The Amatorium: Magical Grace Refueling Station

This February, I have been absorbing messages of “law” like there’s no tomorrow. By law, I mean- anything that defines and measures good. 

I am one of those super sensitive persons that finds the law everywhere. The law is my natural habitat. If I was a homing pigeon, I could find my way back to the law with both eyes closed in an Oregon snow storm.

 And let’s be honest- our world is filled with rules to remind each of us personally:  “you’re not doing good enough.”  

Here's a tiny and stupid one: my fitness tracker shows that I have been walking less than 5000 steps per day. According to the laws of good health (aka the internet), I am "sedentary" and therefore more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack. The laws of good tell me I am hurting myself by not doing right- and will someday suffer the consequences. So now, I am trying to move more. One more rule to obey, on top of 3,249 others. Exhausting.

I find I am always breaking some law of good- whether it is biblical or health related or psychology-based. I am acutely aware of falling short of doing the right thing every day.

Needless to say, if there’s not a law written right into it, I’ll simply manufacture one.

That means even going to church or reading/listening to Christian teachings can be a mixed bag. Especially towards the end of winter, when I am low on sunshine and high on female hormones. I have to put on my full armor of grace to weed out the law-based subtleties. Because if there is any message that can be even remotely construed as pushing me to do more, be more, or give more- I’ll zero in on it.  And frankly, self-condemnation and pressure are pretty draining.

I, for one, am needy and desperate for reminders of grace. I need reassurance that I am loved, loved, loved- without a single condition. 

I actually came home from a dinner party last week with really good people, thinking: I hate myself. Compared to other Christians, I don't measure up (note, this social comparison is totally my social anxiety talking- which lives and breathes on the law). And hating myself made me furious. Furious!

I became supremely aware of my desperate need for a recharge of love from God. So I let my imagination run wild. What I need is a perpetual grace-refueling station. Maybe an alternate steampunk universe where I float around in a hot air balloon, absorbing that life-giving substance that says "I am loved."

Welcome to the Amatorium

I'll take some of that...

The word Amatory means “pertaining to love or a lover.” Think industrial, mysterious, fantastical “Love Factory”.  And dry ice. A world where God’s love is a pulsing mechanical heart, right in the middle of everything. That heart is connected to steam pipes, or conduit and circuitry- and pulses of God’s love are continually flowing outwards. Whenever I want, I can easily touch any one of a hundred connections that go straight back to God’s pulsing heart. Agape love. Flowing into me, reassuring me, strengthening me, recharging me.

There are a lot of indirect connections in this maze of steam pipes or circuitry. For instance, one circuit runs from God’s heart to my dog, Jenna- animating her with God-electricity. I reach my hand down to pet her and receive a warm, pleasant charge. Ah… a little shot of unconditional love in that wagging tail and eager face. She may be small, but she reminds me of the BIG- God loves me completely. Jesus.

 There’s a large circuit running from God to my husband. It makes his gears turn and his gauges spike. I touch my husband, and spark! I get a surge of God’s unearned love. There’s probably some smoke involved in this particular circuitry for recharging, because my husband is... well... hot.

 There are smaller circuits running to butterflies, the scent of wildflowers, even a drifting snowflake. A gentle current of love connects these wonders from God's loving and creative hand directly to my senses. Loved.

Sometimes a big charge comes through a beautiful bible verse- one so clear and lovely that I can’t misinterpret it through my natural eyes of law.  Like this electrifying one:

For I am persuaded that ...nothing... shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Interestingly, the law is not even present on the Amatorium's motherboard! It’s not the law that makes me perfectly lovable (righteous) to God- it’s His own loving nature. The law is not the conduit that helps God’s love flow down and out to a fool like me. What great news!

"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…” (Rom. 3:22a, NKJV).

I don't know about you, but I have to fight hard to remember I am loved, in Jesus. If I let my guard down just a little, voila! - the law is back, roaring and threatening me like a lion- ready to eat me up with condemnation, shame, and self-hatred. I must work hard… not at being a good person, but at remembering, simply, that I am loved. That I can rest from my works and just trust in the work of Jesus.

“Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves]…” (Hebrews 4:11a, AMPC). 

Amatorium Technique: I Am Loved

With the Amatorium in mind, I decided to try something new. I began thinking these words whenever going into a stressful situation (usually something social or Christian related)- “I am loved.” Ridiculously, childishly simple. And I wasn’t repeating these words internally as if they were a mantra. I was, and am, actually attempting to proceed through life with the expectation that God loves me and He is eager to express it. Through big circuits and little circuits and smoking gauges and turning gears.

And you know what? It works. Try it. Whatever you are facing- face it knowing you are loved. God is more than willing to give you a recharge- He has promised His love is our very sustenance, our daily food and drink.  I can't go very long without food and drink. God will love you through a friend, a spouse, a coupon, a message of truth in a secular movie, a rap lyric, an email, a doughtnut, a sunny sky, a medication that finally works. Most of all, He will love us always, unconditionally- through the cross. Right now, exactly as we are. No self-improvement needed. 

Not only that, but the Amatorium (and all its lavish love) is there for the people we care about. My February was full of really bad, crappy, unfair news for people I desperately love. The only thing that makes me feel better about that is imagining them in the Amatorium, soaking up God's love in the middle of trials and tribulations. Oh, how stunningly beautiful. 

Do you need to visit a grace refueling station today? I have found that it's impossible to be reminded of God's grace by trying harder or doing more. You get there by resting. Take a break. Be still. Or dance around, I don't care... There are no rules here. Just soak up all that love God has for you/us. It's so narcissistic, but that's exactly how we were created. Narcissistic for our Creator's love. How that pleases Him! 

Feel free to reach out to me for a tiny grace recharge. If I happen to be sufficiently charged myself- I’ll share some of God’s steampunk energy with you. 

The Consummation of Love

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:17-19, NKJV).


Bottom line: God loves us.
That is the source of all things good.

 

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