by Allie Crume
A year ago, also in February, I wrote a blog post on love, everything I thought I knew about it. I poured out everything I had in me, and I wrote long and deep about how I saw myself as separated from the love of God by the skewed view of love I’ve left with from broken relationships here on earth. It was so close to a breakthrough for my spirit and soul – but it was all on the surface, still so focused on the love story God writes us here on earth, not at all about the actual definition of love. It turns out that there was one more battle left to fight before I would really understand what was true about love, about God’s love – and in another country, in a whole other chapter of my story, I learned my fight had a lot to do with anxiety.
The thing about anxiety is that it causes me amnesia. It doesn’t really matter what stirs it up, what matters is that in the blink of an eye, I forget everything I knew to be true about God. One of my favorite writers, Ann Voskamp, calls it “soul amnesia.” “Forget the face of God,” she says, “And you forget your own name is Beloved.”
She’s right. You see, anxiety causes me this kind of soul amnesia, and forgetting God means that I’ve forgotten love. And worse yet, though it is me who has forgotten the face of God, I become convinced that the tables are turned: that it is God who has forgotten me. Because I’m convinced of this, convicted of it deeply, I start to live inside a lie that says love has left me. It goes beyond the reality that I don’t feel love, I can’t figure how I ever felt it in the first place, that I’ve forgotten He is love. It’s that I see love leaving, and I believe it is because of me. I see it in other people when rejection rips out the roots of friendships just starting to grow, and I see it where I used to see God. I start to believe that there is something profoundly definitive about who and how I am in the world that marks me as unloveable rather than just unloved.
That’s what anxiety does to me. It takes God’s greatest gift, the thing that is truer than true about Him, and it convinces me that it cannot last as long as I’m around. It tells me that God cannot be who He is because of who I am.
Do you see the glaringly obvious issue with that? God made me.
God made me who I am because of who He is. Who He is flows through my veins because He put it there. I could not make Him forget me if I tried, and there are days where I have tried. But God is Love, and Love is patient and kind, and Love does not leave, even when you do. It chases you across the oceans until you are crying in the balcony of a nightclub listening to hymns sung in Spanish, until you are standing at the top of the hill called Glory, bathed in red and purple rays, watching the sun go down with three girls who have shown you nothing but love. Wondering how in the world you got there, and how you got lucky enough to learn to live loved.
There’s no magic answer, there’s no formula or steps you can follow to break yourself out of the lie that you are unloved. Oh, how I wish I could give you some steps, or that you could do the same for me. But at the end of the day, to live loved is to make a choice to see your reality for what He says it already is, regardless of what the world says you are or should be. To live loved is to wake up every morning and remind yourself that instead of waiting to get to the next place or the next stage or the next season of life where you’ll have the time, money, freedom to really be the person you’re supposed to be, the Gospel says you can be her today. To live loved is to realize that walking through the storms of life doesn’t make you damaged goods, because He walks at your side. And the whole point of living loved is that every day, you start to see yourself a little more clearly by looking to the light of who He is.
Ann Voskamp also has a line in her book The Broken Way that echoes through my mind: “When nothing feels simple, simply do the next thing.” I used to think that my anxiety was trying to tell me something, to point me to something specific I could fix or change in my life. Then I thought it was just a part of me that I would have to learn to live around. It was only recently that I realized anxiety does have a purpose: now that I know the lie it tries to tell me, and know it well, that sinking feeling in my stomach reminds me to turn to the truth, to the Word, to the promises of God that tell me who I am and who He is and why He put me here. I read Ephesians 1, I hit shuffle on my favorite Hillsong album, I go for a walk, turn my phone off, and pray. No matter how it looks that day, when truth is what I turn to first, doing the next thing doesn’t seem so complicated. Neither does living loved.
And it’s true what they say, that truth will set you free. Because when you believe – whether for a second or a season – that you are not capable of being loved, to find out it is a lie is to experience relief like a river and faith like a flood. It washes me clean, and it tastes like truth and tears.
I’m Allie – a lover of words, music, people and the color pink. Over on my blog, I strive to share stories and speak truth about what it’s like to be ever falling in love with my life and my Lord. I’m all about finding grace for the past, freedom for the present, and hope for the future in Christ – and I’d love for you to learn with me about the moments, places and people in our lives that make us who we are – that make us new romantics.