The revelations keep coming. And I had a real tragically funny one this morning. It suddenly hit me WHAT my distorted image of God was. It was the image of a God OBLIGED to love me.
And so it is that I have always believed God loves me no matter what. But He loves me – why? Because loving me (and everyone else) is the ‘right thing to do’. And God being perfect means that He will always be able to love me, no matter how unlovable or unworthy I actually am. That to me, is what ‘unconditional love’ is! An effort! And God will always forgive me – again, because He can always do the ‘right thing’.
I was suddenly struck that this was how I’ve experienced and known ‘LOVE’ all my life. It is both something to be merited (I need to make myself worthy of it), and, when it is given to me in spite of my faults, it is because of the merit of others who are obliged to love me. It is because they ought to love me, it is right for them to love me, and so they do.
As you can see, I don’t know what love is! I don’t know who God is! Upon my realization, I kept repeating, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I actually think You’re obliged to love me… I can’t believe that’s what I think!” It just goes to show how incongruent intellectual belief/knowledge can be with the unconscious beliefs of the heart! I was laughing in horror at myself!
Suddenly I realized – I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!!! Ha ha ha… I don’t know who I am apart from how others see me. And I don’t know how to accept myself, or to love myself. I don’t know what it is I really want to do in my life because I have never been internally free to choose. I don’t know why I’ve lived so long for other people and not for myself. I’ve loved God for so long, and I find out now the God I love and thought I knew is not who He is at all!
But how MARVELOUS this realization of ignorance is! Because now I know the source of my unhappiness. Now I know that for the past 30 years (minus 2 weeks exactly!), this has been my handicap – that I have lived and done virtually everything and made every important decision out of a sense of obligation and duty. And so, I don’t really know what it is to truly live, to truly choose out of freedom! No wonder I am unhappy. No wonder I feel empty and lonely in spite of being blessed with such a wonderful husband and family – because my handicap has prevented me from receiving true love fully from God.
On the brink of turning 30 years old, I realize so much of what I thought I knew well is false. And that I know nothing yet of what really matters. It makes me feel like a newborn babe, like I have gained brand new eyes and ears and a brand new heart to feel with. And I feel so happy that this is God’s birthday present for me as I turn 30. A brand new chance to live my life.
I’ve always wanted to serve and love Him, but now I realize that I used to see service as an obligation and as a way of making myself more worthy. And I always sought to love Him because it is right that I do so. But never yet have I known what it is to serve and love Him in joyous response to being loved by Him – because I have not yet learned to receive His love.
After 30 years of being alive and 24 years of being a baptized Catholic, I have been born again. Today marks the first day of my new life. And I can already feel it in my bones – it will be a truly WONDERFUL LIFE!