While reflecting on my past weekend with Dan, I had a bit of a revelation about love, God and the Church. I love how when we are open the Holy Spirit can teach us so many things about God from our everyday interactions. I especially love when He does that while I spend time with someone that I love being with! J
I know that Dan loves me. I mean, he did ask me to marry him – so, that's gotta mean something right? I should KNOW that fact is true every day (and I do – but there's a difference between knowing something and trusting in it in such a way that you are abiding in that truth). Yet, when living 2000 miles apart and not seeing each other for six weeks, I become susceptible to fears. I wonder what living together will be like after we get married; I mean, will I even like living with someone else or will I be so used to living on my own that I won't even like being in the same room with him for too long? I can get focused on what I am giving up: familiar places and faces, rather than focusing on what I am gaining: a new life with the man that I love, entering into a calling to love him with my whole life and to be loved by all of his.
There I was on Thursday evening, walking down the runway with my heart in my stomach because I *finally* got to be with my love, again. Butterflies of excitement consumed me; I always wonder if he'll be as excited to see me as I am to see him; I always hope that I'll still be pleasing and acceptable him. After a weekend spent with Dan, I am reminded and have an even better understanding of the height, depth, and breadth of his love for me. This weekend, I was sick. (Yes; how awesome, huh?) After six weeks of not seeing him and 364 days of NOT having the 24-hour stomach flu (yes, last Valentine's Day I also came down with the bug), I was sick-sick-sick. I wouldn't have blamed him if he quarantined me to a certain area of the apartment; he can get sick pretty easily. He didn't. He was so good, caring and gentle with me…and I experienced how unconditionally he loves me.
I know all the time that Dan loves me. We talk daily; we tell each other daily…but sometimes, we have to experience – in the flesh – the height, depth, width or breadth of love that someone has for us before it sinks in, just a little deeper, into our souls. (Some of you might be familiar with the phrase "head knowledge versus heart knowledge.") As I thought about this truth, the Holy Spirit called to mind a much greater truth: this is why we need the Church.
The Church is to represent Christ's Body on earth; we are the manifestation (visible reality) of God's love and presence on earth; we are the kingdom of God. How many people do you know who use the line, "Oh – I don't need to go to church. I believe in God; I read my Bible; I pray; I'm spiritual; it's me and God – and we're good." No, you're not. You are missing out on the beautiful reality of the Body of Christ. We are meant to not just live in relationship with God, but with others – especially those who are His.
I remember a friend of mine telling me about her son who wanted to get married. He said to her, "I know that God loves me, Mom; I know that is enough…but, sometimes, I just want someone with flesh on; I want to love somebody." The Church is our opportunity to love somebodies – and to be loved by somebodies. The key to really experiencing this reciprocating love and care requires vulnerability with each other. We need to be open to giving our time, our hearts, our joys, our hurts, our prayers and receiving the same from others. It is very true that we can grow in many ways through our private times of study, prayer and reflection; often, this time leads me to a greater amazement and awe of God…but, it's when I see Him act through people in my life that I really key into the truth of His deep, faithful, providing love for me. His love for me isn't just something written in a book (or spoken over the phone); it's real and tangible. By loving others, I also am living out the truth that He loves and cares about people. Realizing this, I'm invigorated to become more involved in the Body and to be the Body to those I come I contact with.