Love Note

Dana Gustafson   -  

The other morning, I sent my husband a text of encouragement. I wanted to acknowledge all that he has done in this season to support me and our family. Days before I sent it, I had taken notice of how much he was doing during a season of life that pulls us multiple different directions. A season where romance and date nights are few and far between, but intimacy is found in small acts of service like cooking dinner, doing dishes, and helping kids with homework. I know how tired he is, but I could see how hard he is trying. Before I sent it, my heart was full thinking through all the beauty that exists in this monotonous season of life. My heart genuinely swelled with adoration, pride, and joy over my spouse.

He then responded and said, “love you too, gorgeous. You’re the best.” No sooner than my heart read the text did my mind begin to reject the words. “Gorgeous?” Yeah, right. I’ve been covered in spit up for 4 months and barely get the chance to shower. “The best”, hardly. I’m barely able to keep up with everything and am lacking in *nearly* every area that I usually expect myself to perform in. He can’t possibly mean either statement. Text closed.

Wow. Why don’t I believe him? Yes, this man may see me at my worst, but he also gets me at my very best. Yes, he may see me first thing in the morning, but he is the only one I get dressed up to go on a date with. Sure, he may notice the piles of laundry that have gone unwashed, but he also knows the effort I’m going to to be present with our kids when I have a free moment away from the baby. Sure, he sees my dark circles, but he also sees me awake in the middle of the night nursing our child. Yes, he sees me lose my patience with the kids, but he also sees me pursue forgiveness and apologize to them after I lose my temper. Yes, he knows the dysfunctional patterns of my family, but he also sees how hard I work to try and break them for our kids. He has been on the receiving end of harsh words said in a moment of fatigue and exhaustion, but he is also the only one that receives my words of affection and adoration as my life partner.

Of all people, a compliment from this man should mean the very most because the words would not be said if they weren’t coming from his heart. This man sees my beauty, not for what I look like, but for who I am. He sees my value, not based on surface level tasks but at the depth of who I am as a person and his partner. By anyone else’s standards I may not fit “gorgeous” or “the best” but by the one who knows me most intimately, I am. Why, then, is it so hard for me to believe his words and receive his love?

And this is where the Holy Spirit illuminated a profound insight to my heart. I realized that it is hard for me to receive a compliment from my husband because while he sees me and speaks into my best, he is also the one that sees me and is exposed to my very worst. I have a hard time receiving love from him because there are so many reasons that he doesn’t need to give it freely. If he wanted, he could take all those moments of fatigue, poor hygiene, harsh words, harsh tones, and poor humanity and use them to qualify or quantify my lovability or value. It is most challenging to receive love from those that know us at our most vulnerable, most intimately. To be always loved by someone and in all seasons, temperaments, appearances, and weaknesses, now that is life-giving, vulnerable, and a gift.

In a moment that I was resisting the love of my spouse, I realized that this is why it is so difficult for people to come to and receive Christ’s love. How on earth could this God, who knit me together in my mother’s womb, numbered the hairs on my head, knows my thoughts and the desires of my heart, possibly love me? If, in fact, God sees us and knows how every part of my life will play out, how could he possibly call me chosen? Adopted? Redeemed? If he really sees me in all my sinfulness, how could he think I am fearfully and wonderfully made? Has he not seen what I’m capable of? If he knows my special talents and gifts, how could he love me for the way I’ve used them for selfish gains? If he really knows my weaknesses, my sin, how could he possibly have died on the cross for me? I’m not worthy. What value do I bring to him?

This may sound like a stretch, but the Bible is just like that text message. It is a love note written to us from the one who knows us the most intimately. No sooner do we read the words chosen, adopted, redeemed, fearfully and wonderfully made, do we begin to disqualify ourselves from God’s love.

Yes, God may see us at our worst, but he is also the one who can see our very best. Yes, God may see our pride but he also knows our humility. He may see our failures, but he also sees our hearts. We need to stop disqualifying ourselves from God’s love because he knows us the best. Just our existence means we were created for his glory. It is, in fact, the very reason we need to believe the words he says about us and allow them to build greater intimacy with him in our hearts.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7