I’ve been reading through the book The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter during my quiet times and my faith has been rocked. In a good way. The book is a study on Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothes yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” I’m used to skipping over the first half of the verse and focusing on what these virtues of a believer should be. But Kelly starts at the beginning, really diving into what it means to be God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.
I asked Jesus in my heart at the age of 3. I grew up loving church—excited to go to Sunday school, active in youth group, attended Bible studies, went to a Christian college and then worked in the church. I’ve never been through a season of hating the Bride of Christ even though I’ve seen some very ugly aspects in the humanness of it. But through all of this strong faith-centered life of mine, I’m not sure I’ve ever fully grasped in my heart how passionate God’s love for me is. Or if I ever have, somehow along the way I’ve allowed my mind to mistake that deep, unconditional love for one that is conditional on my actions, or simply forgotten the feel of it.
When this book firmly pointed out that I am chosen, holy and dearly loved I felt my heart breaking, wanting to not only know that God loves me but to truly feel it—and to then have it permeate every aspect of my life. I am realizing that while I am very confident in myself, I am incredibly insecure in how much other people love me. My head knows I am loved—I am told frequently by so many people that they love me. But I have a hard time believing that my husband both loves and likes me. I worry that relationships mean more to me than they do to my friends. I put up barriers and pretend that things are “no big deal” so I can’t set myself up to be hurt in case love is not returned. And even bigger than that, I have a fear in the back of my mind that if I ask God to show me how much He loves me that I will then be placed in a season of trials and removal of those closest to me in order to learn to be content in love from God alone.
I’m not at a conclusion point in grasping in my heart how great God’s love is for me. But I am taking a step forward, following Kelly Minter’s advice to “pray that God would help you see His love and understand it more fully (Matthew 7:7-8).” I am repeating over and over to myself that I put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience because I am chosen, holy and dearly loved. Not that I am chosen holy and dearly loved because I put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I am listening to the song Oh How He Loves Us on repeat and taking to hear the words that He is jealous for me, that His affections for me are great, that His love for me is powerful like a hurricane and I am a tree being bent beneath the weight of it.
I love Kelly’s words, “But what happens when we really get it? When the flower of our hearts begins to unfold under a covenant of love? When we’re not waiting to be leveled but can trust the heart of God? When we can lean into the virtues as freeing and distinguished ways to live life as opposed to confining, legalistic actions that are meant to garner God’s approval? …I have been on a steady pursuit of God’s love for many years, looking for its manifestation in the lives of dynamic believers… And of course, as soon as I write that I have been on a steady pursuit of God’s love, I am keenly aware that His love has been on a steady pursuit of me—before I was even formed in my mother’s womb. …I have prayed that He would help me stop trying to wrangle His love by my effort, that I could take a deep breath and fall back on the immovable truth that His love for me is without condition. And when the sufferings and tragedies of this world seem to yell in the face of such love, I hope for His transcendent presence that doesn’t always explain but never forsakes.”