Friday, 10 July 2015

Jesus Knows My Love Language

I went for Confession two weeks ago, and my penance was unexpected.

"Ask God to let you experience His love more. Maybe you are turning to some of your sins, because you don't fully believe God's love can satisfy."

As an INTJ, my faith isn't often touchy-feely. I am far less likely than an ENFP to post this kind of image:

I'm usually more like:

I'm won over by a good argument, I love reading Fr. Robert Barron, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, Jennifer Fulwiler and Simcha Fisher.

The analytical part of my personality often makes it difficult for me to just BE with people, and often to receive or give love easily. That includes God. I get scared when I'm expected to 'love on' people, and there may have been times when all three of my roommates would be on the same bed rubbing each others' backs, while I would be on my own bed. By myself. With a book. But over the years, God (and some of the people He has put in my life) have softened my edges quite a bit. I now even voluntarily hug people (occasionally)!

So when the priest asked to me to ask God for an experience, I did... even though my logical brain reminded me that whether or not I 'felt' anything, didn't mean God loved me any more or less. I don't NEED an experience, love is made up of the will. Mother Teresa suffered many years of dryness, yet I'm sure God didn't love her any less.

What I forgot was God's extravagance, and how He gives more than we can ask or imagine when we ask with childlike faith. Also I forgot that God DOES want me to know His love, not just abstractly believe it. Not in a shallow touchy-feely way, but in a deeper, intimate way, something like the lyrics of the song 'Known' by Audrey Assad.

In the days following my prayer, I began to taste a new intimacy with Jesus. I have often told Him. "I KNOW You love me, Lord, and I KNOW You are enough, but you can't physically hug me, or make me feel your love in a tangible way."

Well, last week, He proved He could.

I have a fairly odd love language. I mean I love physical touch (receiving, not giving), acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation and quality time. But none of them are my go-to to receive love. What makes me feel super special and loved is when someone plays with my hair. I used to bribe children to play hairdresser with my hair.

So you know what God gave me?


I am not even kidding. A friend said she knew people from a hairstyle academy who needed 'models' to work on, and would I like to go. Would I!! What made it even more special was that for two weeks I had been trudging through the filthy streets of Kolkata, living with friends who are trying to live a life in solidarity with the poor, and between the sweat-rolling-down-our-bodies humidity, the muddy, dirty, trash-and-human-waste-everywhere streets and the discomfort of rubbing shoulders with and smelling the human masses every day (not to mention suffering the humiliation of bad hair days... everyday, because of the humidity), our life was far from a pampered one.

This was the subdued version of my hair after a few days in humid Kolkata

For four hours, in a quiet air-conditioned room, my hair was washed, dried, every section 'treated', blow-dried, curled, my head massaged, and my hair made to look and feel awesome. Meanwhile I sat back and read a book- Strange Gods which I've been wanting to read for a while, and I just 'happened' to find in my friends' little apartment. In Kolkata. In India. What? It really happened!!!

I was so excited that I wanted to take photos of my experience. Unfortunately hair salons are one of my social anxiety hotspots (Am I obligated to talk to people? What about? Am I being too silent? Is it rude? Are they judging my terrible haircare? etc) so I felt too nervous to take pictures while my hairstylist was around, but every time he went to get something I'd sneakily take out my itouch and take a few grainy pictures.

So here you go:

Please don't notice me, please don't notice me!

The friend who also got a taste of 4 hours of being loved on by Jesus

Through the years of growing in a relationship with Jesus, I've learned that He is far more personal and real than I often expect Him to be (aren't you busy with all the REAL problems, God?). Whenever I'm willing to be wooed, He shows He is a Lover. And He wins me over.

If you don't believe me, allow yourself a moment of foolishness and ask Him if it's true.

"I don't want people to be afraid of Me anymore, but to see My heart full of love and to speak with Me as they would a dearly beloved brother. For some I am unknown. For others, a stranger, a severe master or an accuser. Few people come to Me as to one of a loved family. And yet My love is there, waiting for them. So tell them to come, to enter in, to give themselves up to love just as they are. Just as they are. I'll restore. I'll transform them. And they will know a joy they have never known before. I alone can give that joy. If only they would come! Tell them to come..."

He and I

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