Of all the things I’ve been through in life, of all the trials I’ve experienced and pain I’ve felt, the greatest – and probably most deeply embedded – is the feeling of being unloved. Feeling unloved is worse than just the simple lack or absence of love. It’s the retraction of love from those you should be receiving it from because they have found something in you that causes them to deem you unworthy of their love. This is a horrible feeling.
To say it is the worse feeling I’ve felt is a pretty strong statement considering all I’ve been through. My parents split up when I was just three years old. My mom went to prison for 10 years when I was seven. I was raised by my stepmother who, throughout my childhood, often made me feel like she hated and resented me for being an intrusion on her life. My dad was there but not there. He was always working and never made an attempt to connect with us.
Between the ages of 4 and 10, I was sexually molested by an older male cousin. At first, I felt violated but then I felt confused as I started to enjoy it. The attention he gave me when we were exchanging sexual favors made me feel loved. And at that time in my life, that was the only place I ever felt loved. When I lost my virginity to a girl at 15 I found that again. After that, sex and pornography were what I always turned to in order to rid myself of the feeling of being unloved.
Drugs and alcohol were also other outlets I used to rid myself of the feeling of being unloved. The molestation stopped when I was 10 and was replaced with weed and alcohol. Instead of wanting to sneak off to perform sexual deeds my cousin wanted to sneak off to get high and drunk. I didn’t realize it at the time but because of that getting high and drunk made me feel the same way I felt from having sexual intercourse with him – loved. There was no discrimination with pothead and alcoholics. I didn’t have to be good enough to be accepted by them. There was nothing but love between me and my friends when we were getting high and drunk together.
My whole life I’ve listened to people yell at me for the mistakes I’ve made. Tell me I have problems and issues and need help. Withdraw their love from me because they found something in me that caused them to deem me unworthy of their love. It gets really old and tiring after 28 years of it. It’s become very hard to guard my heart against becoming hardened and hateful. You eventually reach a point where you just want to build up your walls of bitterness and lock everyone out. Especially when everyone you let in eventually finds a good enough reason to withdraw their love.
A friend of mine told me the other night, “Stick to what you know rather than what you feel. Jesus Christ is much more to you.” When people tell me I got issues part of me wants to laugh and say, “Duh. Anyone who reads my blog knows that.” But then there is still that other part that gets deeply hurt when people hurl those words at me with their judgment and condemnation. Especially when they come from someone close to me. Someone I’ve openly shared all my secrets with trusting and believing that they loved me enough not to be scared away. But eventually, they’re all scared away.
I am simply too hideous for any form of human love to be strong enough to still love me in spite of my deficiencies. As my own father told me not even six months ago, “Anyone who gets close enough to see your demons gets scared away.” Translation: Anyone who gets close enough to really get to know me eventually deems me unlovable.
I am just grateful that Jesus doesn’t love like people do. That He keeps no records of my wrongs and doesn’t hold my flaws against me. If God, my Creator, can love me just the way I am then I can too. If others can’t there’s nothing I can do about that. I’ll never be perfect. None of us will. But apparently, some people think we can and should be.
Nobody can tell me anything about myself that I don’t already know. Neither can anyone tell me anything about myself that I won’t openly share with others. I am not afraid of my deficiencies. I am not afraid to talk about them. The weaker and more messed up they make me look, the greater they make my God look. That He can love and would die for, a mess of a man like me. And that He would trust a wreck like me to share that kind of love with others.
I will not live any longer underneath the shame of not being good enough for other people’s love. Nor will I let the judgment and condemnation of others on my imperfections determine how I live my life anymore. Always striving for someone else’s approval. Forgiveness, love, grace, mercy – only the love of God can empower another person to truly embody these principles with love when they encounter truly messed up people like me.
When we are lacking in this area of Spirit-filled loved we will eventually find something in others to deem them unlovable. When we are lacking in this area of Spirit-filled love the only people we will ever deem lovable are those we feel are beneficial to our own good. Thank God that God hasn’t loved us like this. We have nothing to offer Him. There is nothing about us that God Himself can benefit from as if He would not if we did not exist or love Him. And yet He still loves us. Unconditionally and without hesitation. The world can do all it wants to make me feel unloved. I will stick to what I know, rather than what I feel. Jesus is so much more. And you can do the same. You are loved by the only One whose love should really matter even when your feelings tell you otherwise.
Copyright Lawrence Joseph Sterling 2017. All rights reserved.