14 Sep I NEED SOME HUGS AND LOVE
This spring, we had the privilege of grossly overstaying our welcome with one of my nearest and dearest in Austin, Texas. We descended on her family for eight days, and had a blast doing life together with three toddlers between us. We decided that those sister wives might be on to something because having two mamas in one household has quite a few advantages. One evening, many hours after we put the girls to bed, we heard a tiny voice call out, “Mama? I need some hugs and love.” Lindsey said, “Ok sweetie, you can have some hugs and love,” and went in to snuggle her sweet baby.
Ever since then, that phrase has stuck with me: I need some hugs and love. You know what? We all need some hugs and love! And you know who we should ask? Jesus. He specializes in hugs and love and he’s so happy when we ask. It’s ok to sit in his presence and say, “I need some hugs and love.”
Last month, I had a big meeting where I needed to put myself out there. I put myself out there and it was, shall we say, tepidly received. I kept it together in the meeting, a big fake smile plastered on my face. Then I hightailed it up to my hotel room, drew the hottest bath the faucet would allow, and plunged into the foamy water intent on indulging in some quality escapism. After a brief interlude with a historical fiction novel, I was ready to talk to God about my feelings.
“Lord,” I said, “I need some hugs and love. That’s all. I just need you to tell me that you love me, that you see me, and that you’re in this crazy thing I feel like you’re asking me to do.”
As I soaked in the hot water, I let the waves of emotion roll over me, feeling each swell of embarrassment, doubt, worry, and fear. The ugly feelings started to ebb and I found bits of Scripture underneath, anchors of truth the Lord had tucked away in my heart in our daily time together over the years. Broken phrases began to flit across my mind, the verses a soothing balm on my bruised heart and (let’s be honest) pride. The Lord reminded me that he loves me so dearly. He bade me to recollect all his glorious promises, to dwell upon the inheritance that is mine through the gift of his salvation. He said, through the promises of his Word, “I got you, girl.”
I used to think that my desire to feel special and loved was a faulty and to be eradicated like other sinful longings. I believed that wanting to feel captivating or smart or funny or beautiful was a misguided pride thing that I needed to move past. No. Our desire for love isn’t something we need to move past. What we need to do is redirect that ardent desire for love towards our Creator.
When I find myself desiring the approval of others, I realize that what I’m really longing for is the delight of my Heavenly Father. I’ve lost my way a little and turned my heart toward other, lesser gods, seeking fulfillment in temporal accomplishments which fail to satisfy.
My true longing is for Jesus to delight in me, and thankfully, because of his wonderful character, he does. He delights in me, he rejoices over me, and he has paid the ransom for my sin. His love is from everlasting to everlasting toward those who fear him (Psalm 103:17). Even though I know this, I forget to look for his love and start thinking that maybe the world has something to offer my needy love tank. Newsflash: it doesn’t. Success, fame, approval, romantic love, beauty, wealth, and even purpose cannot ever satisfy the deep longing in our souls.
God’s love is the only thing that can satisfy our souls. “Truly, my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62:1). If you’re anything like I was two years ago, you might stop reading, roll your eyes, and go, “Ugh. Another one of those ‘Jesus loves me’ posts.”
It’s kind of one of those posts, but as a lifelong Christian who has spent the majority of her life knowing in her head God loves her but not understanding what it feels like to be loved by God, I’m going to ask you to keep reading.
A few years ago, I started thinking that I’d better do some digging into this concept of feeling loved by God because it sounded pretty important and lots of people talked about it all the time. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my mom on the topic. We were in a parking garage in Takoma, Washington, and as I am wont to do in parking garages, I asked her a deep and probing question about her faith to the effect of, “What is the defining characteristic of your relationship with God?”
Her answer surprised me. She said, “I’ve always felt so incredibly loved by God. Even when I didn’t feel loved or understood by my family, I always felt so loved by God.”
As she talked, I thought, “Huh. I don’t feel that way at all even though I can objectively say that God has been good to me. I wonder what it feels like to feel loved by God?”
Tentatively, almost apologetically, I started asking for love. I started asking the Lord to help me feel loved by him, because I know his Word says he loves me. “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion” (Isaiah 30:18).
Now, when I have a disheartening meeting, or a royal meltdown, or a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I tell Jesus, “I need some hugs and love.” He never disappoints. In fact, he is delighted when I set my desire for love on him.
P.S. My lovely friend, Lindsey, our Texas hostess extraordinaire, recently became an ambassador with Noonday Collection, an Austin-based, fair-trade jewelry company. Their primary focus is creating economic opportunity for vulnerable people around the world through specialized artisan training. Their mission dovetails perfectly with Molly’s excellent post: Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide. The pieces are absolutely beautiful and make fabulous gifts. If you’re in the market for a beautiful necklace or cuff, I have my eye on this and this.