I told a friend the other day I am learning to rest in being loved.
While that day I meant in the context of my romantic relationship, really the deeper lesson is living loved.
What does a person who lives loved look like?
If you were entirely at peace with the fact that you were unconditionally loved and nothing could change this love, how would you feel? How would you act? How would you navigate through this world?
Well, you are.
The God of the universe loves us with an unconditional love that never fails and never forsakes us, even when people fail us or circumstances get hard or tragedy strikes. His love is there.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
—Romans 8:38–39 (NIV)
We don’t have to live in worry or fear.
We can live loved.
If we are in a committed relationship, we can rest in love.
Sure, relationships don’t always work out, and we risk heartbreak if we open our hearts to love, but if our ultimate source of love comes from our Heavenly Father, then we know no matter what happens, we will be okay.
We will not lose love.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
—Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
7 Ways to Rest in Love
In no particular order, here are seven ways to cultivate a spirit that rests in love. This is a heart that is at peace.
- Take care of your physical self.
This seems so simple, but it’s not. At least for me. I think sometimes we forget we are not just meant to perform tasks and like pictures on Facebook. We are spirits who live in bodies. Bodies that are temples of the Holy Spirit. Bodies that should be taken care of and treasured and honored, just as a church should be. Or a home should be. And eating steady, healthy meals; drinking water; exercising and getting fresh air; and resting are all so important. When your body is not taken care of, it is hard to feel good. A tired, unfed body can equal rollercoaster emotions.
- Take a breath.
Sometimes, we just need to stop and take a breath. If we find ourselves babbling or feeling that disconnect where it feels like our mouth or heart is floating away from us like a balloon, just stop. Breathe. Ask God to calm your heart. Ask Him to slow you down. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I am learning to stop, breathe, and invite God into these moments. He has supernaturally calmed my spirit time and time again. Like a first responder at the scene of the storm, He is right there. And you can call Him immediately. He is as close as a breath.
- Spend time daily with Jesus.
I find when I start my day with Jesus, the day is more focused. Centered. Intentional. Peaceful. Like I just filled up my gas tank for a trip. I am full and ready for the day and whatever it may bring.
- Cultivate your identity outside of a romantic relationship.
We cannot expect a relationship to fill our every need. We must remember to take time for Jesus, our own interests, and our other relationships. Expecting one person to fill our love tank leads to disappointment, frustration, resentment, arguments, etc. Do not put the burden of your identity or happiness on another person.
- Learn about God’s love for you.
Yes, learn about it. Read the Bible and write verses that speak to His love for you. Carry them with you. Put them in the notes of your phone. Tape them to your mirror. Speak them aloud. Ask God to show you His love for you. I believe He loves this challenge, especially from a sincere heart.
- Speak words of life.
Lots of folks in the Bible encouraged themselves aloud. So why don’t we do this more often? Talking to yourself gets a bad rap! Okay, now be orderly with it. Don’t just go running your mouth while in a quiet office or in the line at Chick-fil-A. But don’t be afraid to counter the enemy’s thought darts with the truth. At times when I have felt insecure in my relationship or the enemy was striking me with darts of rejection, I spoke the truth aloud in my apartment. I said things like, “Justin cares for me. He wouldn’t send me sweet morning texts or buy flowers for me if he didn’t.” Stuff like that. It’s amazing the power of speaking life into your situation. Speaking affirmations over your life is like putting on armor. Craig Groeschel, pastor of Life.Church—the largest church in the United States—and husband, father, and author, starts every morning with his written vision statements for his life and relationships. He speaks words of life over his day as if he is putting on his clothes or combing his hair or brushing his teeth.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
—John 10:10 (NIV)
- Don’t panic.
When you’ve been hurt a lot in your past, it’s easy to think the very worst or go to the worst possible scenario in your mind. But we are human. Try as we might, we are going to drop the ball on occasion. And we should not be expected to fulfill every desire of another person. Even tonight, I saw a win in how I didn’t panic that my man didn’t send his normal morning text or respond to the ones in the afternoon. I knew he had just gotten off a ten-hour shift the previous day and then worked in the morning. He was probably exhausted. I gave him a pass and didn’t panic as I would have in the past because it “wasn’t like him.” And sure enough, he sent me a text later in the evening. We need to give grace and let each other be human. Sometimes we just get busy or need to rest.
Even the disciples had moments of panic, though, like when they were with Jesus and a furious storm came up. Jesus, not seeming to notice, was in the back of the boat, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples, frustrated, woke him up and admonished him for not caring about them: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Then Jesus immediately calmed the waves and said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-40, NIV)
As I reflected on this Bible story I read the previous night, I thought of how Jesus was a human being. Yes, He was God but in human flesh. And like us, He got tired. He needed rest. He needed alone time. Just as we all do sometimes. I also thought of how even the disciples had moments of panic or worry about His care for them, just as we have in relationships. I mean, think about it. What TRUST they needed to follow this man who asked them to leave everything and follow Him. They experienced some pretty crazy stuff with Jesus; they weren’t always received well by others. I’m sure they felt some waves of fear and insecurity being in relationship with Him!
Resting in Dating (Is This Possible???)
For me, the interesting thing about dating with Jesus in the center has been how God has used all its lessons and rejections—and now my relationship—to show me that He is my only true compass and constant.
Before, I looked to relationships for so much of my worth that I completely lost myself in them; then, even recently, I thought that being in a Christian relationship would be all roses. While Justin has gotten me some beautiful flowers over the months (thanks, babe!), I’ve found that being in a Christ-centered relationship has not always been roses but also thorny growth—lots of growth and vulnerability and stuff being pulled out of me that God wants to heal. Christ in the center has been my relationship’s strength, but God continues to teach me of His love, that He wants me to understand and experience the depths of His true, unconditional love for me no matter what. He wants me to understand what living loved means. That I do not need to perform or do cartwheels for it. Or live perfectly. Or not make mistakes. Or not show my insecurities. Or not have fear.
Jesus grounds me. He calms the storms of my fears. He is teaching me to rest in the midst of the storms of emotions or fear or lack of control (and love is not about control). The moments when my instinct is to fight or flight. While Jesus is always there—and sometimes we call on Him in fright so He takes action for us—ultimately, I think, He wants us to rest. To come to a deep realization that He is there. He is not going anywhere. He is worthy of our faith and love. That His gifts, like my relationship (which Justin and I both know came from Him), are for our good. That good is not just calm waters but also the growth that comes from the storms and following Him step-by-step just as the disciples did. The trust that is built when we learn that He is always present, no matter what.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
—Mark 4:35-40 (NIV)
I guess resting in love does not mean there won’t be storms, but it’s knowing that we’re never alone in them and that we don’t have to panic. We can learn to rest deeper in that and how much He loves us.
Have a beautiful week!!!