Why Is It Hard to Feel God’s Love?

(Atheist readers, before you say, “Because He’s not there,” think of a time when you had trouble accepting that another person loved you, and read on.)

Image is a beautiful journal of literature and art that engages with spiritual themes. In a recent post on the Image blog, Kelly Foster explores why it’s so hard to live with an awareness of God’s love:

I do believe in God.

I don’t believe, with any regularity, that God loves me. Or that, whether or not I believe in God, life will necessarily be anything other than the bleak, terror-blanched affair it sometimes appears at three in the morning.

By saying I don’t believe God loves me, I don’t mean that I consciously choose not to believe this—as in I don’t believe the moon landing was a hoax or I don’t believe that drunk driving is a good idea. I am also not saying that I believe that I am so terribly unlovable, that though God loves everyone else, he has somehow singled me out to be damned to a life bereft of comfort. I mean, I’m insecure enough, I’ll grant you, but I’m not that bad.

Instead, I am saying something that is harder to say—which is that if in my bones, I truly believed in a riskier way that the bedrock of my existence was unconditional love, was in fact Love Loving (a term used by David L. Fleming to describe the Divine Vision of St. Ignatius), then I would be different than I am. I would be more generous, more open, more accepting, more free, more at peace—not only with others, but with myself.

Is it bad theology? Bad parents? A hard life? In rejecting these simplistic solutions, Foster ends up counting her blessings, and concludes that the vulnerability of love is just plain hard to bear. It’s a slow, painstaking process of “trying to learn how to open myself just a fraction to a kind of love—a
love that transcends circumstance or condition—that I know has the power
to demolish me.”

To me, that sounds almost like…death. The kind of death Jesus was talking about when he said that we have to lose our lives in order to find them. Love and death are symbolically linked in so many myths and artistic classics because when we trust love, we’re surrendering the defenses that we thought we needed to keep ourselves alive. It’s like walking on water. I believe in Christ’s resurrection chiefly because I need a guarantee from God that love ultimately wins.

Read the whole thing here.

4 comments on “Why Is It Hard to Feel God’s Love?

  1. irishpoetry says:

    Was browsing the web and stumbled upon your site. This is a great article, well written.

    When I behold the crucified Christ, crowned with thorns, with bleeding hands and bleeding feet and wounded side, tears in his eyes and his face of love – I believe.

    Knowing that he loves me I want to love him too and so I try my best to be true, to this precious gift of faith which He has bestowed upon me.

  2. Jendi Reiter says:

    Thanks for your beautiful words. You make me think I should meditate more on images of Jesus instead of trying to do everything through “thinking” alone! The arts are so essential to faith.

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