I was sitting on a plane at 4am on my way to Costa Rica for a mission trip when a song by Beyonce came on my Spotify. The words of this song unexpectedly hit me.
Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you
Slow down, they don’t love you like I love you
Back up, they don’t love you like I love you
Step down, they don’t love you like I love you
I got out my journal and wrote the lyrics down along with the line “From Beyonce. And also God.” I laugh thinking about it now but when I was sitting there two years ago, as I was coming out of a hard, growing season, I was struck by God’s love in a new way.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and test the mind.” In 2019, my first year out of college, I saw that play out in my heart. I knew God created me to love being with people, and I had seen how being in close community had changed my life. But my heart was deceitful and I so easily made people and relationships ultimate things. I wanted to be loved and to get married. Even though I felt grown up, I still wanted my dad to be proud of me. I wanted a peaceful relationship with my family. I watched my heart strive and work and compromise to try to get these things above anything else. But in those, my heart was actually craving a relationship with my Heavenly Father and Bridegroom. My soul craved love that I was not even able to comprehend the depths of.
Tim Keller wrote, “Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.” (Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, pp. 172-173)
So to here’s what I learned when I was trying to live my life for human love:
-I will feel insecure
Relationships change so much. If they are my compass, if they decide that I am okay, if I measure up, if I’m where I should be in life, if I have a certain status—I will be insecure. I’ll need others’ affirmation to prove something about myself. Even the best, safest, closest people in our lives believe lies and false narratives about us sometimes, say the wrong things, and have struggles that we can’t even see. I will be crushed if I am leaning against those people as my only support and source of truth.
-I cannot trust my heart
My emotions are helpful indicators of things that I’m feeling, but my heart is selfish and flawed and if I follow it, it will lead me down the wrong path. In my pride, my heart also wants to earn love because of something that I bring to the table that makes me worthy. But I don’t bring anything good besides the fact that He made me—I am not enough, and that’s okay. It is so freeing that I don’t have to do anything to have it all together—if I’m being obedient to my perfect Savior and using my life to glorify Him, I can’t go wrong. He has PLANS—Jeremiah 29:11. He has multiple plans—to give me a hope and a future. I don’t have to worry about how things should look in my life. Hard things will always be apart of life on earth. His plans will not look the way we think they should most of the time. But he is good and so worthy of being trusted.
-I don’t have control.
“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
I’m a three on the enneagram. I love setting goals and achieving them. But relationships aren’t like this. They aren’t boxes that you can check off if you work really hard. The Lord has to be the One to do it. In this season especially, relationships within my family consumed a lot of my heart and mind. I thought that if I said the right things, read my Bible, and prayed, certain harder areas would change in the ways that I thought they should change. I felt powerless when it wasn’t happening. But God had something so much better. It involved so much change in my life that only He could have set into place—when I had thought it would require change in the lives of the other people. All I needed to do that was to give Him my whole heart—trusting Him, talking to Him, reading about how He has done miraculous things in the past, knowing He will do it again, and asking Him to direct my steps.
And here is what I learned about God’s love.
-His love is personal
He is not a distant or vague idea. His love is active in our lives if we are looking for it and talking to Him. For years, I didn’t understand how my deep desire for love could be found in someone I couldn’t even see in front of me. I didn’t think I could find a perfect, loving father in someone who I couldn’t sit across from. But He knows us so intimately and loves us more than we can ever imagine.
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a might hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
“There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Deuteronemy 1:31)
-His love is perfect
On that same plane ride, another song came on shuffle and again I wrote down the lyrics in my journal, on the page next to the Beyonce lyrics. This one was a worship song that I knew well, called “Pieces.”
Your love’s not fractured
It’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious
It’s not the restless kind
Your love’s not passive
It’s never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises
It keeps its word
It honors what’s sacred
‘Cause its vows are good
Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish
Your love is pure
For years, a world full of broken, human love had convinced me over and over again that I wasn’t good enough. It had tried to tell me so many things about my identity. But all along, He was looking at me, standing with open arms, and speaking identity to me that was louder—louder than any human voice, even from those that I loved—just to show me that I am His. That His love is truer. That He gets the glory from beginning to end, not me or another flawed person.
-His love can be trusted. He the absolute BEST in store for me. He’s not holding out on me.
God is the BEST storywriter. He totally did not have to answer this prayer for me but in April I got married to the love of my life—a man I hadn’t met yet when I had journaled these things in 2019. 1 Samuel 12:15 says, “Now therefore, stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” Jesus is king. He stands by us. He fights for us. He is a better king than any relationships we can try to use as stand-ins. “Do not turn away after useless idols. … They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.” (1 Samuel 12:21)
Lauren Ruark is the artist and designer behind Lauren Fuhr Design Co. She loves ministry and making life more beautiful through art and design. She leads student ministry with Highland Park KLIFE, works full time as a digital designer for Fossil, and at night and on the weekends she creates paintings and products that promote an effortless, artful, and beautiful lifestyle. She loves being outside and her years going to college in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (go Rams!) inspire much of what she creates. Lauren sees the world differently because she sees art everywhere– in big windows and natural light, in decor and interior design, in landscapes and sunrises, laughs and life chats on the kitchen floor, linen bedspreads and neutral colors, and everything in between. She loves Jesus with everything she’s got and lives everyday to the fullest with her husband and their dog, Wilson.