Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I was thinking about a woman I know who left an abusive marriage some years ago.
At first, she said, there was physical abuse, but after counseling that stopped. However, whatever simmered beneath the physical manifestation of anger seemed to always hover near. Intermittent verbal abuse remained; he continued to feel entitled to criticize, mock, and accuse.
In between the good times…
It resurfaced at length in one, last, inexplicable, alcohol-fueled rage in the middle of which she fled. She mourned deeply for a long time yet knew she couldn’t go back.
In reflecting on all that recently, she told me that when the initial emotional and mental storms passed and the F.O.G. of Fear Obligation and Guilt cleared, what remained–and still does–is this: in spite of offering the best love she could to him, flawed as any human attempts to love another will always be, she could never be sure it was received.
There always seemed to be some resistance, even contempt, in certain responses, accusations, and criticisms of his, she said. Things would seem to be going well for a while, but something that angered him (sometimes out of the blue) would surface and, like a slow-acting acid, the cumulative effects corroded her trust…
A length, she wondered if it were even possible anymore to try.
And then…that night…
I compared her experience to teaching my heart out to certain students who enter–and very sadly–also exit my classes with a resistant attitude. A spouse–or teacher–can only offer so much, can only work toward what they hope is their best ability to love or serve another or others. If the effort is not received or if it is rejected–with or without the manifestation of physical abuse in the case of a spouse–it hangs there between the two, and, at length, withers…
As I reflected on my conversation with my friend, I was reminded of God’s love for us through Jesus Christ Who offered–and gave–His all for each of us. But of course, as the Son of God, Jesus’ efforts were not flawed and for us He gave to His literal last drop of blood.
But I think of this small comparison: in His humanity, Jesus also felt the sorrow, the heartache of knowing that there would be those He would not ultimately reach because it is they (we) who must choose Him, choose God’s love in Him on faith and then embark on the relationship, the cross at the crossroads directing the searcher, the heartbroken, and the lost to the greatest love story ever told.
And once we enter a relationship with Him, Jesus then helps us avoid and overcome the slow acid of false teaching, works-based religious systems (and false prophets preaching same), His nail-scarred hands guiding, the Holy Spirit, affirming.
I believe this element of His humanity is reflected in the epigraph, above. Jesus loved–and loves–us hoping we will comprehend this and receive it. For the result is not just a good earthly relationship whether in the home or in the classroom, but an eternal relationship in that place of light and love.
As well as comfort, guidance, and provision here on terra firma.
But how to comprehend?
Ask Him. That is where it all begins.
Here are some affirmations.
In addition to Jesus’ words that began this post, consider:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
And there are oh, so many, many more affirmations in that book (you know the one) infused with His love, provision, and protection*.
Let Him love you today?
Let Him love you today.
He waits near.
And Jesus will never, ever, abuse your love for Him.
*I recommend the Gospel of John for starters.