Healthy Soul/Lessons Learned/My Life A Love That Can’t be Earned by Annie Velasco I thought I was on the highway to heaven throughout high school. I knew God loved me, but I thought I was earning that love by the things I did and the way I lived. I thought I had to be a perfect person all the time, so I tried to be just that. But that all fell apart when I got caught up in a relationship that led me away from God and into sin. I sought acceptance and fulfillment in my relationship and gave of myself because I desired to be loved. I deliberately turned my back from God and His commands. I was like the lost son in Luke’s gospel: I followed the ways of the world with the freedom God gave me. Bound by Brokenness This only left me with a broken heart and deep wounds. I realized that I needed God to fill the emptiness I felt, but I let the guilt and shame from my past sin draw me further and further away from God. I did not feel worthy to be called His daughter. I knew God loved me, but I didn’t feel it after I messed up. The conviction I felt convinced me that God did not love me as much as He did before, and that I could never earn that same love back. I thought He looked at me and saw my sin. God had not decided to love me any less… I just let myself be bound by my brokenness. I closed myself off to receiving His love because I thought I no longer deserved it. The Found Daughter When I found the parable of the lost son in scripture, I knew that was what I needed to do. I just needed to return home to rest in my Father’s love. All I could do was recognize where I fell short of the glory of God and crawl to His feet desiring redemption. I went to Him in confession and He said that I need to know that my sins are already forgiven and forgotten. I prayed to Him in pain and He sent peace to my heart and confidence that He would bring greatness from my sin if I allowed Him to. God simply met me right where I was to reveal His beautiful love to my heart. And He did not even hesitate when I decided to come back. Like the father to the lost son, God not only had his arms open, but ran to me when He saw me coming in all my guilt and brokenness. All I had to do was accept His love and mercy once again. Understanding God’s Love I learned that I cannot do anything to make God want to call me His daughter any less. God did not love me any more when I was running toward Him, and He did not love me any less when I turned away from Him. God does not love us because we are perfect; He loves us because we are His. This realization made me fall in love with God even more because I finally understood how amazing His love is to love me despite my mistakes and imperfection. Living in the Truth Whether you are the dirtiest sinner or the holiest saint, God loves us all equally because none of us deserve the love that God pours over us. If you think you need to earn God’s love: Do an examination of conscience The most important thing is to recognize our sins, and that we are never perfect people. The more we realize we truly do need Jesus and His grace to receive salvation, the more we will understand the love He has for us despite our mistakes. Dive into the Word Pick a book in the Bible, like 1 John, and start reading and reflecting on a few verses a day. Taking the time to study and know the word of God transforms us. The better we know God’s heart and His promises, the better we will know the character of His love. Love the people around you Show appreciation to your parents, care about your siblings, go out of your way to love your friends well, smile at strangers… the more Christ-like love you give to others, the more open your heart will be to receive His love. God, thank you for loving me. And thank you that you don’t expect me to earn it on my own. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:24 If you’re eager to dive deeper into the great mystery of God’s mercy, seek it in the sacrament of Confession. Come Clean is a great little book to help you prepare and understand the sacrament more fully.