“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV)
Twenty-five years ago, I held a newborn baby in my arms.
She was beautiful, tiny.
And I was young — 19 to be exact.
I was a unmarried teenage mom and a sophomore in college. The year of my daughter’s birth was one of the most difficult years of my life. It was hard — very hard.
A positive pregnancy test set off a string of new realities in my life, one of which was a strong feeling of a lack of worth. I had messed up and disappointed the people I loved. I was on my way to being “mom” in a season of life where I planned on being a kid. I was no longer the “good girl” I’d once tried to be.
I wondered, sometimes out loud, Does God still love me?
Pain mixed with a little shock, a ton of remorse, and lots of uncertainty left me feeling unlovable, unredeemable and out of God’s good graces.
I knew He loved me, but didn’t feel it. Instead I felt alone, in the dark and cold.
During one of those lonely moments, I reached for my Bible and searched for reassurance of God’s love for me. I believed God loved me no matter what, yet I just needed proof. I needed a reminder to rest in and rehearse so I wouldn’t forget or doubt the reality of His love in my life.
I wrote one verse down on a sheet of notebook paper. That one verse became two, then five, then over time became two pages of Scripture to remind me how God loved me.
I kept those notebook papers with me at all times — folded in my pocket or my purse or my backpack as I went to class.
Over time, I’ve learned to believe God’s love for me is unconditional. While He does indeed desire for me to obey His Word and walk in righteousness, His acceptance of me does not ride or die on whether or not I measure up. Consequences ebb and flow with my choices, but His everlasting love does not.
As I rehearsed those verses that represented a lifeline to His love, I learned to believe in His love for me in a very deep and real way. And the more I understood His love, the more I wanted to live a life that exemplified the love I desired to offer to Him in return, just as our key verse reminds us: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
I recently dug out those pieces of paper. They’re still intact, though they’ve yellowed with time. As I held them in my hands, I was overcome by the gift of God’s love to an imperfect person like me.
Not only does God love me unconditionally, He loved and always loves me first. God doesn’t wait on me to come to Him ready with everything together or with all my ducks in a row. He’s loved me — and continues to love me — to live the life of the girl He created me to be.
Since those college days, I have had my fair share of hard times. But one thing hasn’t changed.
I know He loves me. And I’ve learned more deeply over time to believe in my value to God and trust what He thinks of me, regardless of where life has led me thus far. I understand more about how He wants me to live my life, knowing He has made me beautiful, strong and powerful in Him.
As long as I still have breath in my lungs, it’s never too late to choose to live her life … the life of the girl who feels lost. Or forgotten. The girl who’s made mistakes.
Or the life of the girl who simply needs to stop wasting time and move forward with what she knows she should do.
How do I know it’s never too late to know the love of God? Because it wasn’t too late for me.
And here’s what I know — it’s never too late for you to seek His Word, His face, His heart and His hopes for the life of the girl in you.
Dear Father, sometimes I struggle to believe You love me and You can redeem my story and life, however it’s played out thus far. I want to be exactly who You created me to be. Give me the confidence to believe in Your love for me and Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)
Are you the woman you want to be? Proverbs 31 Ministries is partnering with Chrystal Evans Hurst as we read her newly released book, She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You, as our next FREE Online Bible Study. Recognize the woman you were meant to be as you set out on a journey to find direction, purpose and true satisfaction. You can sign up for the study here.
In celebration of her new book, She’s Still There, Chrystal is hosting an amazing giveaway on her blog. Click here to download a free printable Chrystal has made available to remind you of God’s love and to enter to win a bundle of She’s Still There Swag!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
No matter where you are, what you’ve done, or what you are facing, God is on your side. Are you struggling to believe this truth? If so, why? If not, which Scriptures or encouragement can you share with someone who is?
© 2017 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.