i am loved

Just a few weeks ago, my friend and boss Kelly called me to ask me a question. She said that she and my other boss/friend, Matt, had been talking about an idea on the way home from Dad's memorial service. She asked if she could start a fundraiser to help me get back to school, to ease the burden of worry, and to ease my workload so I could be with family. She said she wanted the goal to be $10,000. I wanted to say no, because honestly all these thoughts went through my head:

It will be embarrassing because it won't make it to that goal.

Eventually she'll regret how much effort it takes. 

Everyone has problems; people will be annoyed that I get such special treatment. 

It's a bunch of university students. I've tried doing fundraisers before and it's almost impossible. Especially without selling t-shirts or something cool. They won't get anything out of this. 

People will have more important things to do with their money. 

I have struggled with trust for years. In the past year especially, I've been made aware of just how much I don't trust people. I really don't know why; I've never been hurt or betrayed by anyone in a way to cause the assumptions I live with. I think it's more a human dilemma, a result of Satan preaching to us the lie that we are not loved, we are not worthy, we are a bother, or anything like it. I think most of us face it somehow. It might look like this:

Someone says, "You're welcome at my home anytime!" but you assume that deep down, they're thinking, "I'm so glad she's gone and I can have my home to myself."  
Someone gives you a gift, and you assume they just had it lying around and thought it would be good to give you.  
Someone says they like your style, but you assume they really mean that you have a weird style that was noticeable and they thought you might need affirmation because you probably don't get it much.  
Someone writes you a card and says you're an inspiration to them, and you assume they just wanted to say something nice that's not too specific.  
Someone says they're praying for you and you flat out just don't believe it. 
Someone gives you a back rub, and you assume that their hands are tired and they wish they hadn't started and they're never going to offer again. 
Someone says they'd love to hang out with you, but you assume it's just because they feel bad about the circumstances or struggles you're going through, not that they actually want to hang out with you. 

These sound ridiculous, even more ridiculous as I type them out. But I'm typing them out because I want to get this out in the open. I want to figure out why I think this, why so many of us think this.

Why do we think we're not lovable, at least not if people really knew us?

If an almighty, completely holy, self-sufficient God truly loves us, why is it so hard to believe other humans could love us too?

Maybe they're related. Interrelated.

Maybe we have a hard time believing people love us because we have a hard time believing God loves us. Or maybe we struggle believing God loves us because we doubt it in people. More on that later.

I've started seeing how this disbelief can be broken, at least for me. I can think back to moments where I knew I was loved, really loved. A lot of them are little things, but the common denominator is that they are unnecessary, uncalled-for, above-and-beyond, nonessential. Like asking me to come over, just out of the blue. Or swooping in and paying for my ice cream even though I was already handing them my money. Or sending a care package. Or flying to Oregon on a moment's notice. Or remembering what I like to eat. Or saying kind things about me to someone else when they don't know I can hear them. Or initiating a text. Or donating to me and my family even when we'd never have known if you hadn't.

All along the process of this fundraiser, I've been making excuses in the back of my head. When Kelly said it was launched, I was almost embarrassed to check it because I thought probably no one had donated yet, maybe just $10 or something. It was already to $700, most of it from one dear family. I wanted to tell Kelly that it was incredible, but that if it only got to $1000, that would be fine, I'd be grateful anyway. Then someone anonymously donated $1000. After just a couple weeks, we had reached $10,000 between the online fundraiser and private donations people had given me. I wanted to tell Kelly we could stop now, we can explain to everyone that even though the website says $7000, we're actually done. But Kelly asked to keep going. She knew my expectations were still low, and she believed that people were really going to do it because they wanted to.

Today, we reached $10,001 on the fundraiser site, plus thousands more in private donations.

Thank you, to so many of you. So, so many.

Thank you because in addition to everything you've given me through finances, you've been an instrument of my heavenly Father to prove that I am loved. Loved beyond my expectations. Loved beyond ten thousand dollars.

No one needed to donate. But you did. And the fact that you were under no obligation means that I cannot make excuses, I have to believe it.

And that love is like God.

God is under no obligation to love me. But He does. He knows that I doubt it, that I am constantly fighting the undercurrent of performance, or trying to earn his favor - trying to make Him proud of me and assuming I cannot go further. And to prove me wrong, to prove His love, Jesus came. If I think that someone buying me ice cream or donating $25 is an act of love, how much more is God Himself dying, dying for me?

It seems as if every time I try to pray lately and I ask God what He wants to say to me, it is always, "I love you." It's like He knows I brush it off, that I don't let it sink in.

I wrote all of this post before going to church this evening, which I just returned from. Every song was about God's unfailing love. It got to the point where I thought, Shouldn't we have some other theology being sung about here other than just how much God loves us? But then I thought that maybe that's just the point we're missing. Maybe that single, foundational truth is the one we need to grasp above all else.

Pray with me:

Oh Father, my Father, I know You love me. You loved me first, You loved me before I ever wanted you, You love me at my best and at my worst, You sing over me and call me your Beloved. I know those words. But oh, I struggle to believe them. Break through my walls, find and fill the empty places that I have not given to You. Show me who You are. You are Love. 


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