For as long as I can remember, I’ve always valued obedience. When it came to my relationship with the Lord, I made a vow that there would never be a moment in my life when God asked me to do something and I would answer “no.” From day one, God had my yes. And every day since then, my prayer has been that I would wake up with the grace to be able to say “yes” again. To be honest, it’s not always easy. There were key moments along the way when the yes barely found its way past my lips. But even so, I truly want to live a life where I could say that to the best of my ability, I obeyed.
I recently wrote about how God has been taking me through a journey of learning how to ask. I think because I value obedience, I really like it when God tells me what to do. Obedience is my love language to Him. But when He began to ask me what I wanted, I didn’t know what to say. It left me completely speechless as I realized that it’s much easier for me to do things for the Lord than it is for me to share with Him my heart. I think in some ways, giving me space to ask is God’s love language to me.
Asking was an extremely weird and vulnerable journey. When God asks me to do something, the ball is in my court to obey. And boy—do I know how to play that game well. But when I ask God if He can do something for me, I put the ball in His court and I’m no longer in control of the outcome of my deepest desires. That was scary for me. The root of my hesitancy to ask was not that I wouldn’t get what I want, as much as it was the fear of my heart being rejected by God. But as I shared this with those around me, they all affirmed that God was intentionally teaching me about my belovedness. That I was so much more to God than an obedient daughter. That as much as I care about the things on His heart, He cares about the things on my heart, too.
So I took the plunge — and I asked. I listed this dream job that I wanted after graduation. As specifically as possible, I jotted a list of what I had hoped for. And I asked… I asked God if it was possible. If He would be kind enough to lead me to something that encompassed all 8 bullet points. If something like this could actually exist. In my 27 years of knowing Jesus, I’ve never felt more vulnerable.
The funny thing is, shortly after jotting this list, I accidentally came across an organization that literally brought my list to life. I was extremely excited and simultaneously guarded. “This is way too good to be true,” I thought. I was blown away that God would care enough to ask me what I wanted; I was even more overwhelmed that He would love me enough to follow through and create something that literally mirrored my heart. If this was belovedness, then I have never felt more beloved.
Long story short: my heart already began to pack my bags, when out of nowhere it seemed like the door to that opportunity shut. I quickly realized that I was living in the midst of my biggest fear. Why would God do this? Why would God show me something that I want, knowing how difficult it was for me to even share it with Him, only to throw it out the window so abruptly? If God wanted me to feel beloved, then why did my heart feel so abused by Him? This is definitely not how I would steward someone else’s vulnerability.
Ironically, this all took place during Holy Week and I never felt more unholy as I tried to process my disappointment. As people were gearing up to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, my heart and deepest desires had never felt more dead and buried.
A few days later, a good friend texted me his reflections on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. And I am so grateful to him for it because I was able to see the gospel with new eyes. I reread the story and saw Jesus extremely vulnerable before the Father. He, too, asked God for something He deeply desired, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). With blood, sweat, and tears, Jesus places His heart on the line and puts the ball in God’s court. And in some ways, we see that God essentially shut the door to Jesus’s vulnerable request.
I share all of this, not because it answers all (or any) of my questions. If I’m honest, I still don’t really understand. But I think more than understanding God in this moment was this striking reality that Jesus understands me. Jesus knows the pain of vulnerability. He knows what it means to ask God the Father with hope and faith. And He knows what it feels like to hear a “no” from the one He has given His “yes” to.
I think oftentimes in the midst of someone’s pain, I am quick to remind them of the victory and hope that we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And indeed, we do. But this past Easter, I didn’t find comfort in Jesus’s power. I found it in His humanity. I guess I’m learning that sometimes, the better answer to our hurt and confusion is not that “God has bigger plans” or even that “God is bigger than our plans.” Sometimes the antidote we need for our weary souls is not the reminder of how big God is, but in how small Jesus was willing to become.
This is my belovedness—that Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).