I have been on a quest for a good part of my life. Yes, a quest. There are quests that follow paths, maps and terrains to unknown destinations, keeping us on the edge of our seats or up late at night turning pages. There is the search and anticipation for a resolution and conclusion. Then there is the pursuit of the one thing that may bring complete knowledge or total happiness. Well, my quest isn’t that exciting, but it is a search that has left me in the anticipation for its completion. This may surprise you, but my quest is about love. It is a love quest. Primarily, my quest has been about being accepted and esteemed. It is a quest about approval and performance. It is about affirmation and being noticed.
You might ask, “What does this have to do with love?” I asked myself the same question. Now, I think I know a lot about love. And actually, I am loved. I have parents who love me. I have a great husband and kids who love me. I have friends who love me. I even have co-workers who I think love me! I do know that God loves me. Love has sunken down deep in my heart, but I still have been on a quest to love and be loved. So, why this love quest?
What does this love quest look like? There are many ways to describe it, but there are two main paths in my search. There is the path for acceptance and then there is the path to be noticed. Here are some of my thoughts during my quest. See if any are familiar to you.
“I feel insecure when I don’t think I measure up. I don’t want others to see what I am really like. I feel like I need to be the best– way above the average. I also need to be recognized and noticed. I will feel better if I have their approval and acceptance. I feel stress, if I sense criticism or disapproval. “
Maybe for you, you sense it in the need for a boyfriend or in your parent’s approval. Maybe you felt it deeply when you were overlooked, or did not get a job or recognition you wanted. Or possibly, you ache in loneliness or, on the other extreme, you ache because you can’t be alone–always wanting to have people around you.
The good thing about quests is they usually take us some place and teach us valuable things along the way. If we are patient, we may see the quest going somewhere – somewhere worthwhile and important. If we can wait, we may find the quest quietly leading to unexpected places. Fortunately, this quest doesn’t seem to be leading me to a dead end, off a cliff, or into a bottomless hole. This quest has been leading me on a path to the love of God. It is leading me to God’s love for me and my love for Him.
There is a picture I have in my mind that has guided me recently in my quest. It is sort of a picture of what it means to be loved by God and to love Him. The picture is of a little girl sitting happily in her cute dress, bow in hair, innocently on her loving Father’s lap. She sits, chatting, singing, questioning, and clapping her hands. Other times she is quiet with her head against her Daddy’s chest. In his lap, she feels secure, happy, content and loved. Nothing can harm her here. Next to him, she feels she could do anything. He loves her the way she is and even delights in her. Her Daddy wants her to express the way she is made to him and to the world. In his arms all fears subside, because she knows his love holds her. She knows he wants her good and will not let her go. In his lap, danger, angry people, hurtful and critical voices subside because His love is what matters and comforts her. Because she is in her Daddy’s arms, this is where she is found – in His love. He loved her first. She can’t help but want to be next to him, in her Daddy’s love.
When I am here, I don’t worry much about tomorrow or what others think. I desire to be small in His arms rather than being first or being noticed. In God’s love is the best place for me to be. It also makes me want to tell others about this Father of mine.
To be found in the love of God
My quest has led me straight into my Father in heaven’s arms. This is where I want to be found. If you are “found” in something else, this is what keeps or holds you. You are inside of it. It even defines or redefines you. It is similar with the love of God. To be found in the love of God, is what holds me, keeps me, and defines me. Why is this so important?
With Him, I feel content. Let me explain. To be found in His love is to know He holds me and is not going to let me fall. He does not want evil for me, to humiliate me or wish my downfall. He loves me and wants very good for me. It is to have One lovingly lead me. He is with me and will not lead me astray. His path is loving and good. I do not have to worry about tomorrow. Along this path, He grows me over time. It is not just a quick fix, but His love allows me to discover Him along the way. As I discover Him, I see Him and His love more clearly.
With Him, I can love others. To be found in the love of God is to feel complete in Him. Others’ concerns about me or possible fears are not as loud in my thoughts. His voice becomes a lot stronger. It is also a place to let others be first, and to be the least. His love gives, so I can give and not take success from others. His love defines me. It is to “be me.” He created me–my personality and gifting. He made me and loves me. It is to let others also be who He made them to be. There is no need for comparison. I have much more to give away.
Experiencing it deeply, overflowing it to others
Of course, I think we all want to know and experience the love of God more deeply. The love of God is vast and wide (see “Standing in a sea of flowers“). I will spend my whole life discovering it. Experiencing it compels me to want to spend more time dwelling on it and communicating it. As I am held in the love of God, it changes me and those around me. The quest keeps going and I keep discovering new things (and rediscovering old things). I think if we stop, we discover His love affects everything.
Because of the love of God (some things recently I discovered in my love quest):
I slowed down for a bike ride with my son, enjoying the cooler parts of the summer day, which will soon pass.
I listened to the checker at the grocery store and asked a question.
I clapped my hands, sang a song and gave thanks.
I said, “I am sorry,” to my husband, my son, my other son, my other son and my other son!
I sat down with an elderly person and talked with them.
I observed a bee working
I met a new neighbor.
I played the piano.
I fed some turtles.
I talked with a friend about God’s love for them.
I looked at my gifting and personality and thanked God.
I felt sorrow over so many hurts and devastations in the world.
I cried with a friend.
I paused in the grass, gazing up a tall tree, and marveled.
…all because of the love of God. It is His love. In His love I am free. I can slow down and enjoy His creation. I can give to others. I will keep growing in this all the days of my life. Who knows 10 years from now, I will have new discoveries from being with my Father. I hope and think I will enjoy and grow in the Father’s love for a long, long time. Quests are arduous and challenging usually, but I think this one is worth it.
If this was helpful, think about sharing it with a friend or two.
Think about this: what would it look like for you if you had a Father who was always good, always loving, and always wanting your best? Imagine sitting on His lap, and being with Him. What would that be like for you?
Make your own list (like the one above). This is not a list of what “I” have done, but of God’s love in me and through me!
Take time with a friend to discuss the love of God. Where are you personally in this love quest?
Who is one person you know who would benefit from hearing about what the love of God is like?