This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing items through the affiliate links below will provide MiddayMornings a small commission. Thank you for your support.
My curiosity piqued when I saw the book Let God Love You: Why We Don’t; How We Can by Wendy Ulrich while browsing a Deseret Book flyer in 2016. I put the book on my Amazon Wish List and, honestly, forgot about it.
When I got the book in my Christmas box from my mom, my interest was re-kindled and I was excited to dig in. However, the book sat on my shelf for months before I finally cracked it open. Once I did, I was kicking myself for not having started it sooner.
Letting God Love Me
As part of my goals for 2017, I wanted to deepen my relationship with God. I saw Let God Love You as an opportunity to possibly learn some ways to accomplish that goal. I wasn’t feeling particularly distant from Him, but I didn’t feel like I was growing closer to Him either. I wanted more. And from the scriptures I read, it seemed God was open to – and even desiring – more too.
I don’t know what score I’d give myself on lovableness. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m also not the worst person out there. Even so, it takes a lot of effort to focus on my strengths and not get caught up in my weaknesses. Adam frequently comments on how hard I am on myself. So, it stands to reason that if I sometimes have a hard time loving myself, I sometimes wonder if God has a hard time loving me too.
Past Relationships Inform Our Relationship With God
Dr. Wendy Ulrich starts at the beginning: our childhood. This may seem cliché, but it’s a smart place to start considering our parent-child paradigms carry into our Parent-child paradigm.
Reframing Our Childhood Experiences
Dr. Ulrich spends several chapters discussing relationship paradigms as well as the various stages most close relationships go through. She offers many helpful suggestions to cope with, reframe, and move past any unhealthy associations and paradigms you experienced in youth.
Learning to re-tell our childhood experiences as narratives rather than memories was a powerful suggestion for me. Explaining an experience as a narrative is like re-telling a storybook story: even though you can talk about emotions, the narrative doesn’t have to elicit emotions. If your childhood was rough and left you scarred, learning how to think and talk about those experiences without flashbacking to it is a great tool to move forward in your future relationships.
Moving from our parent-child relationships, Dr. Ulrich moves to discussing another long-term relationship most of us experience: marriage.
God As Our Bridegroom
This was the first doctrinal commentary I’ve read that points out the mental gymnastics women usually have to perform to apply male-centric scripture stories, parables, and applications to themselves. Capitalizing on Christ’s references to himself as a bridegroom – our bridegroom – Dr. Ulrich asks readers to consider the close intimacy of marriage and apply that to our relationship with God.
My husband knows my deepest fears. He knows my pet peeves and my favorite pick-me-up treat. He has seen me (and loved me) during weight and hormonal fluctuations, while I’ve puked through the night from food poisoning, and after an emotionally exhausting day of mothering. He doesn’t judge me when he finds me eating straight from a pint of Ben and Jerry’s just before bedtime.
My husband is my rock. He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. Now, if a mortal man can love and cherish me so much through the good and the bad, what kind of relationship could be possible with Someone who is perfect? And that’s the conclusion Dr. Ulrich draws: God wants to be to us everything we wish for in an eternal companion. He already knows us perfectly and He wants us to get to know Him. He wants to be invited to every birthday, anniversary, and special occasion. He also wants to be contacted as often as we text our spouse (if not more often) to just chat about how the day is going.
Before reading this book I had glossed over Christ’s title as Bridegroom and focused more on his more complex, awe-inspiring titles (Redeemer, King of kings, Prince of Peace, etc…). But if Jesus just wants to walk with me every day to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, forever and ever, what more could anyone ask for?
Fear of Being Too Close
But what if having God be that close to you is scary?
Dr. Ulrich brings up two fears about relationship intimacy that resonated with me. They both involve a lot of vulnerability and both require action.
Picture this, you and God are quite chummy. You’ve shared a lot together and are in a good place. Then, all of a sudden, God turns to you and says, “I need you to [insert whatever makes you uncomfortable here].”
- Be the Relief Society president
- Serve in the Nursery
- Be an Elder’s Quorum teacher
- Serve as the bishop
- Go on a mission
- Forgive someone who has wronged you
- Get married
- Have another child
- Move to another state
Good feelings gone, right?
Dr. Ulrich points out that God doesn’t ask or require hard things of us just because we’re close to Him. He doesn’t say to Himself, “Hmm, I see Jen is having a great day. Time for some refining fire.” It can feel like that sometimes, but as I’ve reflected on my life and my closeness to God, there has been no correlation between joy and trials and what challenges I experience.
In other words, you don’t have to fear praying for patience because you expect massive trials will be sent to you. You don’t have to fear feeling true joy expecting it’ll all go away in the blink of an eye. God wants you to have joy and He will carefully guide you through your sorrows.
Don’t fear being close to God.
- Don’t worry God is too busy to be close to you
- He is very much interested in your life
- He’s there for the good times too
- Be still and invite Him to join you wherever you are
This book has changed my life because it’s helped me to recognize and start tearing down the barriers I’ve created in my relationship with God. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Let God love you.