I confess, I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m the girl who looks tough on the outside but is a closet - Hallmark channel watching, Disney song listening, cries during the romantic comedy –hopeless romantic. There is something about the pursuit, the vulnerability and the courage in these stories that to some extent pulls at every heart. It represents our longing for love and belonging. For many years my heart longed for love but I didn’t believe I was worthy of it, so I hid it behind cynicism, control, and outward efficiency. What do you hide behind? Believing we are not only worthy of love, but loved can be one of the biggest battles for our heart.

Jh10:38 “But if I do what my father does, even though you don’t believe in me, believe what I do. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

For years I proclaimed to believe Jesus, and I did. I believed in Him but I often lost sight of how deeply He loved me. I still hustled for my worth. I could see what he did for others, I could have faith for them, but when it came to my heart, I couldn’t quite manage the hand over. I love the gospel of John. It is my favorite gospel for many reasons but one of these reasons is how often Jesus reminds, pleads and commands us to believe.

Jh11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Martha, do you believe this?

Resurrection from the dead. Can we pause on this for a moment? This is so powerful yet in many years of walking as a believer I can easily brush over it. Jesus, God incarnate, has power to raise the dead. Pause on this power for a second. The power of God, the love of God, is fully worthy of trust.

When Mary and Martha longed for Jesus the most it seemed as if he had left them. In their agony Martha reverted to efficiency and Mary to cynicism. In their disappointment Jesus was calling them to believe so they could see God’s glory. I almost hear it less as a question and more as a reminder. As if he’s saying, “Don’t you remember how much I love you? I got this. Trust me.” When we choose to believe in how much He loves us, we too get to see His glory.

Jh11:40 Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?

Jh11:43 Lazarus, come out!

When we believe we witness miracles. Sometimes we can have more faith for others than we do for ourselves. I know this is true for me. God wants us to believe we are worthy of love and belonging because He loves us and we belong to Him. Like Mary and Martha I was in the presence of Jesus. I knew him, but too often I doubted. God knows who I really am and He believes in me.

God has moved heaven and earth to win me, to win you.

Ps73:26 “my flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

God is the strength of my heart. I have missed this for so long and too often deferred to my own strength or the acceptance of others. I am part of the most powerful and epic romance in the Universe, and so are you. God says I belong to Him. Belonging doesn’t require me to change who I am, it requires me to be who I am. Who He has set me free to be.

The irony is that when I see and accept my worthiness, I accept God’s love and I change. I am able to put down all the things I once tried to pick up to hide my shame and insecurity. Now I can be who God created me to be.

God uses pain and heart ache to get us to stand still long enough to look deep down into our heart, way, way down into hurts from the past. My past wounds had to be addressed because they held my heart hostage. Now, on the other side, I get to enjoy true love – and share it freely. But this journey required a decision to believe.

John Eldridge writes and speaks about what he describes as “the agony of the human experience”, how we experience “beauty and affliction.” He concludes that what we do with our hearts is a result of how we experience both. Mary and Martha chose to believe Jesus. They chose to hold on to beauty in affliction. For many years, I tried to protect my own heart from feeling some of the affliction I felt growing up. Yet I could not protect it from heartbreak forever. When heartbreak came this time around I chose to do something different with my heart. As a result of my affliction, I chose to hand it over to God completely. I chose hope, desire and love. I engaged in the romance. I refused to lose my heart and soul. All of my self-defenses almost cost me my soul and for many years prevented me from living and loving wholeheartedly.

It’s a choice, to allow God to meet our longing for love and belonging. When I don’t let love in I am broken and hurt others. I miss out on the miracles. We can only love others as much as we accept God’s love for us, in essence, love ourselves. This is what frees me to be authentic, to confess my deep desire for romance, to do the running man at a wedding and be willing to look absolutely ridiculous; to make eye contact with and engage the homeless man who asks me for change, to initiate a genuine conversation with a stranger and love people without expecting anything in return or fear losing anything.

Is 62:12 Thy will be called the Holy People, the redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”

Believing Jesus, his love for us, frees us to present our imperfect selves to the world because we accept who we are. I chose to accept how God sees me. I chose for Him to be my portion. Salvation is unearned kindness and it brings wholeness. Only in Him am I whole. I am sought after by God and so are you. Believe it and watch him work the miracles in you and others. It will give you the courage and strength you need in each day.

Rom15:13 “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Sprit.”