In my minds eye, I can see "a perfect relationship." Not in terms of place, time, success, looks, or circumstance - but emotions, joy, trust, honesty and openness. Oneness. Thanks to hundreds of movies, we all have the image of a woman running at a man, full-speed, and throwing herself into his arms - ecstatic and all-consumed with the heart that is before her. Nothing else in her line of sight. Joy painted across her face. It's almost a renewed form of innocence. Love does that.
Anyway, I was thinking about these things as I drove home late last night after hearing a teaching on marriage and oneness at JHouse (such perfect timing for me, somehow - even though I'm as single as it gets) - bouncing images off the walls of my mind. I was a mess when I had showed up at JHouse and Kelly was a doll and spent the first chunk of the service praying and crying with me in an empty hallway.
Forgive me as I piece these thoughts together poorly.
Months ago, someone gave me an image of God offering me a wedding band - he is my husband, my faithful. The whole God is my husband/boyfriend thing has always really irritated me, by the way. It wasn't til I switched out the traditional word for what that relationship WAS to what it MEANT - what I needed and wanted in that relationship - my faithful, my rock, supporter, encourager, helper, provider, lover, companion and confidante - that I realized that yes, this is who God is for me. It gets harder still when we're also told he is our Father, and then that Jesus sticks closer than a brother - a strange sort of family that clearly wouldn't work in human terms. But remove the limitations of relationships defined on earth, and think about what your heart desires. That one heart to cleave to, run to, fall back on, love on and be loved by, trust wholly, to teach you, to provide for you, to listen to you, to lead you, to sit with you, and forever on. The point is that God more than fills that unrelenting need in all ways, and in ways we can't understand.
Anyway, I've accepted that he is the other half in this all-encompassing relationship for me, but in no way has it matched up with that first "perfect, beautiful relationship" I described at the beginning of this post. Some days I've felt let down. Disappointed. On bad days I beg him to show me where that relationship is. Eventually, I think we all get to the place where we decide it's not worth it. If being in a relationship with God is just for the sake of being in one, and having that relationship spot filled, then meh. We could just do without. I could always come back. Oh, that line. (Would we ever want to leave someone that fits that 'perfect relationship' description? Would we ever want to leave when we are crazy-in-love? Food for thought.)
As I was thinking through what Kelly had prayed over me and what we had both heard from God, I got stuck trying to complete this image of God being one who watched over my heart at every minute of the day, and showed up with gifts for me just when he knew I needed them. Why does this not satisfy? Why do I not see the gifts as real gifts? Why do I swallow them down as either "I deserve this," and give him no thanks, or "I don't deserve this, let me work harder," again, with no true thanks. I kept fighting through to try to mesh the image of God's love and provision with my 'perfect relationship' image, and finally I found yet another wall my heart had still standing. It has no name, and a cause unique to no one. It's what develops as a result of flawed relationships with the people in our lives that give to us, added onto the fact that we ourselves have flawed hearts and minds.
This wall - more like chains, or a mask - has kept me from being myself with God when he gives to me. It's kept me from being a woman in love. This mask has kept me from understanding why gifts are given to me and what my response should be, making them not gifts at all. (Isn't that just how the deceiver works? Taking something beautiful and making it into something that it's not?) One of the greatest lies we can ever believe about God is that he doesn't really give gifts.
Gift: something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone; something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.Let me put it this way. When a man brings a gift to his beautiful woman that he knows she will love - what is his greatest reward in giving it to her? What does he expect in return? He expects no *thing* in return - this is what defines it as a GIFT. But it is given with a hope - a hope of joy, ecstasy, love, thankfulness, and total satisfaction with him. The hope of that 'perfect relationship' manifesting itself in all of its glory. I finally meshed the images together.
When God gives me a gift, he desires nothing from me - but that I throw myself into his arms and tell him a dozen times over how much I love it, how happy it makes me, how much I love him, and how treasured and loved I feel.
Any man reading this, I am sure, will agree with me. That when he brings his girl any gift, there is no greater reward than to see her eyes light up and be completely enraptured with what he gave, and her repeated thanks - attested by the joy on her face. That it pales in comparison to her giving an expected thank you and offering to do something for him tomorrow in return. Yes, men?
Women (and men), if you feel you don't deserve a gift, know that you've already forgotten what a gift is. Begin to learn to be crazy in love with Him. Be ecstatic when you receive your gifts. Because that is why they are given to you.
I hope this made sense.
This is my prayer - that we learn to be the woman enraptured with our gifts. That we learn to abandon the lie that tells us we have to make up for and repay our gifts, and by doing so, disappoint the giver and devalue the gift. Because don't you know that the gift is given because he wants to watch us be delighted?
I have no theological evidence to support this, but I would humbly submit that perhaps the more often we respond to our gifts in this way, the more he will love to give to us. <3>
You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity
will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11
If you, then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts
to those who ask him!