One of the foundations of our hearts is a desire to give love and receive love. We were made in the image of God and, though we are corrupted, we were created with the same longing to love and be loved that makes up so much of who God is.
God has always existed in a relationship of love with Himself in the Trinity, and when He created us, it was for the purpose of existing in a relationship of love with Him and with each other. It’s what we were made for.
So what makes us afraid of love? It’s the same thing that has wounded God’s heart: The sinfulness of man. Each of us has sought to give our love to someone only to have it unreturned, taken advantage of, or betrayed.
Often we are betrayed by ourselves, allowing what we thought was our expression and reception of love to be twisted into a sweet looking poison that destroys our own soul. So we respond by keeping our love to ourselves and building walls to keep people at a "safe" distance.
We live by rules and programs, preferring to exist in legalism. Our relationships consist of distant screen names on the internet, instead of faces in our homes. We make sure that we don’t show our friends we see in person our weaknesses or allow ourselves to depend on them.
We isolate ourselves from having to give any of our own heart away and protect ourselves from ever being in a position where someone can hurt us. We respond by doing what we were not created for: Existing outside of love.
God has been wounded too. He created us to be able to express His love to us and to receive our love, and we betrayed Him. The story of the Bible is the story of God’s pursuit of the people He loves and longs to be loved by.
The prophets tell us better than anywhere else in the Bible how He responded to our betrayal. The prophet Hosea presents us with the most vivid display of our betrayal of God when God tells Hosea to marry a whore as a living example of our relationship with Him. Yet God tells him to chase after her and bring her back. God gives us everything and loves us, yet we go chasing off after other lovers.
We pursue money, fame, exciting thrills, a bigger house and more toys. God wants to give us so much more, Himself and the perfect creation He made for us to enjoy, and we continue to betray Him. Yet God chases after use to restore us to Himself.
The love we were meant to experience has been broken. Many of us try to stop loving and keep others from loving us. But because God is love, that approach causes us to move farther and farther from whom God meant us to be. We become less and less like God.
How did God respond? He responded by first doing the one thing that we can’t do; He paid the price of betrayal so that all relationships could be made right again. God loved more, He loved in a reckless and even more passionate way than He did before. God’s love is what healed the betrayal. That’s how we seek healing for our broken hearts, by loving more. We come together with our brothers and sisters, and we learn what it means to love one another.
Our healing begins when God’s children open themselves up to love God and to love each other with everything we are. I’m still searching for what that looks like. I pray each day to know what it means to love and to be loved, not as an intellectual ascent but as something I can experience in every day life.
There are no formulas or programs to learning how to love; it is something that comes from the Holy Spirit living inside of us as we live in relationships with other broken people. We are all still corrupted by our human nature; we will continue to wound each other. However, God has already paid the price of betrayal and has given us His ability to love.
It is a love that isn’t based on what we have or haven’t done. It is a love that is based on who God is and His love for each of us. As each of us seeks to truly love one another we become more like God, we find healing for our broken hearts, and we then begin to discover who we were made to be.