Striving for Love
Do you strive to ensure you are loved and valued – by God and/or by those around you? How long have you worked hard to be a good person, to be able to feel valued?
Do you work and strive and keep all the rules and all the other stuff people do to try to convince God, and those around you, that you are valuable, loved, worthy? It’s such hard work. It’s continual work. It never stops. It never does. Because you are probably not actually trying to convince God that you’re lovable (God already knows that, the Spirit may well have been shouting it at you for years); you may be trying to convince others, but if they know you well, they know you and already love you – or not, or sometimes. That’s a different subject. But it is very probable that the person you are actually trying to convince is yourself. That you are worthy and lovable. But if you do that by working and striving, the problem is you tend to have to continue doing that to continue to prove you are worthy. It is very hard work.
Yet God’s yolk is easy; God already knows and loves you through and through; whether you are worthy of that love is irrelevant. None of us are actually worthy of that love. The good news is – we don’t have to be. That love is there anyway. We are striving, working for something we already have, if only we could accept it.
Maybe that is the nub of the problem: acceptance. Accepting that all our hard work, all our striving, all our rule-keeping won’t gain us love. It just gains us work and stress. Can we accept the fact that God’s love is there for us; that we only have to accept and respond to it; that how hard we work – or don’t – is a response to God’s love of us, not a means of gaining it.
That we cannot come to God as the Pharisee did in the parable saying ‘look how much I do for you’; look how much I prove my holiness, my worth. Look how hard I work for You, how much I pray, look how long I spend at church … whatever this is that we say to try and control and manipulate God. We are probably not saying it so obviously; we may not even realise we are saying it. We can only come to our Lord as the tax collector did: Lord, have mercy on me; I have mucked up, I am not worthy of you; I made a mistake yesterday; I have followed You for [xx] number of years and am only now realising I’ve missed the entire point.
As I do regularly; I’ve been a Christian all my life, why is it only now after several decades that I am realising that I don’t have to make myself worthy of God? That in fact I can’t? Why am I only now realising that is what I have been doing? To realise that I need to be reminded of this at least daily. To see that I can NOT do this myself, that I have to let go and let God do this in me, that, in actual fact, I need our Lord to let go for me. Of course, I knew this on one level, but it’s a message that continually needs deepening.
It is hard to continue striving to be worthy; in many ways it is even harder to stop striving; to let God in, let our Lord love you – for that love may show us aspects of ourselves that we are not comfortable with, letting go means letting go of pride, and that can be humiliating.
But to let go, let go and let God love you as you are; to let go and let God love in you; to let go and even let God love God within you. Cease to strive, cease trying to convince God you’re worthy. It’s not about whether you’re worthy or not. It’s about God, about coming to God, insecure in the love God has for you, but willing to let that love in. That may be a lifelong struggle but I think – I hope – it is not as tiring, although it may (in different ways) still be as hard. For to find the narrow way, the easy yolk requires humility, acceptance, letting go. However difficult, it is a way that is not stifling, but is LIVING, loving – a journey deeper and deeper in to our Trinity, a journey that can only start by letting go, but a journey into life.