“Do you really believe God loves you?”
If you’ve ever heard this question internally (or been asked it directly), then chances are you’re very familiar with that half-second sinking feeling in your gut that follows. The feeling when you doubt, even if for just a split second, and don’t know the answer.
Or how about during a break-up, job loss, or other adversity when you wonder, “Am I doing something wrong? Is God ignoring me?”
And of course there are the times when we lash out in anger, “I hate [traffic, my job, a person, God]!”
That ugly little feeling inside… Next time you feel it, I dare you to do something you’ve probably never done before: sit in it. I’m serious. Look inside yourself, find that ugly little ball of yuck, shine a spotlight on it, pull up a chair, and have a seat. It’s time to be willing to make yourself vulnerable, dig a little deeper, and take a peek under the cover.
First, let’s identify what we’re looking at. Is it fear? Shame?
Where does it come from? Past experiences or wounds? Pressure from responsibilities (bills, family, work)?
Now does it look a little differently? When we stop and analytically examine our anxiety, a lot of its power is taken away because it is no longer unbound. The dread of “never” being to do x, y, z is lessened. Under examination, we also see what it is not. It is not love thus it is not of God.
When I feel anxieties and doubts, Jesus’ words come to mind:
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
But beware of men,
for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 10:16-23
This seems like a very stressful situation Jesus is asking us to be in! I like that Jesus tells us not to worry because he is acknowledging that we will worry. But through our worry, God can do great things. Fear is not a roadblock, it is a road sign. It tells us that we’re on our way to going beyond our own human limitations and into God’s embrace. He asks us to embrace the fear and worry, to willingly make ourselves vulnerable, because when we make ourselves less, we can be filled with even more of God’s love.
Just think of the last time you encountered something that was out of your control: getting a new job, finding a new home, being sick, trying to conceive a new baby. Did you let go of your desire to be in control and give it to God? And when you did, didn’t you feel peace?
When we make ourselves vulnerable in this way, we intuitively know that there is something greater than ourselves. In that little moment of fear and doubt is the potential to prove God’s existence. When we are vulnerable, we are able to be more compassionate and to love more because we allow ourselves to be closer to God.