There are people who love me in this world. Who love me and care about me. They see me, they have a relationship with me, and they spend time with me. They are my friends, they are my family, and they are the people that surround me. They see the best parts about me and they love me. We all don’t say it enough to each other so it can often go unspoken, but we care about each other. Love can mean many things, so it is the way we are loved that shows how we are cared for.
Loved BECAUSE of my strengths, BECAUSE of the person I show them I am. BECAUSE of the person they see when they are with me. BECAUSE of the me with make-up on my face, and a cute outfit and shoes that make me look just a little taller than I actually am. BECAUSE of the me I want to be, the me that I wish I was fully, the me full of strengths and void of hurt, pain, and broken pieces. They love me BECAUSE they see great things from me.
BUT…there are others, and this bunch is a smaller few. The list changes when I tell you that I have a lot of people that love me BECAUSE, but few that truly love me IN SPITE OF.
There are plenty of hallmark cards that say, “I love you BECAUSE…”, but few on the shelf that say, “I love you IN SPITE OF…”.
To be loved IN SPITE OF my failings, IN SPITE OF my face without make-up on, IN SPITE OF my attitude on my worst day, IN SPITE OF my house being a complete mess, IN SPITE OF a season of my life where I don’t have it all together. Those people love me, like truly do. I know lessons now that have taught me the difference between what it means to be loved BECAUSE of and to be loved IN SPITE OF.
The people that love me IN SPITE OF show me a love I don’t deserve, a caring heart for a reckless soul, a tender spirit for this wandering sinner, and a genuine support when others quickly turn away.
There is beauty in being loved IN SPITE OF. I have never truly known it until now as a full me gets unfolded before them. A me with a history with sad stories, a me with a sense of worth that often gets defined by the world, a me with a doubting heart about who my friends are, a me that is ashamed to be who I am, a me that feels alone and misunderstood even in the most crowded of rooms. They love that broken girl. I never thought it was possible.
Sometimes relationships can feel like those islands in the middle of the mall. I feel like I am standing there in the middle of a room trying to get people to stop BECAUSE of what I have to offer. “Try this”, “don’t pass this up”, “this could be the thing you have been missing your entire life”. How desperate and sad, and not defined by what the beauty of a relationship can bring.
Instead I want to grow. I want to go from a dependency from the people around me and into a boldness of standing in my little shop in the middle of the mall and seeing if a couple people walk by and want to stop IN SPITE OF the mess they see.
It is the people that can see potential in the wholeness of a person that I want close by my side. It may even create an environment where they show me their IN SPITE OF’s and I can love them through theirs. This is true beauty in love. This is loving our kids when they mess up, but expecting something better from them while never leaving their side.
Love IN SPITE OF, is love at its finest, love at its peak.
If you’re ready for what comes next, whether you understand Jesus or not, or however you were taught to view God as, this is the real thing. This is the real Jesus. The Jesus that came not because he was so proud of us that he wanted to walk with us on earth, but the God that loved us so much that IN SPITE OF what he saw, He sent His son because He wanted us to walk with Him in glory.
Have you ever been loved like that?
You are, and I am. Just for a moment, let your body feel it. Whether or not you have ever had that feeling on earth, it is real. There is a God that loves me! That stops as I stand in the middle of the mall while I show everyone the reasons BECAUSE they should love me, and He ends up stopping me in my tracks to show me what He has to offer. A love IN SPITE OF the things not on display at the store for everyone to see. That girl, He loves her.
Today, this is my strength. Not coming from myself, not coming from what I can offer, and not coming from who I portray today. Today my strength comes knowing I am loved IN SPITE OF, and that I have a God who sees my IN SPITE OF’s and knows He can do something with them. This is the alive Gospel message meant for me, and also meant for you. Let’s stretch it out today to extend love to others IN SPITE OF everything AND just BECAUSE you and I deserve to know we are loved.
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