I’m not a huge Proverbs reader. Just gonna be honest about that. (Probably should be. It is the book on wisdom after all. Sheesh) REGARDLESS, I was thumbing through it today and happened upon this verse: through love and faithfulness, sin is atoned for….(Prov 16:6)
Years ago, I would’ve read that through the Jesus lens and just said, that’s how Jesus loves me. Remembering I’m a sinner, he saved me, super glad for my ticket to heaven and I would’ve moved on.
(I get that that may sound a bit sac relig – not my heart – BUT LISTEN. I’ve been in church my entire life, so after years and years of hearing it, I tend to just lump it all into that I’m-a-sinner-he-saved-me-that’s-the-end-of-the-story-message)
BUT there is so much more to Him.
The story of Jesus – the story of God – is layered with so much depth and richness that I don’t want to miss. And sometimes I feel like we do just that: we miss it. We sing the song, do the dance of the gospel message (that we’re taught) and are all done. Like that’s all there is. But, there’s so much more to having a relationship that just one layer.
Good relationships are layered – like an onion.
Once you peel the skin off, there are endless layers to be undone before you get to the core. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to the core of my relationship with God yet; but I hope to. I don’t feel like many of us have – most of us stop at the first few layers – we don’t know there’s more.
But, I’m here to tell you, THERE’S MORE.
SO, I’m reading this verse and instead of the Jesus answer (the one that simply focuses on me being a sinner) I saw it through a different lens. One where God himself wants to teach me what relationships look like or should look like that is (LORD KNOWS I’ve had a lot of not so good ones) because he loves me so much.
Because he wants my heart whole.
Because he wants me to experience life and have it to the fullest.
BECAUSE HE’S JUST THAT DARN GOOD.
So, this is what he showed me is wrapped up in that passage…
Every relationship we have will experience some amount of pain. Every single one. Not because we intend to hurt each other, not because we are suckers for heartbreak, but because we are simply human.
Whether purposeful or not, we will all hurt each other. Even the most loving of relationships will experience some hurt. It’s part of life.
What separates a healthy relationship from an unhealthy one is how those hurts are processed.
When you have a foundation of love – real love – processing hurt looks very different than one without love as it’s foundation.
Now, lots of people say they love each other. Lots of us throw around that word. But, I’m talking about the kind of love that says, I want what is best for YOU no matter what that looks like for me. I hurt when you hurt, because my love for you is greater than my love for myself. I want to hold your heart and protect it, just as much as I guard my own. I am willing to be uncomfortable, stretched and challenged in order to provide you with what your heart needs. I’m ALL in.
This kind of love takes time to develop; lots and lots of time. It equally takes a lot of time to maintain.
This love isn’t just spoken in a word. This love is spoken in the daily minutes and hours of your life.
This love shows up.
This love is willing to sit as long as it takes to make sure you’re okay.
This love will sacrifice time and time again to be what you need.
This love takes a lot of work and a lot of investment.
But that’s why it’s called love.
When you have that kind of foundation, coming to someone with your hurt (or how they’ve sinned you if you really want to get biblical with our verbiage) isn’t hard. It’s actually natural. It would be unnatural to not discuss it. Hiding it would feel like a betrayal, because of how intertwined your hearts are.
You know you’re safe to expose vulnerability, so exposing is easy. You know your heart will be so cared for, that repairing the damage isn’t even a question. You know you are loved. Hurt (or sin) is easily atoned.
And faithfulness goes hand in hand with love.
I don’t think you can have one without the other and I believe that’s why they are coupled inside that passage.
Faithfulness doesn’t just mean you aren’t sleeping around (in the context of a marriage/committed relationship) or that you are simply committed to each other (in the context of a friendship).
Faithfulness (in the Hebrew use of this word in context) actually means: reliability, trustworthiness.
It means, I can rely on you to do what you say you’re going to do. I can depend on you to show up emotionally, physically and spiritually. I can trust that when I expose my heart, my fears, my insecurities and hurt that you aren’t going to shame me or reject me. I trust you fully with my heart, knowing that there is safety here. I trust that when I share my hurt, you will guard it, protect it and work to heal it.
When you love someone (the way I described love), faithfulness will be evident. It won’t feel forced; you won’t have to try to show up for someone, or work hard to be what they need. It will just naturally come out of you.
When love and faithfulness are at the core of a relationship, sin is atoned for. Simply. It isn’t hard. It doesn’t take a ton of effort. Walking through offenses and hurt are something you naturally can navigate together.
But, when they aren’t the core, navigating hurt is agonizing…
There is no foundation of safety in exposing.
There is no ease in vulnerability.
Instead, there is fear, shame, rejection.
You leave with more heartache than you started with.
I love watching relationships who have love and faithfulness at their core.
They are a breath of fresh air and usually the ones that people are envious of. They seem unbreakable – like they could go through hell and back and still be standing side by side.
But, there is nothing harder to watch (or experience) than a relationship that does not have that foundation…
My sweet friends, God is so good!
He wants you to experience a life full of joy and peace. He wants your heart to be loved well. After all, he set the example in how we should love each other and in how we should expect to be loved.
Pain will come. But, take a hint from Proverbs and choose who you will navigate it with wisely. Look for those who love you well. Plant your roots deep there. Go all in. And fight like crazy to continue to feed and develop those relationships.
Love and hugs,