Have you ever believed in something for years and years, only to realize that you don’t fully understand it? For many years, I believed in a God who was perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful, and I thought I believed He loved me completely. I absolutely believed that He wants me to be the best I can be. I have striven to do earn His approval my entire life. I have had anxiety about “making it back” to him for as long as I can remember. Somewhere along the way I came to believe that God “makes up the difference” but that I better earn my way and do as much as I possibly can to get myself back. I have been told and I have believed that God loves me, but the love itself felt conditional. I struggled to believe He loved and accepted me in my current state.
Consequently, this outlook on life has led to very black-and-white, occasionally judgmental, and closed-minded conclusions in my mind and heart. I believed, without realizing, that love was earned. The result is a mindset of guilt and overall issue with my perceived worthiness. When you don’t know who God is, it affects the way you see yourself and the way you see the world. It becomes very difficult to trust in joy. It all becomes a house of mirrors flooded with distorted images.
My 20s decade has pretty much been a journey of refining and distilling my beliefs into a truer, purer form. I have waded through miracles, disappointments, detours, heartache, endurance, revelation, and hope. I slowly grew into a more sophisticated paradigm as God continued to teach me.
Then in the summer of 2018, I met Sawyer. After years of awkward dating and trying to fit things that wouldn’t fit, I found the guy who was checking so many boxes it was hard to ignore even though it was actually terrifying to take the plunge into a committed relationship. Early on, I could sense there was something in him that I realized I was missing.
I remember one night early on when we were dating when I felt that missing piece.
It was a soft, warm night in September. We were out walking and he could tell I was troubled. My head was swimming with concerns, doubts, and I badly needed to discuss them but was terrified at what would happen. I finally broke and opened up. (I really struggle to articulate my feelings). After I finished there was a long pause. I was terrified. I couldn’t stomach the idea of introducing a conflict. My mind raced. Then suddenly he leaned over and gently, tenderly kissed my forehead and said, “Thank you for telling me Micah”. He then proceeded to match my vulnerability with his own and calmly address each concern.
I was stunned. I wasn’t in trouble. I was safe with him. It was okay. Is this love?
Over and over he’s done this. He has cared about my emotional equilibrium and treated it so lovingly and rationally it was incomprehensible to me. It felt so tender that it hurt—because it can’t possibly be real or deserved. My waters have always been heavy and deep, but he comprehended the depth well. My humanity was acceptable to him, and I could let my guard down, little by little.
Slowly as we dated I felt my eyes open with love, mercy, forgiveness, humanity, and I started to thaw. Throughout this enlightenment I felt God telling me “NOW you’re beginning to understand”. I felt His pleasure as if He had patiently waited for me to discover this. It seemed unthinkable that I was as loveable as I was to this new man in my life, and that my preferences, hopes, and feelings mattered so much to him. And yet it was true. Dating Sawyer became an earthly tutorial on God’s love for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been loved and respected by Sawyer and had it suddenly click “this is how God loves His Children”. The greatest compliment I can give to Sawyer is that I can look to His heart and the way he loves as a model for how God loves me. You can imagine what a privilege it is to be daily loved by a person like that.
Since we’ve been married, my journey of discovering God’s true self has continued to evolve. Marrying Sawyer didn’t mean that I was suddenly healed of my worthiness/happiness issues. But it did mean he could be my best friend and confidante as I process all this. And he still is.
I’ve spent time adjusting the way I pray, questioning my own assumptions, doing things that give me joy, and researching God’s identity and love.
I’ve since had experiences with God in prayer where He showed me how He feels about me. I now understand that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother love me the same way a young couple loves their newborn baby—the doting excitement, the tenderness, the night-and-day relentless nurturing. In one particular prayer, this realization felt uncomfortably tender—to be singled out and loved so individually. How can I be loved like that when they have trillions of children? And yet it is true. I am THEIRS. They want me to come home so badly. I don’t pretend to know the details of how God spiritually creates His children, but the love IS genuine, it’s always been there, and God has shared it with me in terms and with imagery I could understand.
Over the past 2 years, this is what I’ve learned about God, and I testify they are TRUE:
- He’s a perfect parent. He is the enthusiastic, loving, tender, affectionate, friendly, and wise parent everyone needs.
- He likes me.
- He wants me around. He really wants to spend time with me.
- He’s excited when I come home.
- He wants to hear about my day and everything going on with me.
- He wants me to be vulnerable with him.
- He’ll coach me lovingly but not belittle or demean me.
- He wants to hear what I’m worried about.
- He doesn’t just want to talk about improvements to be made, but the fun things too.
- He has all the time in the world for me; I’m not pulling him away from anything. (He can help more urgent needs of others simultaneously).
- He wants me to believe what He says—I can trust him.
- He wants me to remember all the good.
- He wants me to revel in happy moments and experience peace.
- He wants me to experience only the godly sorrow needed to understand that when I’ve done wrong, that a change is needed and that I commit to it.
- He understands my perspective minutely and completely.
- He’s not shaming me for telling him what I’m thinking, He just shares His light with me if I’ll have it.
- He never wants to make me feel small.
- He’s my best friend.
- He loves me—-the real me.
- He wants to be physically near me.
- He knows who I really am and what I can do.
- He wants to see me blossom and cheer me on every hour of the day.
- He knows my potential so He’s going to speak to me in a way that encourages the best “Micah” to step forward.
- He can heal me. Really, He can. I can feel better and I don’t have to swim so deeply or take on life by myself.
This changes everything. I can approach my relationship with God with much more love and collaboration than fear. Now when I’m facing a difficult day ahead, I pray that God will be near me and hold my hand. I’ve felt Him help me.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done is believe in God’s love for me. It is still scary. I’m not good at this. But I’m learning. I’m learning how to say what I feel. I’m learning to believe in my power and in my link to Divine Parents. I’m learning to understand and believe in love. I’m learning to revel, not just grind.
I wish I could say I always remember this new knowledge, but sometimes forget. I still get into ruts where I feel “stuck” and like nothing will ever change for the better. I’ll feel happy and then undeserving of that happiness. I’ll feel reluctant to pray because I’m afraid I won’t hear Him and I’ll feel abandoned. But the truth is that He’s never as far as I may think. If He feels far it’s because I have an assumption, belief, bad habit, or attitude that has disoriented me from seeing Him. But when you can see Him—that’s when all the good in life comes rushing in.
The Son of God said it best: John 17:3:
Maybe Christ was so successful in his mission because He knew God’s true nature better than anyone else on the earth. I believe that God’s nature and His love are what the world needs most. Every problem on earth would dissipate if we were all filled with it.
I’d like to think that when I do see Him again, face to face, it will be a life review with a God who loves and knows me best rather than a performance evaluation with a boss. I believe it will be a homecoming—a reunion with love, familiarity, and discussion about who I’ve become.
President Ezra Taft Benson has one of the best descriptions of this reunion that I know of: