In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about how blogging feels a bit vulnerable. It is like journaling in public. Most of the time, I am happy as a clam to “journal in public” because I firmly believe that if we are free to be raw and honest, we offer others the opportunity to learn with us and get to know us. Our experiences may not be the same, but the lessons are similar. In the end, God wants us all to realize his passionate love for us and have the freedom to express our growing love for Him, wherever we may be at on the journey with Him.
I want to let you know up front that this post, in particular, feels vulnerable. In many ways, I feel healed from the lies and questions I have wrestled with over the years when it comes to this topic. But today I am grateful that God is thorough and does not want to leave even the tiniest piece of decay (lie) in my heart. Maybe he has a little work to do in your heart, too?
This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a 27-hour Christian youth event called Acquire the Fire (ATF) in Lansing with our youth group. The theme of the event was “Relentless Pursuit.” God is relentlessly pursuing each one of us and he longs for us to pursue him with that same relentless passion.
The word “pursue” has always evoked emotion for me. I have not known what it looks like to be pursued by a person until recent years, so I found it difficult to grasp the concept of God pursuing me.
As women, one of the major ways we learn what love and pursuit are is through the men in our lives. If those men set poor examples of love, it can be more difficult to imagine the great and powerful love and pursuit of God.
I have a dad, whom I dearly love and I know loves me; however, he has lived a 3-5 hour airplane ride away from me my whole life. He has always been busy with work and other interests, and he did not invest a whole lot of energy in getting to know me.
When it came to boys/men, I never felt desired or wanted. I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but the first guy I “went out” with only agreed to go out with me if my friend would also go out with him. I wanted to “go out” with him so bad that I convinced my friend to go out with him, too. This all went down in a matter of 15 minutes at Rollerworld. By the end of the first slow song, my middle school maturity reached a new level, and I realized that I did not want to be with a guy that only agreed to be with me so he could hang with another. Even though I listened to that inner voice that told me I was “worth more than this,” that experience left a couple tiny questions in my heart: “Will anyone want to be with ME?” “Will anyone find me valuable enough?” In high school, the questions dug roots as I did not have a single guy show interest in me.
By the time I got to college, the desire for a boyfriend was near the top of my priorities because the fear of never getting married was at the top of my list of fears. My mom raised me with a good head on my shoulders. She helped me to see the frivolity of chasing after boys. I adamantly fought to not be boy-crazy, even though I had my secret and not so secret crushes. I saw my friends get hurt over and over again and I did not want the empty pursuit of boys, yet I worried that no boy would ever show interest in me.
Deep in my heart was a huge unmet longing to be sought after, to be pursued. I looked for the fulfillment of that desire in the only place in college with the largest chance of meeting someone: parties. It is no surprise that I did not find what I was looking for. I found the world’s idea of pursuit and it is directly opposed to God’s definition of the word, pursue. The world’s definition leaves a person feeling used and robbed, instead of cherished and loved.
Ironically, it was the pursuit of a guy that actually led me to Jesus. After months of emptiness in the party scene, I agreed to attend a Christian group on the promise that there were many guys my friend could set me up with. My friend was smart. She knew how to get me in the door. I can still clearly remember the first time I visited the campus ministry. I could not wait for my friend to point out all the available men to me. (My husband was one of the men she pointed out that night, but I had my eyes set on another at the time) God was not on my mind at all, but I was on His.
He had been pursuing me. He had attended every party with me and was whispering in my ear, showing me the emptiness that lay before me. God used the thing I was pursuing to turn me to Himself. While we are pursuing things that will not satisfy, God is fiercely pursuing us, trying to open our eyes to the emptiness of our current pursuit and the fullness only He can offer.
So whatever the pursuit may be: a man, a baby, a job, pleasure, etc. – if we finally get it, it will not fill what we really need deep down.
I am now very happily married, but the longing to be pursued still lingers. My husband does a phenomenal job of loving me and pursuing me now. Early on in our relationship, that was not necessarily the case. He has grown, but ultimately, it is not up to him to make sure I am fulfilled in life. It is my responsibility to pursue God above any other pursuit, so that I may have the freedom to fully enjoy being in relationship with Todd and with others because I do not NEED something from that person. Any love they give just causes my heart to overflow because I am already filled.
I do not know a single woman who does not sometimes struggle with feeling loved and pursued. I am learning more and more that the struggle we all share has less to do with interpersonal relationships with another human and more to do with our inability to fully grasp the passionate love God has for us. God opened my eyes to one more thing regarding the idea of being pursued. He showed me that it is not just the ones like me who were shy and did not date a lot who struggle to understand what it means to be pursued. The most popular girl in school does not necessarily really know what it means to be pursued the way God pursues. She knows what it means to be wanted and desired, but that does not mean that in the end she feels wanted and desired for the internal, eternal qualities she possesses.
God’s pursuit of us is pure. He pursues because he loves and he is not seeking anything selfishly in return. He is seeking what is best for us.
I had an opportunity to share at church yesterday morning about my time at ATF and what God was teaching me. I shared how I have struggled with this idea of being pursued and how it has been difficult for me to grasp the deep love God has for me. After I shared, while feeling like I had made no sense and questioning whether it was even worthwhile that I had stood up there and opened my mouth, I received a note.
The note said (shared with permission), “It’s funny you talk to us about pursuit…up until my junior year of high school I was close to God…the moment I started to be pursued by girls I lost the plot entirely. I all but gave up on God and obsessively sought love, that I had via my personal relationship with God, from young women…which lead to less and less fulfillment. That turned into trying to fill that new, deeper hole with drugs. All of a sudden I look at my life and I’ve “wasted” half my life pursuing love from everyone but Him. I’m not sure what I’m saying other than THANK YOU. For sharing. For reminding me not to make the same mistake.”
A life spent in pursuit of money, pleasure, esteem, identity, happiness, love (the list goes on) is a life that will end up “wasted” if not sought after through God. Nothing but the passionate, genuine love of God can truly satisfy our souls. Without his love, we are prone to chase after meaninglessness and we will end up empty. I am so grateful that God does not relent in his pursuit of me, nor of you. He will never give up. May we turn to him and receive the love he offers…
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 17b-19).