I love you. You are a good man.
Perfect love casts out all fear.
1 John 4:18
This morning I sat in the Quiet with the words, Speak Lord, I am listening, washing over me. As I snuggled in the prayer shawl my wife knitted for me I wrapped myself in the deep silence, hearing these words rise up within me, I love you. You are a good man.
Tears soon welled up as I noticed myself cringing at these words. Why is it so hard to just let God love me? These words should fill me with joy, not push me toward sadness, I thought.
Perhaps it’s the pre-Vatican II sense of guilt I was raised with, I pondered. The old: “It’s better to love your neighbor than yourself” philosophy that shamed me into false selflessness.
Or perhaps it’s the confusion I experienced over the years from the bitter and condemning words slung by others at me who misunderstood and manipulated me to meet their own need for love.
I’m not sure where the negative self-image within me comes from. I’m beginning to believe that I may never understand why it’s so hard to let myself be loved.
And maybe trying to understand isn’t the point, since it drives me deeper into a tailspin of self-reproach. Rather, perhaps the way out of this box is to spend more time opening my heart to the possibility that I am loved and am a good man.
A wise mentor once told me that he spends at least twenty minutes each day pondering and experiencing God’s love for him. He sits in quiet meditation allowing himself to bask in the love of God.
Mother Teresa also required her nuns to sit before the tabernacle for one hour each morning before they began their work in the slums. When asked why, Mother Teresa replied, so they can be filled with the love of God for themselves and then spread that love to others.
Maybe that’s the invitation from God to me, to all of us: to spend time each day simply letting God love us; to let ourselves feel the warmth that oozes through our pours like a spring rain filling us with the light of God’s love; to experience the peace that comes over us when we imagine what it feels like to be loved completely and unconditionally; to let the white light of compassion soothe us as we open ourselves up to the possibility that we are loved by the Creator immensely.
And maybe my resistance toward letting God love me is not an impediment I need to understand but rather an invitation to which I can say, yes.
Game Plan: Sit in the Quiet for 10-20 minutes and experience God’s love for you. How does it feel? What do you experience? Can you imagine an immense love, pure and gentle for you, for others? What would happen if you sat every day for ten minutes simply letting God love you?