Do you ever experience a deep, heavy longing that seems to eat away at your heart? Oftentimes the emotions that bleed out from its existence are so deep and so real that words fail to describe them adequately. What is it that you are craving so desperately in those moments? Have you ever stopped to think about it?
About five years ago I encountered a perspective that radically changed how I saw God, myself, and those around me. It can be summarized like this: the deepest desire of every human heart is to be fully known, fully accepted, and fully loved.
But how often we have been hurt by those who claim to love us—friends and family, those who we dared to trust. The very word can bring with it miserable heartache and open up traumatic wounds. Indeed, the word "love" in our culture has become so trite and meaningless, relegated to the monotony of the next pop song and tainted with the blight of our broken relationships.
It is an unfortunate reality that, although we keenly hope for the best possible rendition of love in our lives, we are too often violated by those we love and we go on to violate those around us. If we are honest with ourselves, we are bankrupt of true love, unable to fully live up to the high and noble picture of what it should really look like. Instead, our hearts are hurting, the hearts of everyone around us are hurting, and the sure result is relational violations of all kinds. Hurt people hurt people.
Maybe what we really need is a purity of love that is unfailing. It appears that human hearts cannot manufacture it, for if we could, wouldn't life be better and wouldn't history have different stories to tell? But here we are broken, restless, the void in our hearts keeping us awake at night yearning to be filled. Where can we find this love? Does it even exist?
The unfailing love we so long for has its beginning and end in the heart of the One who is the very source and definition of it. God is love and we are made in His image (1 John 4:7, 8; Genesis 1:27). We were created to experience the joy and ecstasy of giving and receiving unfailing love and it is what our hearts crave in our most anguishing moments.
Unfortunately, this life is one full of loss; it is inherently lonely. We lose friends and family through distance, death, and a myriad of other circumstances, and we also sustain deep wounds from those who violate us. Our hearts ache for an authentic, trusting relationship but our relationships often fall far short of that ideal. In the words of the poet Sylvia Plath, "Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship — but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness, is horrible and overpowering." It is only in Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, that we find the relief to our inherent loneliness. Only the Author of love itself can satisfy.
Let it ring throughout eternity that you are perfectly known, perfectly accepted, and perfectly loved. You are not alone. Let Him love you.
Sean O'Brien is a senior studying computing.