Though some deny it, it really is easy to say those three little words that have such profound impact when spoken from your heart:
I love you.
(Or those OTHER three small words one spouse longs to hear from the other, “I was wrong.”)
We talk about loving our spouse and our children in the same context of loving pizza or chocolate or sports. Confusing, isn’t it? But hidden under this fabric of many loves there lies an unspoken, somewhat sinister love. . . the love that hinges on “if” or “as long as.”
I love my job – if it pays well (or provides recognition or…promotion).
I love my spouse – as long as they fulfill my needs.
I love my children – as long as they obey.
I love my friends – as long as they agree with me.
I love my life – as long as I have my health, financial security, family (the list goes on).
I love God – as long as he blesses my life.
When we hinge our happiness and sense of purpose and love on an “if” or “as long as,” we’re admitting to a love for something that is greater than what we profess.
You all know from my 3+ year battle, the road ahead for any patient with acute Leukemia is an extremely difficult one: physically, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, and spiritually. More things are given up than desired and yet some new wonderful things can be picked up in the process. There is always eternal hope for those who love the Lord. The encouragement, prayers, and love of family and friends makes all the difference.
Cancer has a way of stripping away the temporal things that we let become our identity. As I’ve said before, we don’t get to choose what suffering comes knocking at our door but we do get to choose how we answer it. Be it driving, a certain form of communicating, eating and enjoying certain foods, or dealing with pain and sorrow, we get to choose what/who defines who we are. And in the end, our response determines how much we love and trust God above all else.
Cancer is not who I am. It defines my circumstances but it doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define who God is or who I am in his sight. The same can be true for you. Whatever identity you’ve lost through an unexpected and painful turn in the road also provides the opportunity to discover your true identity – what never changes regardless of the difficulty you face. We can choose to see each problem as an opportunity to trust God and to seek his blessing found only on the road of sorrow, never on the fast lane in the highway of a busy and productive life. In losing the world and even the life we know, we gain Jesus.
Things or circumstances don’t have to define who you are. Not bad things. Not even good things. As we discipline ourselves to keep focused, our eyes on the goal, we stay on track, our course unshaken by the life tremors which threaten to knock us down.
It is only in discovering our true identity that we find real peace in life. It’s there we experience peace in the storm, joy in the sorrow, comfort amidst pain, a friend when you are lonely, hope in despair, light in the darkness, and grace – amazing grace – when you realize his grace and power is all you have and all you really need.
Despite the let downs and disappointments and feelings that I could be so much better, more effective and productive, I love who I really am – a redeemed and treasured child of God, heir to his kingdom, and seen without blemish because Jesus alone has covered all my blemishes with his grace.
“I love who I really am. My true and full identify is in my personal relationship with Jesus.”
Is that your pronouncement of faith and joy in light of even your darkest moments?