I have been almost 37 years on a journey that has taken me places that I have had to struggle and pray myself through. It has been a beautiful journey full of love and laughter, friends and confidantes, playfulness and brokeness. I cry easier than most. I laugh whole-heartedly. I learn to trust and I learn to dance.
We talk about people having “sides”. Expressions like “Stay on his good side and everything will be alright.” Or, “Once you get on his bad side, you had better watch out!” We watch people shift from one mood to another, or sometimes one personality to another and we don’t know what happened to them. They “switched sides”. Growing up with a beautiful, yet “broken” father who defined his love by his anger, fear, and tainted desires, I have always worked to be on the “good side” of people and stay aware of when any switch takes place. I believed love to be conditional, faulty, and intertwined with perversions. I “danced” to stay on the side of love. I didn’t know what love is. I didn’t know what dancing was for.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I began to understand what this means when God began to show me what His love looks like. Like a constant beam of light is the love and character of God. No shadows, no ulterior motives, no perverse desires, no shifting, no changing sides. There is no indecision, no conditions, no favorites, and no depleting of its supply. It is not forced, demanded, or revoked. It is a strong, steady force that melts my defenses, washes my sorrows, infuses my hope and heals my pain.
We talk about love being a feeling, or a decision, an action, or a commitment. And yes, love encompasses all of these things, but love is not defined by these terms alone. The declaration of what love is God himself. God is love. Love is a person. Love has a name. Love has an origin. Love has a destination. You and I are that destination.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God did not wait for my good behavior to love me. God loved me before I loved Him. Before I knew what love was– while I was angry and bitter and full of unforgiveness He loved me. While I was looking for love’s definition, He was love. When I closed my heart and put up walls to shield me from the “bad sides” of broken men, He remained unchanging, pure, and constant.
I constantly return to the definition of love when I have been hurt by someone. When I have faced rejection, indifference, anger, misunderstanding and even perversion from someone defining their love through their brokeness, I have to return to the definition of what real love is. I return to the “Lover of my Soul”, Jesus. He who loved me first. He who shows me what love is. I’m learning to “Dance with the One who brung me.” I dance with the One who rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
I suppose if you were to trace my footsteps on this journey I have been on, you will find places where I dug in my heels and refused to move, and places where I ran and hid. You would see puddles of tears and places where my knees hit the ground. As I grow in the reality of the love of God, my hope is that more often than not my footprints will show a woman who has danced; but not the dance of one who is afraid of pain. I want to dance as the woman who knows what love is and has no fear.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.