My mom took me to church every Sunday and taught catechesis lessons, so I heard, "God loves you" at an early age. When I got to be a teenager and noticed boys, I longed to hear those words, "I love you". I've come to understand that words without actions are empty. I've experienced those "love" words when they are meant to control, manipulate, and even condemn. Withholding love is a weapon used to destroy.
After a childhood in a denomination that didn't emphasize personal Bible reading, I bought my first Bible when I joined a Southern Baptist Church post-college. It was thrilling to read about God's love, grace and mercy. My head understood it, but my heart was lagging far behind. I wasn't good enough, I didn't know enough about the Bible, I wasn't a good enough person to deserve His love.
Oden in Structure of Awareness says, "I can only experience the freedom to be loved when I understand myself to be loved. The capacity to love is the gift of being loved. Love exists only as a response to being loved. I cannot love out of the poverty of my lovelessness. I cannot love merely in response to the idea of being loved, but only to the event, the reality of actually being loved."
These past five years have taught me a lot about love and how I experience it. I didn't come to know God's love fully until it was demonstrated to me by other people. Not just in their words, but in their actions.
It was the new friend that brought food to the house when I had surgery, another who took me to the doctor when I couldn't drive myself. One stayed on the phone for hours when I was going through a painful divorce, another helped me with a budget, and another helped me refinance my house. They didn't want anything from me, didn't need anything from me, and honored our relationship. They loved me with God's love.
Now that I have experienced it through human hands, I finally know God's love for me. His love has traveled the longest distance on Earth: the fifteen inches between my head and my heart.
It doesn't stop there. Human touch has indwelled God's love in me. Now, I must follow God's command for me to love others. It might be an invitation to lunch after meeting a newcomer at church, a time to sit and talk with a co-worker about a family problem, or maybe just a quiet evening at home with your spouse.
How are you going to show someone how much God loves them, today?