Obviously I didn't accomplish my original goal of reading it all in twelve months, but life happened and here we are. It's weird to think that when I began, I was a whole year younger, with so many dreams and hopes for what the year would bring. The journey wasn't anything I expected.
I struggled in the first few months to find a system that worked for me so that reading God's Word didn't feel like a chore. Eventually I sucked it up and developed the habit of waking up fifteen minutes earlier every day so that I could take that time to sit with God and soak in His message. Some mornings my heart was too heavy or too tired to read, so I simply sat in silence with God, or poured out my heart in my prayer journal.
Because I was no longer beginning my day with the stress, anxiety, and nonsense that often comes with scrolling through social media or watching the news, I began to feel more peaceful, and I noticed God's Spirit moving in me in a more real way. I began to make better choices throughout my days and develop other good habits.
From the outside, my life hasn't changed much in the last fifteen months, but I honestly feel like I've been on a real journey. I've had some beautifully fun reunions with old friends who are more like family, and I've been through some seriously dark times and struggled in silent desperation. I've had deeply profound spiritual experiences at the beach, and had tearful meltdowns when circumstances led me to eat cold Chipotle alone in the car after a long, frustrating day at work. I've had identity crises where I've tried to reconcile who I was with who I am with who I want to be with who God created me to be.
And all along in these growing pains and turbulent existential waters, the love letter that is God's Word has reminded me of His love, His peaceful ocean of mercy.
And I've learned that what's even more important than loving God is recognizing this love He has for us. His love for us is fierce and gentle, all-encompassing, unconditional. He takes us as we are, and, if we let Him, he will make us new creations in grace.
Take this from 1 John 4:10 as His valentine to you:
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.
He loves me. He loves you. He loves the cranky lady in line at the grocery store. He loves the person in front of you who failed to use their turn signal. He loves the person in authority at work who continues to make decisions you disagree with. He loves us.
|He loves you.|
It's not coincidence that Lent begins on Valentine's Day this year. God's message of love for us is also an invitation to take the time to let Him tell us just how much He loves us. One great way for women to do this is by signing up to receive daily Scripture readings with short reflections through Blessed Is She. These have been a huge source of grace for me!
In addition to these daily dives into Scripture, I'm going to be re-reading one of my all-time favorite books, I Believe in Love by Father Jean C.J. d'Elbee. Every time I read it, I am able to go deeper into the mystery of God's love for us, and He helps me to believe even more strongly in Love. I highly recommend it!
So, Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Lent, and take heart knowing that God loves you more than you will ever know! He loved you first and He will love you forever!