I learned something today. Well, several things but I’ll try to stay focused here. I started a new book today. ‘Wild Goose Chase’ by Mark Batterson. So far so good. But convicting so far as well. And I just finished reading ‘Radical’ by David Platt. But, I think the greatest book I read today was the Word of God. As I study the life of Jesus, I discover more and more of His character and how fierce, tender and fearless His love is.
Jesus gave all He had because that’s the only way to love. That, I am learning, is the only way to live. What’s the point of life if we’re not all in, ya know?
Hey, I get the fear thing. I’ll use women as an example for my fear. It’s not a secret to anyone who knows me that my first marriage was a trainwreck. For a lot of reasons. After I was divorced, it didn’t take long for the fear to rush in. I know a lot about fear. I’ve lived my whole life in fear of being found out. I hid my hurt, my heart and soul behind a tough guy wall because I was afraid. I was afraid that if people found out who I really was, they wouldn’t like me. I was also deceived. Satan used my fear as a weapon against me to make sure I stayed safely cloistered behind those walls.
See, behind those walls, my heart was hidden. God’s son was hidden behind those walls. The glory that He has brought me to live in and live out was hidden behind those walls. But, back to fear…
So, I was living in fear. What if I fell in love again, what if I got hurt again? I have often said that I do not know if I would emotionally survive another crash like the last one. And so I have lived in fear.
Until I met Jesus. Along this path He has brought me to, I have found healing, purpose, meaning, love, peace…and a voice. So as I’ve journeyed and poured my heart out on paper and in person, I have begun to learn not to fear. Fear paralyzes life, kills it. And fear is unbiblical. After all, He has overcome sin, death and the grave and given that gift freely to me. What have I to fear?
So, He was teaching me that lesson today during my time with Him, speaking His love and strength into my heart, saying “Don’t fear. I am with you. Trust me.” So, I prayed to Him, “I’m sorry for being a coward, Jesus. I’m sorry for holding out on You. I’m sorry for holding out on life and living out of fear. Take my fear away and help me live and love freely.”
Fast forward to tonight. As those who know me know, I’ve been dating someone for awhile now. We agreed when we began dating to take it as it came. The whole idea of “pacing” a relationship kind of seemed dumb. We’ll just move at a pace that is comfortable, right?
God has, over time, put my heart back together and shown me that to love is exactly what He has called me to do. However, being me, I was holding back. You know, putting a lid on this thing, right? But being with Nikki has shown me a lot of things. This is a woman who gets it. Does that make sense? I’m not saying she’s perfect ‘cause she’s not. But she gets it. She’s enjoying fulfilling the role in our relationship as the woman and I’m loving fulfilling the role as the man. Awhile back, as I began to study the Word and redefine what manhood was, I realized there are certain ways we guys are to treat women. See, Nikki is the daughter of God. You men reading this; the woman in your life, be it your mother or wife or girlfriend or daughter or whatever. The woman in your life is the daughter of God.
You had best not forget that. Treat her accordingly.
But, I’m rambling again. So, Nikki has a daughter. Gabi. A beautiful, precocious ball of little girl. Today was Gabi’s birthday. I was at Nikki’s house during bedtime for Gabi. A few minutes after we put Gabi to bed, Nikki and I were sitting on the couch talking and we could hear Gabi crying. She wasn’t bawling her eyes out, just fussy. You folks with kids know what I’m talking about. So, Nikki and I went to check on her. And what I witnessed was a moment of poignant beauty that even now brings me almost to tears.
Nikki crawled in the bed with Gabi. She held her, stroked her arm and soothed her, speaking softly and kissing her gently. I sat on the floor in the doorway of Gabi’s bedroom and fought back tears at the tenderness and vulnerability I was witnessing. And He spoke to me. He whispered to my heart, “This is how I love. I will hold you and speak peace to you. I will kiss your tears away.” I began to pray in worship, in awe at His tenderness. It was a radiant moment that I wish words could do justice to.
So, Gabi finally gets settled in and back to the couch we go. We began to talk of life, our relationship with Christ and each other. I began to share with her how I had gotten this whole live without fear thing today. And then it happened.
I’m an emotional guy…have I mentioned that before?! I don’t even know how it happened but I suddenly heard, coming out of my mouth, “I’m in love with you.” My heart completely stopped beating when I realized what I had just said. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t mean it, I just didn’t mean to say it out loud. I looked into Nikki’s eyes, expecting to see total panic. “Wow, I just told you I was in love with you,” was the next genius thing that came out of my mouth. Then, my heart really stopped because I saw her face.
Nikki had a look on her face of utter contentment and joy. A huge smile came over her face and she said, “I love you too.” And she kissed me. Then my heart officially stopped. Immediately, the deceiver piled on. ‘What are you doing? You barely know this woman, how can you say you love her?’ I reject those insidious whispers of doubt. I have no idea where this is all going but I have a pretty good idea and I know who is controlling it and He’s way smarter than me. And I knew the truth of what had just happened.
I knew, in that moment and hopefully for many other moments to come, I was living without fear. It’s time for me to stop being afraid of life, time to stop being afraid of love. I know it’s going to hurt sometimes. I don’t expect it to be perfect.
But I expect a perfect God to show up and show me how to love perfectly. And He does. Don’t be afraid, dear friends. Stop being so cautious. He calls us forward into a life, an adventure that may be fearful at times. We are going to get hurt sometimes. But, the cost of not loving as He does far outweighs the potential of pain.
And now I can’t stop smiling.