My husband is a romantic guy. We were in high school the day he asked me to our very first date by tucking a rose under the windshield wiper of my car. In the dark room of his photography class, he would process sweet sayings on picture paper and give them to me at the perfect moment in the hall. When I graduated from high school, his gift to me was an actual well in Africa that he bought to provide water for a village in my honor. Later, he proposed to me while we were skydiving and it ended up on the news.
Can't make this stuff up, guys.
I know, he's like a mythical unicorn-type creature that people say exists, but no one ever really spots one in person. Or the profile on eHarmony that is clearly bogus because no one is that good-looking and THAT good-hearted. Amiright?! I'm not just saying this because he reads every single one of my blogs (🙋 HI HONEY!!). He's fully alive and real and buff and he's all mine (#backoff). With that being said, I'm hoping he never catches on that I married way up. Presently, well past our dating days, he still leaves love notes for me by the coffee pot, and surprises me with trips to see Broadway shows for my birthday. I believe he's God's way of giving me a tangible unconditional love here on earth that I SO desperately long for. Along with his acts of grandeur is a simple thing that is one of my favorite things about my husband. His compliments. To be honest, it's really a love/hate relationship that I have with them. My belly has ballooned to an astronomical, almost impossible-looking size with all three pregnancies. And my husband would still whistle at my waddle or tell me I'm breathtakingly beautiful when I felt 17 months pregnant. As much as I adore his constant display of affection and crave the reminders of him thinking I'm beautiful (what woman doesn't), this is something we bicker about the most.
The problem is that I can't receive a compliment. Every "You look beautiful" or "You amaze me" is met with an eye roll, a "Yeah, right" or a quick dismissal. I verbally and mentally shut him down every single time. In our intimate moments, I apologize for a body that he finds attractive. On a simple day, I over-explain my shortcomings that he finds endearing. What it comes down to is this: There is a part deep down inside of me that can't accept the love that I desire so badly. I simply don't believe the truth - that this man really does love me.
This mentality translates across the board for me, in my friendships and family, and most drastically, with my relationship with God. I've journeyed through my walk as "a believer" for some time now (10ish years... but still feels like I'm a newborn calf on wobbly Christian legs!) and some days I feel like I am at the point of basking in the ALL-CONSUMING love of my savior. But most days I know I'm still rolling my eyes as Jesus tells me His love for me is unending and my worth to Him is immeasurable.
Sure, the concept is awesome. Song of Solomon and Psalm in the Bible hold some of my favorite verses. Those poetic confessions of love speak to me instantly. I highlight them in my Bible, I pin them on Pinterest, and share them on Facebook. It sure seems like I'm fully aware of the love my God has for me. I know Jesus thinks I'm all that and a bag of chips. And not just Fritos, but something special...like Funyuns. That's not lost on me.
The disconnect rears its ugly little head when I enter a room full of people I don't know and I think to myself, "Suck it in, zip it up, and keep it casual because you're too fat, too loud, and too deep." I've denied His love for me for years now as I can't commit to any career He's led me to because I just don't think I'm good enough at what I set out to do. Shoot, every single night as I lay in bed, I reject God's compliment, "You are beautifully and wonderfully made." And instead I tear myself apart from the day's events.
"Why are you the way that you are?! Why did you do this? Why didn't you do that? Why weren't you a better mom, wife, friend, daughter, neighbor, etc. today?"
Because this masterpiece stuff, and accepting God's love, is so tough, it's an ongoing process. It doesn't come naturally to me so I have to choose it every day, over & over again. But that unrelenting chase that God started with my husband just keeps getting stronger and louder. He sent me these three little people, who regardless of how many mistakes I make, still think I hung the moon. He placed me in this group of women that insist that I am valuable, brilliant, and cared for regardless of what I do or don't do. He put me in an imperfect family that puts the fun in dysfunctional 😉, but when it comes down to it, we show up for one another. So as loud as those ugly voices get, God just keeps at me with stronger voices of Love. Slowly through the discomfort, I'm beginning to think maybe He's onto something...
This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.