You’re in the wreckage underneath
Your hope is buried somewhere deep
You’re wondering how long it will keep?
It’s never too late
Never too far
For you to reach out
And take a hold of love
Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane
– Natalie Grant
Love is a battlefield. That’s what came to my mind in worship last Sunday. And not because I was having a Pat Benatar flashback. As we sang, “Oh how He loves us”, I wondered how many there actually believed it. Do they know in their heart of hearts, beyond a shadow of doubt, that God loves them? Have they experienced His love firsthand? Love knocks and knocks on the door of our hearts. Practically speaking, we are slow to answer. That door is often double bolted, locked down, and barricaded with mile-high loads of baggage. It is amazing how His love finds us at all. How He breaks through all that and changes us. Right down to our core.
It was the lyric, “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy” that gave me an interesting word picture of this battle for our hearts. Let me elaborate on that a minute.
Years ago, I read a book about counseling adolescent girls. Dr. Mary Pipher wrote “Reviving Ophelia” out of her years of experience in practice. She saw firsthand a phenomenon of change in adolescent girls, whom she described as “saplings in a hurricane”. Saplings are young, vulnerable trees who cannot withstand the gale force winds of a hurricane. They bend, break…and die.
The book title and story of Ophelia come from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia is happy and free as a girl, but loses herself in adolescence. She falls in love with Hamlet and lives only for his approval. She struggles to please him, and to meet the demands of her father. Her value is solely based upon their approval. When Hamlet spurns her love, she goes “mad with grief”; and in her desperation, she takes her own life by drowning herself in a flower-filled stream wearing elegant, heavy clothing to weigh her down.
Dr. Pipher uses the story of Ophelia to illustrate the transformation of a confident, carefree youth to self-conscious, self-critical, troubled teen. She sees this dramatic change as girls losing themselves; “wholeness shattered in the chaos of adolescence”. And she cites the “girl-poisoning culture” in which we live as the root cause. She suggests that adolescent girls “experience a pressure to split into true and false selves”. That their true, authentic selves go underground; and they lose their own voice in the enormous pressure to be someone they are not. In her experience, this change can last well into adulthood without some help. Many women in their twenties, thirties, and forties continue to struggle with the same issues that overwhelmed them in adolescence. She notes with sadness that some adult clients have even forgotten they have an authentic voice worth fighting for. She finds it more often for women to come to counseling with the goal of being more pleasing to others; saving their marriage, or rescuing their children. It is common for women to view caring for themselves as selfish, or beside the point.
The battle for our hearts is the wind of the girl-poisoning culture vs. God’s love hurricane. I see the strain in my own daughters. I see it in women all the time in conversation. I see it in myself. This struggle to get free of everything false – this “mountain” that holds me captive in lies. As I sang, “Oh how He loves us so, oh how He loves us, how He loves us all” a sense of blessedness broke over me. That word “jealous” stuck in my mind, and this image of bending underneath the weight of His enormous love. To be jealous for me means that God pursues us with terrific intensity. His love is “as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding to the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away” (Songs of Songs 8:6, 7). The wimpy wind of the world is no match for the all-consuming love of Jesus Christ. Jesus is zealous to advance God’s purpose and glory. He will accept no rivals. The work of His Cross overwhelms us. His love has won the battle – on Calvary.
God’s love is the perfect storm. He presses into our falsity to impress His true love upon our hearts. This is a violent struggle like Crowder describes perfectly in his lyric: “heaven meets earth in an unforeseen kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest”. His love turns us upside down; breaking over us with such astounding acuity. His love challenges everything we have believed, everything we’ve tried to be. He speaks to us about who we are in Him, and reconnects us to that child-like part hidden with us. She is still there. The girl He made you to be. The fearless, confident, carefree child who dreams, hopes, believes, trusts.
And if you have an adolescent daughter, remember we do not wage war as the world does. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4, 5).
God is love. He is jealous for us. His love is the only true refuge in the coming storm. And His love never fails. His love is the greatest weapon in your arsenal to combat the forces surrounding your daughters. The Lover of Your Soul stands at the door of your heart and knocks. Let Him in. Let Love win your heart. Let Love change you. Be swift, O my soul to answer Him. Surrender all to this love that surpasses knowledge; experience firsthand how wide and long and high and wide is the love of Christ. Your changed heart is the greatest witness to your daughters. And everybody else for that matter.
“Give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men.
HIs love endures forever ” – Psalm 107