Over a year ago, my teen-aged daughter, Maggie, was helping me fold the laundry. She was bubbling over as she chattered about all the things the women of our church family had done for her over the years. She was so grateful for their tenderness and encouragement. Most of these women were old enough to be her grandmother. In them, she also saw evidence of a deep and solid faith in God. Then there were the women who all had children who had gone through high school or college already. Their children’s experiences were much like the ones Maggie would have over the next 10 years or so. While theirs was a strong faith, it was also a growing faith, a faith in development. And Maggie kept them tenderly in her heart.
The thing she was turning over in her head that day was the wonder of how much these women cared for her. I told her it was because they loved her, which she countered with a modest sound of hesitance. Now, I love my two daughters very much, and my heart breaks whenever I sense that they don’t feel loved or are hurt when a relationship with a friend changes, or even when they experience the inevitable bumps and bruises that come to all of us as we try to navigate this world. But for Maggie to not accept and embrace the affection these women had for her…well, I wasn’t having it!
I stopped sorting and told her to put everything down and look at me. “Maggie, listened to me. You are so loved!”
That’s when I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “So are you.”
A lightning round argument with the Holy Spirit followed. I thought, ‘Wait a minute! I’m talking about Maggie right now. Not me.’ If you could be inside your head and still mutter under your breath, I would have. ‘Besides, I’m not loved. Or at least I’m not lovable.’
“John 3:16, LaRonda. You are so loved, too.”
Oh, I was going to have to ponder that for a while.
And I’ve been meditating on it all year long. What if the verse were For God so loved LaRonda that he gave his only begotten son…? Go ahead and put your name where mine is. How awesome is that?! Not only does God love the world, he so loves the world. Have you ever hugged a child, a friend, a spouse, or a pet and said, “I love you so much!”?
I used to think “so loved” was one of those King James Version phrases intended to fancy things up – you know, like thee and thy, but it’s not. It’s a hug-you-tight way of saying how very treasured you are. It says you’re treasured and hold a special place in the very depths of the heart!
But I’d grown up thinking it was a phrase that wasn’t for me. The truth is, I was worried about walking up to Heaven’s gate and feeling like the last kid picked for dodgeball after every handicapped kid was already taken and the PE teacher threatened the team captain with an F if he didn’t take me. Of course Heaven had to let me in because I’d accepted Christ as my savior when I was 12. I had my Get Out of Hell Free card! Rules are rules, right? Inwardly, I’d cringe and hope everyone would stop looking at each other for any loophole they could think of and, finding none, actually let me in.
But in the last year that I’ve been pondering the difference between begrudging technicalities and certain acceptance, God has put authors and speakers in my path who are reassuring of the tender, consuming, relentless love that he has for all of his children – including those who still run from him or resist his wooing. It’s as if cold, perfectly chiseled has been slowly becoming soft, warm flesh with a breath and a heartbeat.
In fact, let’s go back to PE class. The teacher is threatening Bobby with an F and the room is absolutely silent as Bobby considers how much damage one F could to his chances at a football scholarship, when a voice from behind me booms throughout the gymnasium: “I’ll take her. After all, she’s mine,” calls out Christ. He’s the only one who can see a quagmire of shame, rejection, and self-loathing and still recognize the child his Abba Father loved long before anyone heard her heartbeat. Long before a handful of kids had measured me up and found me falling short of being an asset in a dodgeball game.
God is about so much more than a Get Out of Hell Free card! And I believe he just wants each of us to realize how very much we are loved. And that’s why I’ve changed the name of my blog to You Are So Loved!, which you can check out at https://larondabourn.com.
Here’s the embarrassing thing: I know absolutely nothing about building or maintaining a website! But I wanted to create a sort of “playground” that had videos, quotes, songs – anything I could think of to encourage others as I had been encouraged. But I can’t figure it out! And my perfectionism has only managed to keep me from writing new posts. So, here is my imperfect invitation to my imperfect website. Ta-da! I’ll figure it out someday. When I do, I hope it’s not like making a dish the whole family loves and not remembering how I did it because there’s no recipe, and who knew it would even be edible this time? Ya know?
But if I don’t post something soon, no matter how imperfect it is, I may never post or dare to write again. So if you check it out and it never looks the same way twice, just be patient and know it’s still the same place. And remember that you are so loved!
5 thoughts on “Let’s Get Started!”
Wow! LaRonda, this brings me SO much joy! Major, major rejoicing happening here! Thank You, Jesus!
Laronda, what you wrote here really ministers to me. I actually have goosebumps right now just from reading this. This is the message that God has been giving me lately — that I am so loved. Wow wow WOW!
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I one mentioned to an acquaintance pretty much what I wrote here about being less confident of God’s love for me specifically. She looked confused and said, “Of course he would! Why wouldn’t he?” I don’t know. Maybe being flat-out ignored at time, expecting to disappoint at any time, watching facial and vocal changes every minute as a clue that the wind has changed and needing to prepare for it to protect myself, waiting till I was 32 before a man was interested in me. So, yes, accepting that someone who was intangible loved me completely, anyway, and always seemed a little unbelievable. 😏 I’m so pleased that this ministered to you at a right time! You are so loved, Linda! ♥️
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❤️❤️ congratulations and good work. You go girl!!
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I’ve been putting off writing too long! And since I haven’t been posting, I haven’t checked out other blogs that I enjoy. I especially miss you and your encouraging words❣️♥️