Stories: like the world is not safe, that love is a small, dark cage, like I am not deserving of the love they put on a shelf and label healthy and good.
I live from these stories, from the one main idea that love is not safe and good. I live them out, carry them into every relationship. I wield my fears like a battle axe, locking myself away like a princess in the tower because I am so deathly afraid of being free.
What would happen if I believed love was good and safe? What would happen if I lived from a place of unconditional love rather than unconditional fear, regret and shame? What if the story I marched into every relationship, every moment, was one of love rather than one of being afraid?
My head spins with possibilities of being hurt, being left, being abandoned. This is all I know of love, and the idea of this love being the story I tell and live out feels unsafe, dangerous.
But what would happen if I stepped out on a limb and believed there is a love greater than what I've been shown?
Recently God has been bringing to mind over and over the story of Hosea. It's one of my favorites. The lover never stops pursuing the one He loves. Wild, relentless, strong, unconditional.
For a while I saw myself as Gomer, Hosea's wife, the one who flees over and over.
I am the one with the scarlet letter, with the dirty hands and multitude of scars.
But when I look at the story this way, I miss a big part of the story.
When I look at it through my lenses I see a story of Gomer fleeing over and over, and Hosea, exhausted and fed up, going once again to win her back. I look at it the same way I look at all my relationships, all my circumstances. I've messed up too much, love is an obligation.
But the story isn't about what I know of love. It isn't about Gomer's failing, or even Hosea's pursuit of her. It is a love letter between God and the people He loves.
It is God's love letter for me. And it encourages me to drop my stories, set down my lenses and see what's really there.
Not a man fed up and exhausted by the fleeing of his lover but of a man so consumed with love for this individual that nothing can tear them apart.
An unconditional love, a love that never runs out, a love where there is always more, a love that is kind and deep and wide and forever.
This is the love I am challenged to believe in. Not a love that fails but a love that frees. Not a love that hurts and scars and ends when I mess up but a love where there is always more, where it becomes a happily ever after and after and after and after and there is no way to reach the limit. A love that pursues, that yearns for, that desires, that doesn't care how much you've failed because love is bigger than all of that. Love covers and wipes clean and says "I want you, right now, just as you are."
This is the love I am asked to believe in. Instead of letting my stories of what love is define me and hold me captive, I am asked to make room for the stories of a love that frees.