“You don't have to be perfect for me to love you. You are special to me, just the way you are.”
Those are the words we all long to hear from our fathers, and words that reflect what God the Father thinks of His children.
Dads have this magical quality about them. Without even trying, their love and acceptance unlock a whole world for those on the receiving end. Their words and actions shape much of our reality. They seem to be inescapable indicators that we internalize as we determine if we are worthy, accepted and loved.
I’m sure you can think of all the times you did – or didn’t – receive this affirmation. For many, our dads did the best they knew how, but they never learned how to express this kind of acceptance and affirmation because they themselves never received such love. The negative impact they had may have been lasting, but doesn’t have to permanent.
Whether we received this love from our fathers growing up or are still grappling with the wounds of feeling unloved or unwanted, there is another Father for us. There has always been and always will be a Father who loves us without limits. And the best part is, He loves us because He loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us … He loves because He is love (1 John 4:16).
That means it’s never-ending because it’s His DNA – it is His very essence. He is so much better than we think.
It is here that our minds and our hearts can get tripped up. “Better than we think. That’s not my experience.” It’s offensive, if we’re honest, because it often defies our reality. But, what if? What if it were true? Do we dare to believe when it sounds too good to be true? Yet, if it’s not true, then what kind of love, what kind of God are you believing in?
The Apostle Paul prays in Ephesians that we would “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” that we may “know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Paul continues in the very next verse to describe God as being one that “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Paul wasn’t expecting God to hold back His love for you. Paul had every expectation that you would be completely filled with God’s love – His love that goes beyond how wide, long or high we can even imagine.
It takes more than just repeating “Jesus loves me” for our hearts to accept this as truth. Experiencing His love time and time again is crucial. That’s exactly why He died on the cross and tore the veil, so that we can have that day-to-day relationship that allows us to experience Him.
So, here are four tips to help you feel the heavenly Father’s love this Father’s Day and every day:
“Any area that isn’t glistening with hope is tainted with a lie”
Recognize what is stopping you from receiving His love. Steve Backlund is the master and author of this quote. I love it! The enemy can never come as hope – only God can (John 10:10).
If you read verses like Matthew 7:10, “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” and believe that this somehow doesn’t extend to you, you, my friend, need hope in this area. Being able to believe and trust His truth is a powerful way to feel His love.
Do something you enjoy
Proverbs 13:12 says, “A desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” God loves to give you abundant life. He loves to love you! One of the ways He does this is by doing things with you that you naturally enjoy doing. This could be a hobby, getting out in nature, reading a book, writing, art, or something else. The list is endless.
He enjoys seeing how it makes you come alive – He created it that way. Feeling the sense of God smiling over you while you allow yourself to do something fun, guilt-free, is an amazing way to feel His love.
Just straight up ask Him what He loves about you
God tells us we hear His voice (John 10:27). Give yourself permission to trust this (hint: it’s usually the first thing that comes to mind). Ask Him something like, “What are three words you would use to describe me?” or “What is something I did today that made you proud of me?”
You can come up with an open-ended question of your own, of course. To reassure yourself it’s God, simply make sure it’s loving and hopeful. Hold it up to 1 Cor. 13 if you have to. Hearing specific things about yourself that He loves and is proud of is extraordinary and a great practice to allow God to love you like He wants to. We’re dying to hear these things. Take a risk and ask, even if it’s uncomfortable. I promise He has nothing but good things to say about you.
Make Him your friend
Heidi Baker, a missionary in Mozambique, says, “Love looks like something.” She is referring to being the hands and feet of Jesus, but it made me think, if that’s true for us and we are supposed to embody Christ, then that should be true of God as well. His love should look like something to us. After all, our love to our friends looks like something and God now calls us His friends (John 15:15).
We can define love through 1 Corinthians 13, but we also communicate love in our daily lives through the five love languages – words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, quality time and acts of service. If this is how we show love to our friends and we are created in the image of God and God is love, then it would make sense that He communicates this way to His friends as well.
Seeing some of the ways we as humans fundamentally function as originating from God can enlighten us to how close He really is and bring practicality to how we can experience His love for us regularly. Go ahead, ask Him to love you through one of the five love languages and see how He shows up for you.