If you don’t remember much about the words I write or the things I say, I hope you remember this: when I say God delights in you, it’s not a platitude. It’s born from a road of first believing He didn’t really give much of a damn at all.
For years, I saw God as curmudgeonly Creator who did His impressively good work and then found Himself disgusted by it all. Especially what was to be His pride and joy—you and me. I know differently now, not because of a book or a podcast or powerful preacher. God Himself took the time to talk to me. Gathering all the words about God is for another day…soon.
Today, my prayer is that you’ll see the passionate pursuit of His wrapped-in-humanity Love. It seems only fitting that this would be a love letter—one I wrote to myself years ago.
It was International Girls Day, and writer friends were celebrating by writing letters to their younger selves, cheering for innocents with big imaginations and bigger dreams. I tried to write that day, well-manicured hands resting on the keyboard, longing to find something to say that would sound like the growing chorus.
But there was silence. Because the little girl I knew looked so unlike the images and captions. I celebrated her but wondered if anyone else would see her as worthy of applause. It would take time for the words to come, for the proclamation of all that the young girl held within her. Few people saw the love letter that was written. Until today.
Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:14
I didn’t know what to tell you then. But today I do, little love. Today I do.
Did you see that? I called you love. Because you are. Yes, you with the wonky smile and the thigh gap that’s not from skinny legs but from hips your mom called “good for breeding” because they were wide. You with the still occasional lisp because of the days you sucked your finger and rubbed silk between your fingers for comfort. You are love. And you are loved.
I know love was a foreign word when you were little. Your first lasting memories of home were of the fighting, the screaming, the words carelessly flung like daggers—the stench of stale alcohol and the marks from cigarettes left to burn near the man collapsed in a heap in the recliner.
You were told to trust the family member who stripped you of childhood. There were threats to not say a word to anyone about what went on, because there was a reputation to uphold and a family name to protect. And there were always threats about the consequences of leaving.
Even when you escaped the noise to play with your Barbie dolls, you would make sure there was the one who was two people—a loving, kind soul by day and a vile, drunken fool at night.
You wanted things to be right. You heard the same thing over and over again. “I’d be gone in a heartbeat if I could. I’m staying in this marriage for you…”
You wanted the pain to go away, and those words told you who the pain was.
No 4-year old should ever want to die.
No 5-year old should ever believe abuse is normal.
But even then, love was pursuing you. It invited you into the quiet quilt-covered sweetness of a World War 2 row house in a different part of town, where you would stay for days if you could. You craved the comfort you found sitting on a step stool in the tiny galley kitchen as your Aunt Prudence made vanilla cream pie and sweet tea, and you just knew the Jesus she adored was going to stop by for a visit because she spoke of Him with such tender familiarity that her Jesus had to be real. You would sit on the sun porch and listen to the budgies and finches sing, run in the backyard and wish you could reach the sunflowers that towered over the picket fence.
Yes, little love. Even then, divine Love was protecting you. Saving you.
Love sang to you then. Remember? “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…”
I sing that song now to my grandkids. I sang it to my son. All because Love first sang that song to you.
Oh little love, there’s still so much of you alive in me now. The little girl with a wanderlust heart who dreamt about other lands and created storylines with Chatty Kathy and troll dolls. The little girl who wished she could fall inside the Candy Land game and fall up into the sky to dance on clouds. The little girl who was relentless with “why” because there was always something more to everything. The little girl who just knew Jesus might come and visit if you fixed something sweet to eat and offered a place on the sofa.
The little girl who wanted things to be right. The little girl who wanted the pain to go away.
Jesus did come to visit. And He came to stay. Yes. Love came to stay.
And that Love didn’t require anything of you. He simply held out His hand.
Yes, little love. I carry your scars too. But we’re learning to be beautiful because we’re learning what beauty is. We’re learning to breathe and embrace. We are learning more and more to love every scar, to let them show as a reminder that we are more than the wounds that caused them. Wrapped-in-humanity Love shows us His scars and makes us brave to reveal their redemption. We take Love’s hand and learn to walk with feet that are maybe too big and often a little clumsy. He never threatens. He never grows weary of each “why.” He’s always ready for the sofa and the pie and the conversation. And He says the sky is a perfect place to play.
Little by little, we are ruins made whole.
Love saved you. Love saved us. And Love is still saving.
Love will keep saving.
You are precious, little Love. We are precious. Let’s not ever forget that.
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” ~Frederick Buechner
You might be wondering how a love letter about Jesus fits in with a year of studying the word, “gather.” Right now, I’m focusing on its definition of “understanding.” This is part of a three-part series on what I have come to understand about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God. Jesus is Love embodied, a Love Who passionately pursues and saves to the uttermost.
That understanding stems from a personal relationship that is weathered and war-torn and yet still keeps me warm. I’m here to pray with and over and for you and to be a listening ear, no matter where you are on that road of relationship.