Driving in the darkness of the moonlit car, my emotions were roiling. Hurt, confusion, and frustration had me on a slow simmer that was quickly snowballing into a burn.
It had started earlier that day, when a dear friend all but admitted that she isn’t always honest in her emotions, that her “bad days” aren’t something she feels comfortable revealing to me. And I could be content with that – we all have different roles to play in other people’s lives, and no one can be someone to everyone – if I didn’t think that she truly wanted me to take on a bigger role in her life, if I wasn’t convinced that a deeper friendship truly does matter to her.
But after a few years of friendship, I was no longer sure that I could convince her that when it comes to caring about her, the other shoe is not going to drop. Wary of women who have abandoned, betrayed, and hurt her in the past, a close relationship with a female is a constant struggle for her – the vulnerability, the fear of rejection or abandonment is just too high a hurdle for her to cross.
And as my husband and I drove in the car, I found myself staring intently at passing houses in an attempt to ignore my welling tears.
“I don’t know what else I can do,” I confessed to my husband, sitting next to me in the driver’s seat. “I text her, I talk to her, I tell her how much she means to me. I’ve known her for years – I haven’t gone anywhere, and I’m not going anywhere. Why is that so hard to believe?”
And I think: How many times do you have to say “I love you” before someone believes it?
Because the truth is, the affection I have for my friend isn’t conditional on whether or not she’s “good enough” to earn it, whether or not she’s perfected the persona of being “fine” even when circumstances are tough. In my mind, she’s enough, just as she is.
And since I know how amazing and special she is, and how deeply I care for her happiness, it’s hurtful to me to feel like I constantly have to prove myself. Outside of the situation, it could be so easy to judge her: Ugh, just get over it, already! You have a wonderful life, and you can’t even see it! You are loved, but you just can’t accept it!
But I’ve come to realize that, sometimes, I have trust issues, too. That while I may have an easier time than my friend does in trusting my relationships with my husband, family, and other loved ones, God has often been the source of my distrust. If life is good, my kids are behaving, and it’s a good hair day, God clearly loves me. But then there are days where I hear grisly abuse stories or horrific sex trafficking statistics and despair over whether or not there is truly good in the world. And I wonder: If God is just, how can he tolerate the evilness of this world? If God is loving, how can he see a hurting world and seemingly do nothing?
But perhaps God wonders the same thing about my response to the uncertainty of this life in the same way I’ve questioned my friend’s response: “How many times do I have to say ‘I love you’ before you believe me? Because the truth is, the affection I have for you isn’t conditional on whether or not you’re ‘good enough’ to earn it. You’re enough, just as you are.”
One of my favorite passages of the Bible speaks to this, how NOTHING can separate us from God’s love:
“Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:35-39 (MSG)
If I can believe in the power of unconditional love for my friend, can I accept it for myself, too? Am I willing to trust that the God of the universe is willing to embrace me, flaws and all?
Are you able to trust that you are loved? The God of the universe loves you desperately, completely, and wholeheartedly. You’re “enough,” just as you are. And today, that’s something you can trust.