Love and balance go together. Finding the center, where God’s love abides, keeps my heart in balance. Pastor John shared his work on intersections with me, and it became the framework God used to teach a lesson in balance. I’ve missed the mark and lost my balance when it comes to love. I’ve never been treated like a bride, but I realize that’s because I’ve never seen myself as one. The first step to being seen differently is to see yourself differently. As God changes me, I’m beginning to see myself as He does. God used an evening gown to show me that I am not only a bride, but also His beautiful daughter. I’ve never felt as balanced or beautiful in my life as I did when I put on that dress! I love it when God uses visual aids and props to get His message across, and He used both with this lesson!
Balanced love and healthy relationships occur when I am centered. The center, or intersection as Pastor John would call it, is the destination. Getting close to God is essential, but if I get so close that I lose my connection to others and my sense of identity, then I am lost. If I get so far into myself that I don’t need God, I lose my connection to Him and to others. The center is where God and I meet and is a place of peaceful balance. It allows me to love God, myself, and others in a way that brings wholeness. I know I will move up, down, right, and left as my heart navigates this journey, but understanding each level will help me stay balanced.
Listening to me is not the same as hearing my heart. God and those dearest to me hear my heart. I go to dear friends when my heart is hurting, and I go to God when I come to the end of my rope. He waits patiently, hears my cry, and wonders why I keep forgetting He is God and already knows the deepest desires of my heart. He helps me to search the depths of my heart where He waits for me. When I join Him there, He helps me reacquaint myself with all I have forgotten or perhaps never knew about myself and Him. That makes a difference in the way I see myself and allow myself to be treated.
God used a beautiful gown to help me see myself in a new light. A large part of the learning has been about loving who I am. What a revelation and transformation God made with my heart when I went for my fitting. I was alone when I tried on the dress. Rita ran to Michael’s and planned to be back before my fitting. As God would have it, Laura was finished early and ready for me forty-five minutes before my appointment.
Silly me had just learned from Rita that the alterations would run from $70 to $100 depending upon what had to be done, and Laura told me that it would take four weeks for the work to be completed. Once again, I felt stupid but gave it up to God and decided not to let it ruin my day. I was excited to try on the dress and felt just like Cinderella. I was a little sad that Rita wasn’t there; but God was, and Laura looked and behaved just like a fairy godmother. I’m sure that was intentional on God’s part:) I put on the dress and immediately felt beautiful. I didn’t have on any make-up, and my hair was wild-as usual! I went out to hear what had to be done to the dress and braced myself to hear how much it was going to cost me. I wish I had a photo of Laura’s sweet face when she looked at me in the dress. Her eyes lit up, she smiled sweetly and said, “I don’t need to do a thing to that dress! It’s perfect just as it is.” I could see and hear God and knew He was saying that He loved me just as I am.
I have never felt more beautiful in my life. It’s the way I should have felt on my own wedding day. I felt like a bride as I walked around with Laura looking for the perfect shawl. Folks from another wedding party were watching as she had me try on shawls and wraps and jackets. I could have kissed her when she said, “None of these will do!” Surprising, since she does work there and was speaking loudly enough for others to hear:) She looked me right in the eye and told me firmly, but lovingly, that I had to find a large scarf with black and tan and beige to match my shoes. I grinned and looked her in the eye and said, “Like the jacket you have on!” She looked down, laughed out loud and said, “Exactly!!”
It didn’t surprise me, but did catch Rita off guard when we walked into Dillard’s and saw the perfect scarf marked down from $28 to $8:) She said wow in a very quiet and very humble way. I looked up and said, “Thank you God:)” Before I went to bed, I just had to put the dress back on with the shawl. I had my computer out and decided to take a photo just to see how it looked. It was late, and I was ready for bed with my hair a mess and no make-up. What I saw surprised me even more than when I was in the shop with Laura. It was just God and me, and it was so sweet and intimate as He told me to look and see what He saw.
In my living room all alone, I found the abandon to do just that. All I could think was God truly has brought beauty from the ashes. Cinderella was appropriate in that her very name implies the ridicule she got from others for the ashes on her face. Ridicule for me has mostly come from me as I have allowed others to define me. God made Himself perfectly clear yesterday as He lovingly showed me Who He is and who I am. I saw myself in a new and beautiful light. I’m a bride, His bride, and He loves me. I best not forget that in the future. It was just what a daddy should make sure his beloved daughter understands before he gives her up to her groom.
I felt that for the first time in my life that evening, and it was transforming. God changed the way I saw myself, and He did it in the sweetest way ever. I love that my hair was disheveled, my face was scrubbed clean, and my feet were bare when I took the photo. Those who know and love me best know that is just the way I love to be. Suddenly, I felt changed from the inside out. I know in the very depths of my being that it is not only okay to be the way I am; it is, as Laura and God reminded me, a perfect fit for me! I am His beloved and beautiful daughter.
Here’s the photo I took with my computer:
Here are charts God helped me to fill in. They helped me, and I pray they help you too.
Love & Balance
Loves Too Freely 4 Experience Love Refuses to Love
*At level one, nothing but self matters. Love is about self, and I do not need God. There is satisfaction in that I don’t need anyone else. It is very satisfying, but very lonely.
*At level two, the connection is still about self, and sex is the way love is expressed. Lust is confused with love. Self is not as satisfied as I connect to others but expect them to make me feel good.
*At level three, the connection is fused and confused by doing. Enabling takes place. It is all about what I do for others. Love and action are confused. The satisfaction is about being needed, and that depends on others acknowledging my sacrifice. Self is not satisfied unless praised. Not really about others, and getting away from self.
*At level four, there is balance and self-differentiation. God, others, and self come together in a balanced mix. He is who He is, I am who I am, others are who they are, and love flows through all in a way that causes a close connection without fusing. Self and God are satisfied. It is a place of joy and peace.
*At level five, I put my feelings into words and express my love for God and others beautifully, but it is imbalanced because there is a distance between me and others. I’m closer to God but further from others. I talk about love, but I do not experience it as God desires. Self is becoming less important and is not satisfied.
*At level six, I see love in others, but I am more distant from them. I am closer to God and more in tune with Him. I feel very near. I have images and visions of His love, but love is not manifested in my life or self. I need others less and less and spend more time with God alone. Self is even less important and less satisfied.
*At level seven, I know God deeply and am in His presence in a powerful way. I feel one with Him but further and further away from others and self. I don’t want or need others, and I am lost in the process. It is a beautiful feeling, but a lonely one. Self isn’t important any more and is in the way. Not satisfied and frustrated with limitations of self.
Balanced love and healthy relationships occur when I am centered. The center, or intersection is the destination, not the top. Getting closer to God is essential, but if I get so close that I lose my connections to others and my sense of identity, then I am lost. If I get so far into myself that I don’t need God, I lose my connection to God and to others. The center is where He and I meet in perfect harmony and become one. That allows me to love Him, myself, and others with all my heart. I will move up, down, right, and left as my heart navigates this journey, but understanding each level will help me stay where God wants me to be.
Here’s another little chart that helps me stay balanced.
generosity love honesty
Love is a beautiful combination of generosity, affection, honesty, and devotion. God gives beautiful balance to our hearts by bringing us to the center where He resides♥