Last night I was praying, just praising and thanking God for who He is, when I realized that pretty much every trait I was thinking of was actually centered on me. His love for me, His kindness toward me, His patience with me. I stopped and felt selfish; He’s so much bigger than that, so much more than just what He’s done for me! But then that still, small voice spoke up and said, “No, honey. That’s who I am. It is the nature of love to be defined by another.”
It is the nature of love to be defined by another. I assumed I misheard or made it up or something, but I kept thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it and realized…it’s true. It’s like becoming a wife or a mother; suddenly the definition of who you are is “John’s wife” or “Annie’s mother.” Even before that, you’re “Ed and Jacque’s daughter” or “David’s sister.” But love allows that, because love isn’t self-seeking. And it’s true, those descriptions are as good a definition of who you are as any other. And the fact that it’s true is one of the most profound things in the universe.
Flashback. Going to YWAM this summer was, in a way, a last ditch effort. I went to YWAM to help me save my relationship with God, and by extension, save my life. I had been, for years, a bit disappointed and disillusioned with God. If you’ve been following my blog, you know this. But I’d actually come to the point where I was doubting Him. Doubting that He even existed. Plenty of people seemed just fine without Him, and I was beginning to feel like I had missed out because of all the “rules” I had to follow being a Christian. The age-old lies had begun to creep in, but I was always running up against the realization that I had absolutely no idea how to be without Him. I wouldn’t even know who I was apart from God. I wouldn’t know how to live, wouldn’t know how to deal with troubles, where to turn when I was hurt, heck where to turn when I was happy. I faced the very desperate prospect of losing faith in a God I couldn’t live without. I was doubting Him, but I knew if I lost Him it wouldn’t be very long before I went too. I would not have been me without Him. That’s what this means. It is the nature of love to be defined by another. My essence and existence are dependent on Him and my love for Him. Without that, I, my character, the depth of who I am, would cease to exist.
And the crazy, the absolutely INSANE thing, is this is true of God as well. 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is Love. That’s how He chooses to define Himself. And love has to have an object. That means that without us, God as we know Him would not exist. The essence of who He is depends on us, the object of His affection. Last summer I was pretty stunned just to realize how entirely He had set His affection on me, this little nothing hanging out on this speck of a planet. Loves me so much that He, who could have or do anything, chose to go through the agony of losing His son for my sake. Baffling. But this is even a whole new level…He loves me so much that He chooses to define Himself by His relationship with me. God is love. God loves me. That’s who He is. That’s what He does. What do you even do with that except marvel? And praise, and thank, and Love.