Let’s just jump right into this: cheesy country love songs. How awesome are those? Sappy; tugs at your heart-strings, makes you fall in love with everything but the kitchen sink. They’re the best. George Straight, Alabama. Just thinking about it makes me want to go chew on a giant blade of grass.
I heard a particularly random one the other day by Josh Gracin called “Big Brass Bed.” It’s about this guy who is begging this girl to stay with him for, like, ever. In the video, the bed is neither big nor brass, but the gist is this: Dude is absolutely longing for this girl to spend some time with him. It’s breaking his heart that she is leaving to go run errands or whatever. His love for her is totes obvious. (P.S. I love saying “totes”, it’s my new favorite.)
It’s a timeless tale. I can’t help but totally dig the song and think back to the days when I was young and in love–or wanted to be in love–or just wanted so desperately for someone to love me. Boyfriend after boyfriend–they all played the same old sappy country love songs on the radios in their crappy trucks, and for a minute it was easy to believe that I was loved just as truly and fiercely as the actual songwriters must have loved their girlfriends.
Rarely was that the actual case, because guess what? Those boyfriends I had turned out to be mere mortals, who were usually just as fickle and imperfect and wrapped up in the moment as I was. Dates ended and I would feel more alone and unloved than ever.
I’ve always found it so easy to believe that perfect love could come from an imperfect person. That some lucky boy would one day provide me with the kind of unconditional adoration and undying loyalty I had always heard about in those cheesy country love songs, or had seen in romantic movies, or read about in love stories. Over time I guess I got a little jaded, at least temporarily, and when I met Caleb, I had my feet on the ground.
But it didn’t take long for me to lose my head again–boom! Just one song, and I was a big ole can of crazy, loving that man with all the intensity of a lace-clad Lionel Ritchie on crack cocaine at a Valentine’s Day wedding. Did he love me back in that same way? I don’t think it would have been humanly possible. I wanted him to, and so I looked for subtle proof in his actions. For example:
- Movie night with my sweetie–yay! Caleb said I could pick–and he gave me the choice between “Snatch” and “Blow”. Isn’t he sweet? He must love me.
- Woo-hoo! Caleb got me a black visor. From Wal-Mart. Still in the plastic bag. With the price tag still attached. Unwrapped. For my birthday. It’s the thought that counts; he loves me!
Caleb has never been widely known as the most romantic of souls.
My point is this: I had no trouble looking for signs and clues and believing that I was loved by Caleb, who’s just a man, bless his heart. Believing and knowing in my heart that God loves me? For some reason that’s always been a challenge.
But here’s a fun fact about God and Toni: His communication to me is rarely subtle. Or maybe I just don’t hear the quiet, gentle responses; smacking over the backside of my head gets my attention. When I ask a question, I get an answer. When I want courage, I get the opportunity to be brave. When I whine about one problem, I’m presented with a way more important problem. I have no choice but to believe that He’s looking after me. Because He freaking loves me. Like, so much it hurts His heart when I pull away.
If anyone should love me, it’s Jesus, right? He literally made me. God–who created me, who created the world for me to live in–loves me, with such a powerful and perfect love. I can’t even fathom it…it’s unfathomable…it’s without fathom.
Jesus–He just longs for me. He was willing to literally die for me, even though He knew I would still sin, that I would occasionally stray.
He loves me more than any lameballs country song could express, though at times I struggle with the why since from my human standpoint, He had nothing to gain from saving and loving my piddly little soul. He took care of me. He gave me a loving family and friends. He watches over me. He forgives me when I constantly mess up. He encourages me. If I’m listening, I can hear Him speaking to me. It’s the best sound.
That’s what Jesus wants. From the bottom of His heart, He wants us to stay with Him. He wants our attention. He wants more time, more talking. Don’t go; wherever you think you have to be can wait. And all He wants is for me–for us–to stay with Him. “Just stay with me. Tell me everything. All that stuff from your past? Clean slate and stuff. We’re good. I love you. Don’t go. Why would you leave? It’s awesome here where I am at. There’s no better place. You’ll be alright, as long as you stay with me.”
It’s not all about going to Heaven when we die. It’s about living out our life on Earth as we were always meant to. If we not only accept love but also seek it out from regular old people who are no better than we are, why do we find it so difficult to receive God’s love? We know love–it’s everything good, everything perfect. We need it; we crave it–and God’s love is readily available right here, right now, and He absolutely longs to share it with us.