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Jun 23, 2020 241 0 Lyrissa Sheptak
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Melting Hearts

Feeling incomplete? God loves you completely.
Are you imperfect? God loves you perfectly.

Do it God’s Way

I like to think of myself as a devout Catholic, obedient to God’s laws and will. Yet I know that I am not just falling short. In some important respects I am utterly failing. It is extremely difficult for me to show love to people who have hurt me deeply. Although I have tried to forgive certain people over and over again—it feels like many more than 70 times 7—at heart I am never convinced by my attempts at love or forgiveness.

Jesus directed us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He did not only mean the people who live next door, but everyone with whom we come in contact—even those who maltreat us or are incapable of loving us, those who do not feel the need to ask for forgiveness…or those who cannot bring themselves to grant it. I understand why Jesus asks us to love, but in some specific cases, it feels impossible. However, this life is not just about me and what I want. Jesus never promised an easy or fair life; He promised that He would never abandon us.

Sometimes, it feels easier to just wallow in our own misery, or more satisfying to point the finger at others, but If we want Christ to smile upon us and say, “Well done good and faithful servants”, we have to obey Him. It is not good enough to merely go through the motions. I have tried that. Insincerity is obvious. So, I know I have to let go of my way of trying to remedy things and do it God’s way.

Does it Hurt to Love?

God loved us so much that He became one of us, suffered with us and laid down His life for us. That is the ultimate example. Because He loves us unconditionally, He asks us to do the same for others. We will always have our safe inner circle of loved ones, but to call ourselves Christians, we need to demand more of ourselves. We cannot profess to be Catholics and go down the grocery aisle picking and choosing which of God’s laws we prefer to follow. Catholicism does not work that way. We are required to follow all of God’s precepts. Being obedient means becoming vulnerable—which is extremely humbling… and exactly what we should be.

I have discovered that the only way to break down my ‘love’ barrier and give the best version of myself is to allow God to love me first. But I am a sinner. Human. Full of faults, insecurities, and worldly weaknesses. Some days I feel too wounded, angry, numb, or stained. Could God, who created the universe, love someone like me? He does, and He is relentless about it. He loves me because I am weak.

But it is one thing saying I want God’s love, and another thing to actually feel it. A big step forward is surrendering my heart and letting go of all my hurt and pride. That is very daunting, but as Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “To be real, love must cost. It must hurt. It must empty us of self.”

Letting God Do His Thing

If we continue to hide our vulnerabilities, then we distance ourselves from God and the purpose He has for our lives. For God’s love to work in us, we must trust Him totally. He already knows us better than we know ourselves. Sit quietly before the altar, or in a private space and let it all come out—the pain, the shame, the weaknesses. Then refill that gaping emptiness with the powerful, restorative ardour of the Holy Spirit.

Allowing the Holy Spirit in to heal our hearts, releases the love and peace we have been fruitlessly pursuing. The key to full healing and transformation is through a personal relationship with all 3 members of the Holy Trinity. Healthy relationships are not one-sided, nor are they mere transactions. They require effort and communication.

How can this be achieved? Regular reception of the Sacraments, prayer, Scripture reading, praise and worship, meditation and listening are the key. The more time we spend with God, the more receptive we are to understand when He speaks to our hearts—and the more we want to do His will.

Remember, even if we are transformed by God’s love, those with whom we struggle may continue to reject us. But that is okay. Let God work in them. We can do our part by starting small. Pray for them. Keep offering the situation to God. Let God’s transforming light shine through us to inspire others. When we love someone deeply, we do not mind going the extra mile. So, go the extra mile for Christ. Our little sacrifices and our attempts to share His love are beautiful starting points for God to enter our daily drama and take care of the rest.

To God we are worth it—stains and all. We do not always deserve something as powerful as His love, but He believes we do. How beautiful it would be if we could accept His grace to find little ways to pass it on.

Dear God, fill our hearts with the fire of your unceasing love, that we may go beyond the imperfections and hurt feelings. We surrender all our desires and vulnerabilities to seek your unconditional love in every area of our lives. Transform our hearts to radiate the light of your love to all those around us. Amen.

Lyrissa Sheptak

is a writer who contributes regularly to Nasha Doroha, a Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League magazine. As well, she is a member of the Spiritual Committee for the UCWLC National Executive. She lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband and four children.

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