The letter that was read in the message October 13 & 15.
I thought I knew what love was. My beloved husband Peter and I were married for eight beautiful and tumultuous years. Our joys and struggles forged a bond between us like nothing I could have imagined. Through many trials, we had begun to reap the sweet harvest of a committed, determined, hard-won love. At last, I felt our marriage had come into a level place with the warm hope of many shared years stretching out ahead of us.
And then he died.
Along with losing my lover, I lost my identity and my purpose. I spiraled into darkness and emptiness.
How could I still be loved if Peter was not here to love me anymore? How could I ever be okay again, much less contented or even happy? I knew that God loved me, but His love felt more like a concept and not like the real, tangible love I had enjoyed with my husband. I much preferred husband-love to my idea of God-love.
So I asked God to help me love Him as much as I had loved my husband. Since He says about Himself that He is a husband to the widow, I asked Him to be to me what my husband had been and more. I asked Him what it really meant to say, “Your love is better than life.”
And He answered me! Last Tuesday, I was at a worship service. I was enjoying praising God and enjoying His sweet presence. In the midst of it, I felt God was speaking to me. As I worshiped, I began to understand that He loved me with a unique love that was meant just for me. I wasn’t part of a crowd receiving a piece of His love, I was His entire focus and delight, receiving all of the love that He had just for me! His attention was not divided and He was not distracted. I felt that He was saying “I only have eyes for you.” At the same time, I knew He loved others in this unique way, with a love that He had just for them, yet it did not diminish the intensity of the love He had for me. I also realized that He did not compare me to others the way I so often compare myself. He was not saying, “If only you would learn to be more bold like her” or “It’ll be great when you become more spiritual like her.” He simply, purely, loved and accepted me. I felt that if there was anything He wanted to change about me, it was only so that I could know and enjoy Him better because this was best for me. If there was anything He wanted to remove from me, it was only so that I could receive more of what He wanted to give me because this was best for me. In that moment, it did not matter if I was single, married, widowed, had children, or was childless. None of the things that I so often associated with my worth and identity had any standing. There was only room for God and me. This relationship superseded all others. The love I felt was sweeter and stronger than the best husband-love I had ever experienced with my beloved Peter. I knew that this is what I was made for.
Driving home, I realized that I used to love God very much like I might love an idea or concept. But now I know that to love God is to love a person, the perfect Person, the perfect Lover.