We, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
1 John 4:19 (Message Translation)
I have this journal.
I didn’t write it. I didn’t even know the person who began writing it, but the fact that it made its way to me, is still a wonder. I keep it in a waterproof, fire-safe box beside our passports, wills, and all the other “grown-up” papers.
It is invaluable and irreplaceable to me and holds more worth than probably anything else I own. I actually learned about this journal, long before I ever knew I would become its grateful recipient.
In college, I worked at a camp, and there was a young man who was often asked to speak, and one time he shared how, as a single college student, he began keeping a journal of prayers, Scriptures, and letters for the wife he was praying God would someday bring him.
I remember being so moved and inspired (along with everyone else), by his vision and by the love he already had for his wife before he even knew her.
Years later, God answered not only his prayers but my own, when he brought the two of us together. Turns out, that girl he’d been writing to... ended up being me.
In a beautiful, full-circle moment he gave me the worn journal as a gift on the night of our rehearsal dinner. What a treasure to look through its pages and see it anonymously begun, then midway through, addressed specifically to me, seeing where he had begun to write my name.
It’s a love story, thankfully, still being written three decades later.
And as I think about it all now, it’s a beautiful picture to me of the way that we love because Christ first loved us. Just like I’d done nothing to deserve the beautiful, faith-filled prayers of love at the beginning of that journal, there was a time when the love that journal already held, found me right where I was. And, I was able to receive that love as a gift, freely given, long before I’d had anything to do with it.
It’s a glimpse of what it is to be the Beloved of God.
And the truth we sometimes forget to remember is that it’s in being loved, that we can then love. It’s our identity as His Beloved, perfectly and completely loved as we are, that we can extend that same love to those God has given us to love.
When we love from that posture, we’re better stewards of the love we have for our spouse, our children, and each of the people we’re called to love, (even when it feels hard,) remembering that we, ourselves, are the recipient of that love first.
This kind of unconditional, agape love is a great mystery and shapes everything about who are, and the love we can then freely give.
Lord, help our hearts to remember that You are the One who loved our souls first.
And in being Your Beloved, we can both Be Loved and Be Love, today. -Kristin Hill