m still horrible at time management, I still watch too much Netflix and eat too many hot cheetos. But my relationship with God has grown in ways I didn’t know it could and I’ve become more myself, more comfortable in who God created me to be and how I convey that image, than I was a year ago.

When people say college is awesome and it changes you, I hate to say the cliche is true.

I asked God a hard question at the beginning of this quarter, and now that I’ve reached the half-way point, it feels like God gave me the answer and is now asking me to practice it. To explore it, figure it out, live it wholeheartedly. I condensed my question into: God, take this fear, focus my heart on You, and please, please send me genuine friends. Only now do I see the weight of that prayer, not really a question, and realize how incredibly big the answer was, especially since God seems to still be speaking, even when I think, “okay, this must be it, the end of the answer; there can’t be more to learn.”

After writing “Authentic Love: Part 1” and “Authentic love: Part 2,” God began speaking to me very clearly, through those around me during times of worship. I think that says a lot about God. He loves to love us, especially when we are loving Him.

The answers began with “God is so big, and He wants to answer our prayers.” Got it, thanks God. I’ll just go ahead and start praying then. First step done.

But then God threw me a curve ball, which I see as such now, because God can’t be pinned down to a science. He told me about Jonah and showed me why Jonah jumped: blind faith. He told me to trust Him before I realized I had such a big issue with trust. I took that nugget of wisdom and tucked it away, thinking “yeah, duh, trust.” If I was God having to deal with me, I would have been frustrated. Humanity is in constant need of a reminder of God’s love, no matter how many times we witness it. I suppose that’s the trouble with serving a God so much bigger than us and the hope we have in Jesus to come before the throne because His righteousness covers our sin and our forgetfulness.

After Jonah, I started to sit in waiting; waiting for God to reveal the next missing piece of the puzzle even though none of the pieces were missing at all, I just hadn’t put it all together yet. I went  to the life group that I am now attending regularly for the first time. God spoke seven different times through different people.

Here’s what He said, in order:

1. Keep your shoes on, we are about to leave.

2. Stay on the path, on the yellow brick road I have placed you.

3. I will take care of you. I have given you gifts of beauty and passion, use them. I am in control.

4. You can’t see in front of you, and that is the point. Trust and rely on Me completely.

5. I am calling you farther and farther, keep going. Don’t stop.

6. I loved you at your darkest. I am light.

7. Do not fear the decisions you will have to make. My house is forever.

These seven answers from God revealed in me my problem with trust and how it has dictated my relationship with Him. Many people have hurt me, given up on me, disregarded me when I didn’t follow their rules, and I have a very hard time opening up to people, yet I still crave that openness.

I’ve created an image to explain this:

I and those with whom I want to be vulnerable and create lasting friendships are standing in a large circle. We all have large, thick stone walls in front of us, up to our chins, shielding us from one another. A few people are trying to gently break my wall down, but before they get very far, I somehow push them away and tell them “No!” Yet, in the same breath, I am shouting at every single person in the circle, “Take your wall down! Be vulnerable! I want to know you, I want to discover who you really are, and I desperately want to hear your story!” Most ignore me, but few look excited. They say, “Okay, but you have to take your wall down too! We want to know about you too! We want to hear your story and discover who you really are too!” This immediately frustrates me and I shout “No!” again and again while still begging them to take down their walls. All the while, I build mine a little higher, a little thicker. I’m angry with others for not being vulnerable with me, while being vulnerable myself is out of the question.

The wall, which is still intact I must admit, hasn’t allowed me to create lasting friendships. My problem with authentic love begins with me. And I don’t believe only the fear of rejection or no reciprocation is what holds me back, it is my belief that perhaps I’m only supposed to have a few good friends.

My dad, if you haven’t met him, is the most powerful man I know. I truly believe he has God’s favor over his life, and because of his constant obedience to God’s will, no matter how many people talk crap about him because they don’t understand that favor, God honors my dad’s requests. I say my dad is powerful because anytime he’s said something in the past or declared something in the name of Jesus, it has come true or happened and he’s been blessed. Yes, he makes mistakes, but he has never doubted the power of God and walks in that authority. But what comes with hearing the voice of God is sometimes loneliness.

My dad can count on one hand the people who would drop everything to help him out if he needed it. One hand. I’ve asked him who specifically before and he could only get up to two or three not including family. And if I think about it too much, I can do that as well. Only one hand full of people who know the real me and would be willing to drop everything to help me out. And this need for companionship has been stopped cold by the realization that maybe I’m only supposed to have five or so people to love deeply and authentically. I took a personality test online and it told me that I love so passionately and deeply at a time, that my heart can only handle a small amount of people to love. I am a very intense person and that’s why I shove people away: 1. I can’t trust they’d love me back just as much and 2. I am very easily emotionally drained and I can’t handle juggling more than two or three people’s personal problems. The more people open up to me and I to them, the more time I need time alone. I push people away for days at a time and hide myself so I can “recharge.” I watch Psych and Olan Rogers until I’m laughing instead of crying. And then I sass my way past the pain. If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

I suppose that comes back to my problem with trust in God. I want to help people. I can’t count how many times someone has called me to tell me about a problem or needed prayer and as they spoke, I ended up crying silently on the other side of the phone, blaming my sniffling for a cold. I take in the problems, give some advice, hang up, and cry out to God. But I never seem to give Him the problem. I hold onto it and the weight gets heavier and I wonder why I’m not moving, why things aren’t getting better, why I’m so angry at the world and at those who cause suffering instead of loving them.

So God reminded me to trust Him, in so many different ways. He reminded me of His plan for my life. He reminded me of the heart He’s given me and that it’s important to feel and to feel deeply. He reminded me that I am trying to do it alone, that I haven’t given Him my fears, and I have forgotten that action must follow a declaration of trust.

And, once again, He spoke into my life last night. I met a girl named Gretchen at a Cinco de Mayo party. She was really sweet and I creepily already knew about her because Lauren talks about her a lot. We introduced ourselves and didn’t really talk for the rest of the night.

I had been dealing with the thought of only being meant to love a few people at a time. I thought maybe I’m only built for loving deeply, never widely. And though I didn’t want to be, I was in the process of accepting that.

Tim Keller tweeted today, “The sin that is killing you the most right now is the one you are most defensive about or just completely unaware of.”

My sin was limiting myself and my capacity to love as I tried to love like a limitless God.

The Cinco de Mayo party ended in worship and prayer, the way all things should end if I were made president of the world (Vote Kayley Forshey for Prez!). I was worshiping, relishing in God’s love, when Gretchen came up to me. She said that she felt God tell her to tell me something and then pray for me. I couldn’t help but smile as I listened.

She said:

God has given you a big heart, and He is going to make it even bigger. He is going to expand your capacity to love and to be loved. Right now, it may seem like you can only love five people at a time. But God is going to make that number grow, to 15, and then 50, and then thousands of people. And you will be able to love them deeply and with God’s love. He is going to expand your heart, but it will never feel burdened. You will never feel weighed down, because God is going to carry any weight. He will walk with you as you love and hold the burden that can come with love. People will be drawn to you supernaturally and they will open themselves up to you because you will love with God’s love.

Gretchen prayed that over me and I cried. It’s hilarious that I’ve been crying so much, because I would like to call myself Kayley-No-Cry-Ever. I’m like my dad in this respect, no emotions, no weakness, only laughter and power. But God keeps rattling my heart and I can’t help but cry whenever the God of Everything, seen or unseen, decides to speak to me. Me and my insignificance and my wandering heart, and He pulls me back before I even realize I had strayed.

My prayer for authentic love, receiving and giving it, was answered with trust. I have to trust that those God places in my path are worth trusting and getting to know, and allowing inside my heart. My wall is still high and my level of trust is low, but I’m learning that everyone is broken and in need of healing love. A beautiful friend of mine, Hannah Nicole Martin, wrote this and it explains a profound truth that comes with loving well:

I think part of loving people well is bound up in this action, that we love them as they grow and expand, and do not grieve when they move on or change or become a different expression or manifestation or revelation of themselves. Revelation, because we are privileged to know and stay and care in new ways. Privileged, because it requires intention, open palms, courage. I’m learning this with my family especially as I am apart from them, and in immediacy, with friends this last year, who have shuffled and shifted in and out of my life. I am just beginning to understand, and by understand I mean put a hand to the full texture, of how deeply all relationships are gifts, to cherish, steward, and care for well – not demand, not necessitate, not expect (as if expectation was always incorrect – how many layers to everything!)

Though we all need Christ, we also need each other and the willingness to be vulnerable and trusting with one another. If we all had our walls up, high and threatening, love would never reach it’s full capacity. We would miss out on the stories, the hope, the wonder in one another. And we would all be so very lonely. I think, like my dad, I am in a season of only a few people being vulnerable with me and I with them. But God wants us to love unabashedly, unashamedly, and without reserve. I’m still learning what that looks like completely, but I’m trusting God.

He will expand my capacity to love deeply and widely.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,

And to present you faultless

Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

To God our Savior,

Who alone is wise,

Be glory and majesty,

Dominion and power,

Both now and forever.

Amen.

-Jude 1:24-25

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