The opposite of love isn't hate. It's fear.
I've been living in a Providential hug that feels like a vise. Granted, I asked God to wreck me, heal me, and stretch me. I gave Him full access to me - so I should have expected He'd go right to work! I don't think there is one aspect of my life He has left alone. Not my marriage. Not my parenting. Not my finances. Not my physical health. Nada. Just when I think I'm adjusting to the pressure, the screws get turned just a little tighter. I'm grateful that He won't let go though, because I feel like I'm just moments away from freedom and I really want to get there this time!
I'm being restored from a fear that I need to be perfect to be acceptable. Not perfect in my work, or how clean my home is, or even just how perfect I can be as a mom or wife. No, I'm being set free from an addiction to perfect relationships. Have you ever thought you and God worked through a particular issue and you waved goodbye to it in the rearview mirror, never to be seen again? And then, shocker, you discover most of life's issues aren't linear, but are more like the luggage carousel at the airport...here's my bag...there goes my bag...here's my bag again. I clued into that a few years ago. Now I'm just grateful when I recognize the issue, remember the good work God has done, and thank Him for the work He will continue doing in me.
Beth Moore writes, "Do we believe that the only way to do something acceptably is to do it perfectly? Sometimes God is more aware than we of just how much He requires of us...I'm not suggesting we shouldn't do our best. I'm simply saying that sometimes just surviving certain tasks without falling apart is our best and in those times God is not ashamed of our performance. He's proud of us for fighting overwhelming human emotions to do His will." (Esther study)
What I know about relating to God begins with what I have learned in relationship with people. I learned love is conditional with people. And recently I've discovered I have been trying to be perfect for God. In many ways I have applied my same habits to Him. Part of me feared that moments of silence from God were from something I had done wrong. Some lack of discipline. Something I had not understood about Him. Fear of failing God.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18
That Providential hug - I'm grateful for it because it's driving out fear. I could say, "There is no fear in God. But God drives out fear..." Perfect love trusts. I'm learning that I can trust God deeply in His love for me, in the light areas of my life and the dark ones, my successes and my failures. And this trust is freeing me to love perfectly. To live in messy relationships with imperfect people who mistake fear for hate. People who receive love and people who reject it. People who choose if you're with them or you're not. People who live at opposite poles. I'm learning to live free of the addiction to perfect relationships. And now I won't need to choose sides. For if God loves me with perfect love, He loves us all that way.
"Because of the tender mercy of my God by which the rising sun will come to me from heaven - to shine on my darkness and in what feels like the shadow of death to me - I will find peace." Luke 1:78-79
Being made perfect in love, Favored One!