I have an extremely difficult time feeling loved. I think that’s almost the opposite of what someone who has observed my life would think. I was born into a family that centers their life on Jesus. One of the key phrases I’d hear from my parents before a game, test, or application was, “No matter how you do, we still love you.” There’s not a specific moment that comes to mind when I think about why I have such a difficult time understanding God’s love for me. Sure, I’ve been hurt in the past by Christians. I’ve also regrettably been that Christian that has caused hurt, and I know I’ve pushed good people away in my life, but again, to point this perplexity to a distinct moment is impossible because I think it’s much deeper than that.
Love is not just love because there are certain levels of love given and felt by different people. That is why in Greek there are different words for the different kinds of love. The love that I have for my dog is quite different than the love I have for my brother. The love that I have for my coworkers is not all the same love I have for my husband. The unconditional love that God has for us is something that no one, aside from Jesus, can truly give. I honestly do not think we are capable of loving someone unconditionally because I think there is always some sort of unspoken condition that would take away our love for that person, but maybe I’m simply too pessimistic.
I had an awful gym session not too long ago, and maybe a chunk of that was due to eating several better than Little Debbie’s oatmeal cream pies made by my sister-in-law, but some of that was also due to the loud thoughts in my head. I felt so unloved for whatever reason, and my brain was taking that feeling and escalating me down this cycle of unwanted thoughts and convincing reasons as to why I do not deserve to be loved, do you see how that works? Do you see how easy it is for us to be convinced by our feelings?
As I was driving home, with tears in my eyes, I heard within the mess of thoughts God say, “But, I love you. I love you so much, Kira.” The ways we react to things tell us a lot about ourselves because immediately after, I tried to persuade God that He shouldn’t love me. There is something there that I think is quite relatable, even for those who do not believe in Jesus. Let me explain.
It’s actually reasonable for me to feel unloved or rather to push away love. Naturalism is the belief that everything in the universe is purely physical and anything that we cannot explain now, we just do not have the answer yet. Naturalism proclaims that we are here because we happen to be here, and by definition, we have no purpose. The vast majority of naturalists also believe in both macroevolution and microevolution which ironically points to people having a purpose. But that aside, through this lens, love does not make sense. If it’s about the survival of the fittest, we’re called to live selfishly. That means we are only looking to benefit ourselves. If we are to “love” someone, I would think that it would only be for selfish gain according to this worldview. Unconditional love should not even be considered. Yet we have this deep desire to love and to be loved. Who can explain it?
This is a reason why romance movies do so well. This is one reason why we always throw out “love” with ethics and morals. Nobody wants to be on the side that seems “unloving,” right? We express and receive love differently, but I would argue that most, if not all, are looking to do what is loving. I believe this is why parenting looks different for each family.
We have this deep desire to be loved and it so happens to beautifully line up with the Christian worldview. We want to be fully known and fully loved. We want to experience love, but maybe you’re like me and you think that if someone knew the real you, they wouldn’t love you. I often think I’m loved as long as I’m reliable. I reflect on my childhood and growing up as the oldest child. I thought I could be capable of receiving love as long as I was there for them, able to provide for them, and willing to do what it takes to protect them. I think about my friendship history and it always seemed like I could be capable of receiving love as long as I was a good friend to them and as long as I did not make too many or too big of mistakes. I’m capable of being loved as long as I’m good enough. I think that’s an easy mindset to fall into.
To be good enough implies that who we are as we are is not good enough. It takes effort for us to fit into our definition of a “good person.” It’s the good parts of us that we do not mind people seeing. Now, I must give credit where credit is due and I think this generation does a much better job at authenticity than the previous. I’ve seen more movies correctly portray the severity of mental health and I’ve seen more YouTubers sit in front of a camera and share the lows of their lives, and I think that’s a good thing. That is part of the reason why I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts online, but if I’m honest, though it’s one step closer, we are not fully known. There are parts of that in which they hold back, I hold back, and you hold back. For example, I’m okay with people hearing about my doubts, but in no way would I share with you some of the thoughts I’ve had when I’m driving home from work as Waze alerts me there’s a 28-minute delay. I’m okay with people hearing about the way I think about myself as long as it’s filtered. There are parts that I hide because I do not want you to know me fully. If you fully knew me, you couldn’t love me. You wouldn’t. We are not inclined to love one another unconditionally. So how are we supposed to fulfill this deep desire?
And listen, I’m not encouraging that everyone is supposed to be one hundred percent themselves with everyone, no, I think that’s quite dangerous. There’s a good reason that my husband knows something about me that my friend doesn’t. It would be inappropriate for my neighbor to know everything about me that my sister knows. We are called to protect our hearts. But my point is it makes sense to see ourselves as unlovable based on what we know about ourselves.
We know that we’re imperfect. We know that we’re flawed. Personally, if someone heard every thought I’ve ever had, I’m convinced cancel culture would have kicked me off of Twitter by now. I would guess that you can also relate. We know that at our core, we are all pretty messed up and it’s because we were born with a sinful nature. That is why we’re inherently selfish. That is why I have this tendency to hoard money instead of giving. That is why I have this temptation to lie to make myself look better than I am. That is why I unwisely and unfairly have held my friends to unreasonable expectations in the past. I’m not a good person, and this does not justify anything that I do, but it explains why we are the way that we are. I am capable of harming myself and others. That’s a terrifying thought.
Knowing who I am and the evil I am capable of, it’s no wonder why it’s difficult to feel loved. Who could possibly love me if they knew everything I have ever thought, felt, or acted on? We have this dilemma of wanting to be loved for who we are yet we know that at our core we’re not great people. This is where Jesus meets us.
God, the Creator of the Universe, created you and me. He did not create us as sinners, but we are sinners by the result of a fallen world. We know this from the book of Genesis. God, the omnipotent and omniscient King of the world, knows every one of us by name. He knows us fully and loves us unconditionally. He knows everything about you, even the parts you hope to keep hidden as long as you live, yet He still calls You by your name. I am bewildered by God’s love for me. How could you possibly love a sinner like me, O Lord? It does not make sense, and that is a sensible response.
He loves me. He loves me so much that He died on the cross for my sins. He loves me so much that even knowing everything about my past, present, and future, He still did what He did. The good news of the gospel, my non-Christian friend, is that Jesus loves you more than you could imagine. He knows you and loves you anyway. He knows you and Jesus paid the penalty for your sins regardless. This is a beautiful truth that the Christian clings to. Even in my moments of doubt, I am met with Scripture. I am met with The Truth. Jesus loves me even when I am unlovable. Jesus calls me by my name even when I feel unworthy. Who could fulfill our need to be fully known and fully loved? Jesus and only Jesus can do this.
Jesus loves you. These three words have the power to transform everything about the way you see this life. Naturalism cannot explain our longings, but the Christian worldview can. We want to love and be loved, and the Origin of Love is Jesus. We seek truth, and the Origin of Truth is Jesus. We seek identity, and the One who gives us identity is Jesus. You see, according to naturalism, we are here because a bunch of atoms got together ever so perfectly to create this world, but aside from that, we have no purpose. That’s quite inconvenient according to this worldview, but could I introduce you to the Christian worldview? The Author of the Universe created you on purpose and for purpose. His name is Jesus and He loves you more than you can fathom.