For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Hard Part of Being Loved by God

I'm thinking back over last year, and overall, I really enjoyed 2015. There were a couple of really dark spots, and they were hard, but they were also healing. I've mentioned my friend John before. He is incredibly gifted for knowing how to stand in those places with me. He served in the Marine Corps for 9 1/2 years, and he understands that sometimes you can extricate a person from the battle, and sometimes you have to sit with them and be a presence while the battle rages. He is good at both, and oddly, one of the most healing things of this year was being in that dark place, looking up, and seeing him standing there. I fight for other people. I've never had anyone who stood there and fought for me. And although the dark place was hard, his being in the middle of it was healing in ways I cannot express.

You know, we try to avoid the hard places. We try to avoid places where we are on our hands and knees, bloody and bruised, with our faces inches from the ground while we just try to breathe, and all our brains can come up with is, "God help me." Those places shred us. The pain of those places is deeper than any human words can speak, and what I have found in the last five years, and so vividly this year, this is the very place where God becomes so clear. This is the place where healing we never imagined happens.

I think, though, often we only see how hard it is. We live in our anger, feelings of abandonment, and pain. We choose to see that and only that, and we don't see the people fighting for us or the way God provides for us.

One of the passages I pray over my kids and myself personally on a regular basis is from Ephesians 3.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I confess to you during October and November that when I prayed this, I was expecting some kind of warm fuzzy. I thought I'd feel all...well, new romance-ish. You know, like when you first fall in love and you're just overcome by the joy and excitement of it all. That is kind of what I expected. Looking back, I realize that was shallow, but really, I was at a place where I really wanted to feel better and warm-fuzzified joy and excitement would have been better.

Except, what I got was even better than that because what I got was beyond the emotion of new love. What I got was the depth of established love, the kind of love that you lean into on the really hard days when you've got nothing lovable to offer, and instead of having something to give, you simply need.

I started praying that, and the Lord started reminding me of different parts of the year. He reminded me of hard parts and hurtful places and the utterly feeling of exhaustion, and then He reminded of the people who gave a hand, gave a kind word, or stood there until the battle was manageable again. He reminded me of the love He had poured out through people, through the right verse at the right time, through the right song on the radio just when I needed it, through a vacation filled with mishaps that have become sources of laughter.

And when the year was over, I looked back at the year, and I saw the hard places and overshadowing each one was the gift of love God poured into it, a gift that would have meant nothing without the hard stuff. I looked back and saw the wonderful things and saw the beauty of His fingerprints on those, too. It was just an amazing year of seeing God love me in amazing ways with amazing determination and amazing depth.

As the New Year slid in, I read the posts wishing people prosperity, joy, and all good things. I tried not to wish anyone anything because if I could give anyone anything, I'd give them my year last year, with all the joy, adventure, and wonder...and all the hard, the empty, and the feeling lost. I would give them the God I experienced and the intimacy I've learned. And I would give them the truth from this side of all that: It's worth every moment. It's worth the hard stuff you go through because of all the God stuff you get.

The hard part of being loved by God is the road to the reality of just how much you really are loved by God.

And it is so very worth it.

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