We all long for it. Every woman does, even Christian women. Articles have been written about it. Bookshelves in Christian and secular bookstores are filled to capacity with books on how to be fulfilled, how to find “it.” We buy these books and devour them looking for answers, we go to classes based on these and other equally eloquent books but we come away from those classes more discontented than ever before. We strive harder by working harder in our careers and volunteering for our church and other charitable organizations. That doesn’t work either. I don’t think most of us even know what we’re striving for. We just know we’re disappointed when we don’t find “it.”
We read love stories and watch chic flicks. Our eyes widen as the man and woman come together in a passionate embrace and kiss. If our eyes are the windows to our soul, then they are a dead give-away as our heart cries out, “I WANT THAT!” Immediately the guilt that we carry around like a backpack intensifies as we look at our significant other and remind ourselves again how we are so very blessed. “He’s good to me and the kids. He provides for us. He’s dependable and safe and solid.” Even though dependable, safe and solid is good, it’s not what we are looking for, or even what we want. We want passion and romance. We want to be desired and desirable. We want to be beautiful. And we want to be pursued.
I think now is the time to remind ourselves that those passionate embraces and kisses in the chic flicks are just two people acting. Those romance novels (come on now – admit it – you have read them) are stories that have been created in someone’s mind with the hope of filling that empty space we all have. (No criticism intended here as I write Christian romance stories myself.) Those love stories are just that – stories. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Problem arises. Boy and girl break up. Boy and girl make up (now there’s a surprise). Boy and girl live happily ever after in a wonderfully passionate and perfect relationship. Over time, if we watch enough romantic movies and read enough romance novels, we believe that is reality. Not the 9-5 job, home-to-cook-dinner, do laundry, check homework, get kids’ baths, etc., which becomes to us the drudgery of our true life. These movies and books, TV shows and soap operas make us long even more for that fulfillment that eludes us. In turn, we become vulnerable.
I am addicted to a reality show on TLC called “What Not to Wear.” There is not one woman in America who would not give up her firstborn to be on that show. Oh, she’ll deny it, of course, but given the opportunity, she’d be in front of that 360-degree mirror in a New York minute! No woman in her right mind would pass up the opportunity for a brand new $5000 wardrobe that has been selected by professionals, a sexy new haircut and to-die-for makeup job. Why? Why does this appeal to every woman from 10 years old to 100?
Many of us do the same thing with the latest fashion magazines. We pour over every picture of every perfect size 8 model wondering why we can’t look just like her. Never mind that she has been airbrushed to perfection. Those dark circles and bags under her eyes have been obliterated. The zits have been zapped. The frizzes have been tamed with the wonder of the airbrush. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because not only do we want to feel beautiful, we want to BE beautiful. We want others to see us as beautiful. We think to ourselves “If he (fill in your significant other’s name here) thinks I’m beautiful, he will love me more…….meet my needs……… make me happy……………… fill this void.” So what are we missing in our lives that causes us to have this constant longing to be loved, pursued, romanced? Why can’t we get that from our husband or boyfriend?
This void - - this empty place in our heart - - is bigger than man. Our husband or boyfriend can’t fill this void no matter how hard they try. Our parents can’t fill it. Neither can our best girlfriends. Only God can fill it because it is God-shaped and God-sized. God wants each of us to be dependent solely upon Him for our fulfillment, for our happiness and for our completeness.
So now we know Who can fill the void. Our mind understands, even accepts, this fact. But our heart doesn’t. In other words, we don’t really believe it. We don’t believe that God loves us with an everlasting, unconditional love. Yet that is a promise for all of us found in Jeremiah 31:3. He tells us in the book of Song of Solomon that one look from us steals His heart. One translation says “one look from us ravishes His heart.” 1 Ravish means “to overwhelm somebody with deep and pleasurable feelings or emotions.” But we cannot believe He feels that way about us. We can believe He feels that way about other women (and men too, of course)! After all, they never miss women’s meetings at church. They sing in the choir, and teach a Sunday school class. They head up the church’s local nursing home ministry. They visit the sick and take home-cooked meals to them. They home-school their children. All of this while designing and making all of their Christmas decorations and gifts. They are the Super Women of Christianity. We tell ourselves we do not want to be those women. (Well, okay. Maybe just a little.) We just want to be loved. Desired. Beautiful. Pursued. And we are. So why can’t we believe it and receive it?
I believe that we have unknowingly and unwittingly allowed the enemy access to our heart and mind in this area. You may have a hard time buying into that, but hear me out. We have been manipulated by Satan into comparing ourselves to air-brushed perfection and Super Women of Christianity. We look at them and say to ourselves “Oh, I could never be that gorgeous” or “I could never be like them.” We get further involved in life – taking care of kids, elderly parents, home, job, friends, this list could go on. We let our needs of being pursued and desired die a slow death and we quietly bury them. And the enemy has us right where he wants us- defeated, disillusioned and depressed.
We are afraid that if people knew us – really knew us – and what we had done and said in the past, they would be horrified. John Eldredge says in his book, Sacred Romance “we long to be known and we fear it like nothing else. Most people live with a subtle dread that one day they will be discovered for who they really are and the world will be appalled.” We have this same fear with God. We believe that if He knew all we had done, He would want nothing to do with us. Breaking News: He already knows and He loves us still. Unconditionally, relentlessly, passionately. He sees all our flaws, blemishes and warts. And loves us anyway. “But you don’t know what I’ve done,” you think. No, but God does. And it doesn’t even matter – He loves you anyway! Remember that verse from Jeremiah that I referred to earlier? “For I know the plans I have for you……….” God’s plan for you and me has always been that He would fill the void in your life. Knowing how much He loves you and accepting that love opens the way for you to realize and fulfill the dreams and visions God has placed within you.
There’s the key. Accepting God’s love. “How?” you ask. “How can I accept His love, knowing the things that I have done against Him?” First, you must remember that when you sinned, God’s love for you never changed, even then. He did not condone the sin, but neither did He condemn you. Second, His word says that “when you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” 2 When God forgives you of your sin, He never, ever remembers them again. Third, if you are a believer in Christ, you accepted Him by faith. You do the same thing with His love for you. You begin every day to accept His love by faith until there is such a reality of His love in your life that His love begins to spill over from you to others.
Wouldn’t you relish living the experience of His love every day? Everlasting love. Unconditional love. He pursues us and draws us to Him every day with a passionate and relentless love that only He can give us. Open your heart and receive His love, allowing Him to fill that void in your life once and for all.
1 New King James Version
2 1 John 1:9
© 2009 Edwina E. Cowgill