Perfect love casts out fear...
1 John 4:18
The last few weeks have been hard. But they have been less difficult because of friends and family who have come around me to pray and reach out with love and encouragement, mostly through texts. I have never had a great many friends. Too much "peopling" tends to overwhelm me. I've convinced myself I don't need people as much as others do. I have my husband, and that's enough. A lot of the messages at church on how much we need each other have been lost on me. But what if I need people more than I realize? I just need them in a different way than staying after church talking or going out with a group of girlfriends. Though I sometimes like that. But I have inadvertently equated love with socialization. So in my mind, I could only love as much as I was willing to be social. Because I didn't want to be around people all the time, I could never be good at loving them.
I recently joined a new Bible Study. These women are great! And they text each other all the time. I don't do that. But I read them, and I see the love they have for each other, and it makes me want to do better. But I am afraid. Afraid that I am incapable of loving others. I like going to planned events like Bible Studies or seeing the same people at work every day. I like being invited to do things with one other person or couple rather than a party or a large group. Still, I realize I sometimes have to be the one who does the inviting. And I resist. I don't know why. Most likely it has to do with something I said to my son-in-law while we were driving to my niece's wedding a few weeks ago. I told him I usually assume that people don't like me or want to be around me. He is not like that, so he didn't understand. He said, "Why?" That's a good question and one I don't know how to answer.
So, this time, when the texts of love and encouragement kept coming, I was deeply touched. The invitation to attend church with another couple and then go to their house for pizza and games was one of the best things anyone could have done. The sincere ongoing interest in how I am doing has blessed me more than I ever thought possible! The invitation to go out to eat after church with friends was so much fun! And going to a gym on a guest pass with another lady touched me in a way I didn't think possible! All that to say, there is power in loving people! I know because I have been the recipient of love from others.
Maybe love doesn't have to look like something specific, for example, being social; it just has to be sincere and caring and consistent. Like the love the ladies in my Bible Study have for each other. I'm sure it isn't perfect, but it is real. How do they do it? I hope to find out. For many years, I didn't understand the love God has for me. It seemed unattainable or hidden. When I finally experienced His love, it was one of the greatest seasons in my life. Before I knew His love, I didn't realize how much I needed it and wanted it. What if it's the same with people? What if I don't understand how much I need or want it? What if, once I find it, I will feel completely different, and see it to be one of the greatest joys in life? Right now, I'm not sure it's worth the risk, but I am at least willing to consider the possibility.
The Bible verse at the top says, "Perfect love casts out fear..." God's love is perfect, and it has cast out my fear of Him. I am not scared of God. I stand in awe of Him, I have a fearful respect for Him, but I am not afraid He will stop loving me. I never think He is out to get me, or that He will give up on me. He never ignores me or leaves me out. He is always there. There is so much power in His love. I don't know if I will ever be able to say that about people, but I believe God is telling me not to give up on myself. I also think that He is telling you the same thing...whatever that thing is that holds you back. Don't give up!