Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How great the Father's love for us...

I really love my husband. We crashed into bed exhausted last night from an awesome bike ride and spending time with friends. We chatted until nearly midnight with Matt and Lane. It was so awesome to hear their heart about family, life, and love. I am thankful that my husband has such wonderful godly friends to grow in Christ with. Not to mention, I think they are pretty awesome too. :D

But the point of the post is to say how grateful I am for my husband. After listening to Matt and Lane talk about some hardships they have gone through, I realized that these last few years have been a time of great healing for me.

It's hard to explain a lot of the things that have happened in my life, or maybe it is just a really long story, but needless to say I've been sorely wounded by a few people in my life and I walked away with scars and pain that shaped part of who I became. I was so bitter for a long time. I thought the bitterness was justified... I kept it to myself mostly and didn't share my feelings and yet they shaped my attitudes about so many things - church, men, fathers, authority figures, women, marriage, God. Almost everything in my life was tinted through the eyes of anger and bitterness. I didn't even realize it either. I thought that was just how life was and my opinions were more fact than fiction.

I carried these hurts around with me and periodically the pain would be unleashed against someone... I remember I used to become so inwardly angry sometimes. Looking back, I see that my hurt and bitterness was just bubbling over into aspects of my life that had nothing to do with the original hurt. I couldn't explain why I was angry - I just hurt everywhere in my heart and I didn't know what to do about it. I tried prayer, but I felt like God made things more complicated. I didn't want to give my bitterness to Him - I want to hang on to it and point out to Him how I was so hurt and how it wasn't fair.

And then I met Andy. I really feel like God brought Andy in my life to teach me about His love for me, about forgiveness, and releasing the pain that I had been storing inside some deep well in my heart. Andy has loved me unconditionally since the moment I met him. I remember one time I got mad at him for just loving me. I ran out of my apartment and just started crying. I am so messed up, I thought to myself. I can't even let someone love me. And the problem was, I couldn't. I didn't want him to love me. I wanted him to get mad at me and storm off. To leave me. To abandon me.

I don't think I realized over-night that I was hanging on to all my hurt. Slowly, over the course of Andy and I's relationship, I started releasing my hurts one by one. He listened to me cry over the pain, he prayed with me, he laughed with me, and he loved me when I took it out on him. I truly do not deserve the love that he has given me everyday. He has never raised his voice at me, he has never displayed any anger towards me, and he has pulled me into his arms when my anger has bubbled over onto him.

As we were lying in bed last night, I realized how much healing God has brought into my life through the love Andy has shown me. I have such unspeakable joy now. Healing has come slowly, but it has been thorough. I am no longer bitter - sometimes I am sad about the past, but the anger has disappeared. Every time I see my husband, I realize how God has blessed me beyond what I have ever imagined possible.

Our conversation came to an end around midnight and we headed off to bed. As Andy hugged me close, I thanked God for the way that He restored my heart. For the way that He used Andy to show me His love in a tangible way. I thanked Him for the joy that filled my heart. I asked Him to teach me how to love Andy in the way God wants to love him. I asked Him to teach me to be the physical demonstration of God's love to the people in my life.

"Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city."
Psalm 31:21

"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name."
Psalm 103:1

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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