By Alli Van Roekel Feb 10, 2016
One of my top VIA Character Strengths is LOVE. It is described as “valuing close relationships with others, particularly those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close also feel most close to you.” I love to love, you could say, and I feel fulfilled by having loving relationships.
And yet, I often have a hard time believing it when I hear the words “I love you”. In particular, I need a lot of reminders that God loves me. There is a clamor of voices that tell me otherwise, so it takes a lot of concentration to hear the voice that speaks truth.
Below, I want to share with you three short stories of times when I was reminded of God’s vast love for me, and how many times I needed to hear it to receive the message:
STORY 1: Mountain Top
On a mountain top, I stood in silence along with a couple hundred youth and youth leaders spread out among the woods outside our cabins at church camp. The song, “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townsend blared across the cool summer breeze. As I heard him say it over and over again…”Let My Love Open the Door…to your heart.” I broke down, realizing how tough the husk around my heart had become. I stopped believing that He loved me for a while…and the feeling of letting his love flood into my heart felt like such a rush.
STORY 2: Father Ryan
I began seeing Father Ryan, a Jesuit Priest, for Spiritual Direction when I sensed I was going through a dark night in my soul. I was heart-broken and had been for a while. As my heart grieved, I just needed someone to help me see what God was doing in my life. I visited him twice a month for a year. If you know anything about the Jesuit priesthood, they are brilliant, and have a rich tradition in contemplative practices. I don’t know how, but each time I spent an hour with Father Ryan, though he shared all kinds of beautiful words and wisdom…there was one message I always left with: GOD LOVES YOU. How does this simple message continue to amaze me?
STORY 3: The Point of Repetitive Worship songs!
In the front row at church last week (yes-I’m a FRONT ROW person!), I sang along with the worship leader and closed my eyes so I could really focus on the words. I asked myself—do I believe these words? Then, the worship leader led into the chorus of a song called “Oh, how he loves us” where the words repeat somewhere around 25-30 times in some version, how God loves us. It dawned on me that it wasn’t until the second to LAST time those words were lifted from our mouths, that I remembered that it is true. My heart opened, and I believed it…AGAIN.
Brothers and sisters, if you need to be reminded today that you are loved, let me have the privilege of being the messenger. You are indeed loved. More than you could possibly imagine. There is no end to this love. It doesn’t matter how many times you need to hear it to believe it, the point is…IT’S TRUE.